Sunday, 28 July 2013

Book of the Week: Game of Thrones

"Winter is coming."

Firstly, I would like to apologise for my absence last week. I've had a very poorly pooch, so I've been spending every spare minute fretting and fussing over him! My poor baby! He's feeling much better now though, so on with the show!

The book I have chosen to review this week is the first in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. My new obsession, it tells a story of deceit and treachery, of kings and commoners, and of all those forced to partake in a deadly dance for power. I'm aware that I'm rather late to the party here, I wasn't sure it was going to be my kind of book to begin with, but boy how wrong I was! I'm flying through the third book as we speak (so no spoilers please), and I just can't stop! Here are a few of the many reasons I find myself unable to put it down.

Apart from the author's middle initials, I can't really see a massive similarity between these books and the work of Tolkien, although many people have made the comparison. I think it is more of an homage to the ruthless and bloody times of Imperial Rome myself, which it does actually say in a quote on the back cover - spot on SFX! Being an Ancient History graduate, I find this quality hugely appealing. Lots of bloody battles, murder plots and incest. Right up my street. If you're not into that, however, there's also a fair bit of magic, which I'm also very keen on. I don't know about you, but I really want a direwolf now! It would be black, and I'd call it Nox. Just a little side note for you.

As for the storyline, I love the unpredictability of it all. I won't give anything away, but he's not afraid to do a little killing is he?! I actually found myself shouting at the pages in disbelief at one point - if you've read it, you'll know exactly what I mean, and if you haven't, hurry up so you can join me with my shot nerves and frazzled emotions! I adore an author who's not afraid to keep you on your toes though. A book where absolutely no one is safe is a book that keeps me guessing until the very end, and in my eyes, there is nothing better.

I also love that the good and the bad aren't clear cut. It is not told in numerical chapters, but each section is written from the point of view of one of the many (and I mean many) central characters. I like that, due to this, I actually find myself sympathising with the most unlikely of characters, Tyrion Lannister being a particular favourite of mine. In the real world, no one is inherently good, or completely rotten to the core. We all contain a bit of both (although hopefully a lot less of the nasty stuff), and so do the characters between these pages. The protagonists make mistakes, and are often ruled by their hearts, not their heads, whilst their enemies do have at least a few redeeming qualities. The family loyalties and the political affiliations mean that you can see the reasoning behind every decision, even if you know it's the wrong one, and the fact there are two sides to every story, and you are able to read both, leaves you more informed but every bit as suspicious as the characters themselves. I find that this makes for a distinctly more interesting read than those that are very black and white, thus adding to growing the list of things I love about this series.

Finally, the detail with which Martin has created this fantasy world is astounding, and one of the many brilliant aspects of the book that kept me enthralled. I think it is here that people draw the Tolkien comparison, as the rich scenery and the detailed history of Westeros is rather similar in the care and attention it has quite obviously received, to Middle Earth. Sometimes it's even a little too elaborate. It's taken me until now to wrap my head around the who's who of it all, and as soon as I get to grips with it, he goes and chucks in a new family of Tyrells or Tywins or something or other. The confusion is only minor though, and as long as you understand who the key characters are, the fact that about 6 Brandons are mentioned in as many pages doesn't make the story any less amazing.

So there you have it, the fantastic fantasy fiction that is Game of Thrones! Have you read any of this series? Are you as unhealthily obsessed as I am? Let me know. Although please bear in mind that the part I have gotten to is still a bit behind the TV series, so please try not to mention anything that might ruin it for me. It's a miracle that I've managed to avoid spoilers up until now!


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Saving Face: My Pick of Facial Sunscreens

Wearing a good SPF is such an important part of caring for your skin, and one that I never leave out of my daily regime. As well as providing protection from harmful rays, it combats ageing, prevents skin discolouration, and over time, helps to reduce redness and blotchiness. When you consider all of that, it amazes me that some people would rather brave the damaging UV rays through want of a tan, or just outright laziness, especially considering the huge range of products available which cater for sun care. A stickler for sun protection, Ruth over at amodelrecommends.com stresses it's importance better than I ever could, so go and have a little peek at her video if you're interested. Now, with that mini rant out of the way, on with the post.
The sunny season has finally arrived here in the UK, meaning I've been giving my sun care routine some extra special attention. Now that the weather has mellowed out somewhat, I wanted to share with you the sun protection that has gotten me through the last few weeks unburned (NOT sunburned, naughty spell checker).
I always lean towards the higher factors, as I have an English Rose complexion (that's pasty with a positive spin), but it is always recommended that you use at least a factor 30 if you're going to be in the sun all day. With that in mind, my first pick is Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream Sun Defence for Face SPF 50. This has been slipped into my suitcase for a couple of years now, and I can't really fault it. It's quite a thick cream, and it's slightly greasy, but it suits my personal taste as I have dry skin that tends to get a lot dryer in the hot weather, so I find the moisture boost of the cream incredibly nourishing. It has that distinct Elizabeth Arden smell, despite claiming to be unscented, so if you're not a fan, maybe steer clear of this one. You can get it on feelunique.com for £21.25. I got it on offer this year, with a free Targeted Sun Defence Stick, usually £12.75, which I'm loving. Such a bargain! I like to use it on my lips, as it's a lot nicer than just slathering on the cream, something I have been known to do in the past.
Next is a new purchase this year, on the recommendation of Ruth from amodelrecommends.com (I consider her a bit of a sun care guru if I'm honest), and it is the Alpha H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+. I wanted to give this a try, as I have been on the hunt for a good moisturiser with a higher SPF in it, and I've heard great things about Alpha H. It's a lot lighter than the Elizabeth Arden one, sinking into the skin instantly, leaving you with a soft, smooth visage, so I feel this would be perfect for the more oily among us. Packed with Vitamin E and Aloe Vera to combat premature ageing and save collagen, it has a lot more benefits than just sun protection. Brilliant. As for the scent, it isn't particularly strong, but it reminds me of holidays in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. I've only been using this for a couple of days, but so far, I'm really enjoying it, and I have a feeling that it's going to become my go to moisturiser. It retails for £27, and you can get it at cultbeauty.co.uk. A bit pricey, I know, but you only get one face, better not to skimp!
Now for lips. My weapon of choice is the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. I got these as a gift from Sephora last year, and have since used the entire clear one, and have now almost gotten through the tinted version, so it looks like a repurchase is on the cards. They're only SPF 15, so I tend to use them on milder days, and now, having run out of the uncoloured one, only on days where I want a rosy pink sheen to my lips. Beautiful on occasion, but I'm a peachy girl myself. They also have a delicious lemon scent and taste to them, not dissimilar to the Lanolips Lemonaid, although not as strong. I don't think they're that easy to come by in the UK, unfortunately. The only place I could easily find them online was Amazon, at £12.87, plus a ridiculous amount for post and packaging, so if you know of anywhere slightly more local, please do let me know.
Another great way of fighting the rays is through your foundation. Although not really enough to be hugely helpful, so many foundations have SPF in nowadays, that there's really no excuse not to have some kind of protection on your face, however little. And none of that flashback malarky please, if you're using flash photography in the sun, you're doing it wrong. My all time favourite is the bareMinerals Original foundation, which I use on a daily basis. Containing SPF 15, it's perfect for summer as it's so light, it feels like you don't have anything on, but it gives a decent amount of coverage the same time. I always go for the original edition as it gives the dewy finish that I'm quite partial to, but they also make a matte version if that's more to your taste. Readily available at larger Boots stores and places like Debenhams in the UK, you can also get it at feelunique.com for £19.95.

So there you go, my fave face products for the sunny season. I hope you've all been keeping protected this summer. What is your favourite SPF product for protecting your wonderful faces? Let me know!


Friday, 19 July 2013

Simple Summer Lips: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense

I had no intention of buying yet another lip product so soon, but I was in Boots last week, stocking up on holiday essentials, and my friend left me unattended for a mere moment. That's when the sales assistant must have sneaked up and slipped this little beauty into my basket without my knowledge. Honestly, you just can't get the staff these days.

It is Clinique's Chubby Stick Intense in Heftiest Hibiscus, and I've been loving it so much that I thought it warranted a blog post of it's own. I had seen it knocking around on a few blogs, most notably Late Night Nonsense, and after seeing the infamous Lisa Eldridge sporting it in a recent video, I'll be honest, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed and bought the damn thing.

I have a couple of the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stains, which I love, and I've always wanted a Chubby Stick, but all of the ones I tested were way too sheer for my liking. Enter the Chubby Stick Intense range. They are described as a moisturising lip balm, halfway between sheer and opaque, but, for a lip balm, they are definitely at the more opaque end of the spectrum. The shade I went for, Heftiest Hibiscus is a beautifully glossy coral red colour, and the perfect red for daytime wear. Containing shea butter and mango, I also find this to be lovely and moisturising on my parched smackers, a quality I crave in lip products. They do have a bit of a crayon like smell to them, which I'm not too keen on. Not really a deal breaker, but worth a mention, and the only issue I have with the product.
A wonderfully easy product to apply, I find that it lasts about 3 hours on my lips before it needs a top up, granted that I literally draw it on and go, and the weather has been make up melting as of late. I'm sure it would have better staying power if I put in a little more effort, or if the weather wasn't as intense as the Chubby Stick, but to be honest, I think 3 hours is more than reasonable for something marketed as a lip balm. 

This is my first venture into Clinique make up, as I more readily associate the brand with skincare, but with this beautiful addition to my collection quickly creeping into my favourites, I'm sure it won't be my last.

Do you own any of the Chubby Stick Intense range? What is your favourite lip crayon? Let me know!


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

July Glossybox

My second instalment of Glossybox goodness came this weekend, sporting a Seaside Splash theme, perfect for this magnificent heat wave. Designed for effortless yet glamorous beach days, it has an array of products perfectly suited for the occasion. And the box, oh the box. I will pretty much buy anything if you pop it in pretty packaging, so when this nautical beauty arrived, I loved it before I'd even seen it's contents. But let's take a look at them anyway, shall we. 
My favourite from this months offerings is the Alterna Haircare - Bamboo Style Boho Waves Tousle Texture Mist (and... breathe). A dedicated fan of the Toni & Guy Sea Salt Texturising Spray, I love that tousled beach look. I think it's just so effortlessly beautiful, and so easy to maintain. I know a couple of people who don't like the drying effect that these kind of products have on your hair, but mine has been a vibrant red for the last four years, so I'm not exactly a poster child for luscious, healthy locks. And I feel like this product does the same thing as a sea salt spray, but with none of the draw backs. For starters, it doesn't  actually contain sea salt, but it does have bamboo and blue yucca root, both of which are supposed to have a healthy effect on your hair (both used to prevent hair loss actually), so Alterna are already winning there. I also find that sea salt sprays feel a bit sticky on my hands after I've styled my hair, and without careful distribution, they leave my hair feeling ever so slightly crispy. But there's none of that with this spray. It leaves my hair feeling soft and beautifully styled, and it is a fine enough mist that it doesn't leave my hair damp after application. I love it, and I'll almost certainly be repurchasing when this diddy 25ml sample runs out. 
I'm also a fan of the next item, the Coola Mineral Face SPF 20 - Unscented. I believe that this month's Birchbox also had a cucumber scented sample, although I might be wrong there. I haven't tried that one, but I'm really glad that I got an unscented version. I find that a lot of sun care products have a scent to them, and wearing them alongside other scented products can become a bit overpowering. I'm also a huge fan of the formula. Upon applying, it instantly melts into the skin, leaving no trace and allowing me to apply other products immediately. It's also an organic product, which claims to have the anti-ageing benefits of Acai Oil, as well as being packed with anti-oxidants and having the beauty benefits of soothing, toning and minimising pores. Lovely. Sadly, the factor isn't high enough for my milky complexion. I don't particularly like to wear anything lower than SPF 50 on my face when the temperature rises, 40 at a push, and as far as I can see, the Coola Mineral Face range only go as high as SPF 30. So even though I love all of it's wonderful qualities, I don't think I'll be purchasing this. Such a shame. Sort it out Coola
Thirdly, I received the Anatomicals - Spray Misty For Me Facial Spritz. I was about to go out and buy Soap and Glory - Girligo (not technically for your face, I know) for use on the 13 hour flight (wahh!) that I will be on in less than a month, but the kind people at Glossybox are one step ahead, because this suits me perfectly. It claims to be both a refreshing mist, and a setting spray, something I'm rather sceptical about. The mist isn't really fine enough that I'd feel comfortable spraying it over a full face of make up. As for it's refreshing qualities, I don't find it to be particularly hydrating, but it is a sigh of refreshing relief in a bottle, and, containing peppermint and lavender, it smells divine! It has some quippy, Soap and Glory-esque description on the packaging too, and who doesn't love some quirky reading material whilst spritzing. It only retails for £6, and so far, I'm loving it, so I'd absolutely repurchase in the future.
Next, I received not one, but two Sleek Pout Paints, one in Rosetta, a dark pink colour, the other in Cloud 9, which is white. Upon opening it, my initial thought was, 'who the hell would want a white lip gloss?!', but on further inspection, I learned that they are supposed to be mixed with other products to alter the colour, although a minimal amount can be applied on it's own for a shot of vibrancy. Surprisingly, these are the first Sleek products I have ever owned, and I'm pleased as punch to finally be acquainted with the brand. My first, and favourite thing about the products is their smell. They have the most delicious tangerine scent and I can't stop sniffing them! Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the consistency. I was expecting quite a drying product, reminiscent of Rimmel Apocalips lip lacquers, however, they are very silky smooth to apply, and not at all dehydrating. I have only applied Rosetta on its own so far, and have yet to mix them with other products, but I'm not sure I will, as I'm not too keen on the colours I received. Rosetta is very blue toned, which isn't flattering on my skin tone, although I may find use for Cloud 9 on some occasion. I'm also not entirely convinced that they fit with the beach theme, as they aren't particularly effortless, and they are a bit too pigmented for casual day wear in my opinion, but, for a product that I wasn't really expecting to get on with, I'm really pleasantly surprised. I'm sure they will get used at some point, but I don't think summer will be their season. 
Last, and unfortunately least, I received the Essie Sleek Sticks - a new long wearing nail sticker from one of my favourite nail brands. Now, these stick on manicures have never really been to my taste. I always find that there are never enough that are close to the right size for each nail (seriously, who has fingernails that size?!), and with all the effort of cutting, filing and shaping, it would be less of a chore to just paint your nails and have done with it. However, I did find myself eyeing up some of these in Boots last week (a black and white set with writing on them, which, after a quick Google, I have discovered are called Love To Love You), and I'm a big fan of Essie nail varnishes. I don't think I'll be trying these for a while, as the set that I received, a dark zebra print aptly named A To Zebra, doesn't really float my boat, and is definitely not summer appropriate, but who knows, I'll give them a whirl in the winter months and they might make a nail sticker lover out of me!
So there you go. My views on this month's Glossy goodies. Some products a little more impressive than others, but overall, I'm chuffed with my July treats. I'm sure the majority will get a lot of use in this sweltering heat.

Did you receive any of the same products? What do you think of Glossybox's July offerings? Let me know! 


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Book of the Week: The Psychopath Test

"At the end of our conversation she (Martha Stout) turned to address you, the reader. She said if you're beginning to feel worried that you may be a psychopath, if you recognise some of those traits in yourself, if you're feeling a creeping anxiety about it, that means you are not one."

Well hello my lovelies,

I've had a rather jam packed week, and have been using any smidgen of spare time to soak up the uncharacteristic rays that have finally decided to bless England with their presence. As a result, I haven't really had the time to put a lot of thought into writing about my book of the week. So I thought, instead of neglecting the post altogether, I'd keep it short and sweet, and a little bit different.

Although I like to think that I'm all worldly and open minded when it comes to literature, my reading patterns are probably more predictable than I'd like to admit. I like what I like, and I don't tend to venture far from it. 9 times out of 10, I'll reach for fiction, but every now and then, I'll surprise myself and something a little more factual will take my fancy, and so, this week, I thought I'd tell you about my favourite non-fiction read. It is The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, and it was recommended to me by my house mate a couple of years ago. She works in PR, so she has an irritating knack of making me think I need everything she ever raves about. In fact, she did such a good job of selling this one, that I accidentally bought two copies in my desperation to read it. But I'm glad I did, because, with this little gem, she hit the nail right on the head.

The Psychopath Test is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. I know it's a bit of a taboo, but I think, just this once, you'd be alright judging a book by it's cover. It poses the question, what if society wasn't fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? It then goes on to reveal the most unlikely psychopaths, as well as explaining the Hare Checklist; the test used to diagnose psychopathy - the higher you score, the more psychopathic you are. There are some scary and fascinating realities explored in the book. For example, due to the characteristics of a psychopath (lack of empathy and guilt, superficial charm, cunning/manupulative), they often excel in powerful positions, so there are psychopaths working on Wall Street, and as CEO's of major companies. Our world is literally run by psychopaths (obviously they aren't all insane, but it's slightly worrying just how many there are in positions of power) It is compelling to ponder what factors have made the difference between these sociopaths, and the ones that winded up in Broadmoor. It's fascinating learning their tells, and how differently their minds operate. If you are at all interested in psychology, then definitely pick this up - it's one of the most interesting books I've ever read.

As well as being engrossed in the scintillating facts of the book, I also love Jon Ronson's writing style. There is a somewhat fictional flare to his writing, meaning it is a lot more entertaining to read than many other factual tomes, and he is laugh out loud funny, which is always a welcome bonus. He asks rather blunt questions, getting to the heart of things quickly, but at the same time, he is sensitive when the occasion calls for it, which makes the book perfectly balanced for one exploring quite a serious subject. I find that he is one of these authors who writes exactly what you're thinking, just as you're thinking it, and I love finding a writer who is so perfectly on my wavelength. It's not something I come across often.

So, if you're in the mood for something a little different this summer, definitely go and check this one out. It's such a fascinating read! Be warned though, once you've had a read of the Hare Checklist, you'll find yourself getting a bit trigger happy with your new-found diagnostic skills. Think, 'that guy didn't hold the door for me - Item 2: Grandiose sense of self-worth - must be a psychopath'. Bit like when you watch Grey's Anatomy and convince yourself that those hiccoughs you had this morning are clearly an early sign of your untimely demise. Still, it's good to be wary. Also, I apologise, this post didn't turn out to be particularly short or sweet, but never mind, eh? Let's not dwell.

Have you read this book? What is your favourite non-fiction read? Let me know!


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Summer Nails: My 5 Faves for the Sunny Season

Now, I'm not great at applying nail varnish. I always smudge or chip them, or suddenly remember the million things I have to do as soon as I'm done painting and just get to it, thinking, 'they're almost dry, it'll be fine!' No they're not, Sarah, and now you've just ruined an hour of good nail painting effort by trying to delicately rifle through your bag (is there such a thing?!), subsequently catching each and every one of your lovingly painted nails on the damn zip. I don't think I will ever learn, but I still love to try. I, like everyone else, have staple colours that change with the seasons, so here are my favourite summer shades. Enjoy!

It's a lot paler in reality. I can't work out the settings on my camera though, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

1. butter London in Fiver. This one is by far my favourite. Described on their website as an 'opaque mint-green creme,' I feel like it almost looks like a duck egg blue in some lights. Green being my favourite colour, I think this subtle mint shade is perfect for paler skins like my own, and it is one that I will be wearing an awful lot this summer. And next summer. And the summer after that. You catch my drift. butter LONDON are my favourite nail varnish brand. I love all the names, the bottles look so sophisticated, and the formulas are 3 free! In all honesty, I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds great, so I'm sold. The only thing that irks me somewhat is that some of the shades are not available in England, but the website doesn't tell you that until you've fallen in love with some gorgeous polish and gotten your hopes up by going to click on it. They are sold in larger Boots stores in the UK, and on lookfantastic.com, so it's probably best to go there and avoid having your nail art dreams shattered. Cheaper too.

 2. Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Greenberry. I love love LOVE this colour. It's quite bright, but still kind of pastelly at the same time, and this shade screams summer to me. This is the polish I'll wear if I'm feeling a bit bolder than on my Fiver days, and is a very close runner up for favourite. Just like it says on the bottle, it has a rather more glossy finish than the regular Barry M nail paints, and I definitely prefer that. I've always loved Barry M for their value and quality, and they haven't disappointed with their latest offerings.  

Again, paler in reality. Damn camera.

 3. Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Prickly Pear. Now this needs about 3 coats before it looks amazing, so I only really wear it when I have time to do my nails properly, but I think it's such a pretty, feminine, almost understated colour. The only way I can think to describe it is as 'dainty' - the colour one might wear to some kind of Secret Garden tea party. I don't know how else to word it to be honest, so sorry about that odd description. Moving on. It's kind of a muted, pastel lilac, and it's just beautiful.

4. butter LONDON in Lillibet's Jubilee. This little commemorative beauty was designed in honour of the Diamond Jubilee, and is most definitely 'fit for a queen', as they so boldly suggest. Probably the least summery of my top 5 picks, this metallic polish has quite a futuristic feel to it. It has quite a rough texture and looks a little like brushed steel on the nail, which is nice because, if you make a bit of a pig's ear of things, it looks like you meant to do it. A godsend for nail novices like myself. My absolute favourite thing about it, though, is the beautiful lilac hue it emits in sunlight. The pictures don't do it justice. Admittedly not the most wearable shade in my collection, I feel like it's quite a statement colour, especially on my pale mitts. Unfortunately, I can't find it online, so it might have been limited edition. Keep your eyes peeled though, it's a gem. A crown jewel, some might say.

 5. & Other Stories in Figury Blush. It's a peachy coral which is almost slightly neon, a lovely summery alternative to the classic, richer red nail that we all sport during the winter months. It just ticks all the boxes, really! It's a shade that exudes effortless glamour, and I have recently been wearing it with my new love, the Lady Danger lippy. Another thing that I love about all of the & Other Stories nail varnishes is the brush. Wide, like the new generation Essie polishes, it makes painting your nails an awful lot easier, in my humble opinion. Sadly, the only British store is on Regent Street, but if you aren't in the area, you can buy this little bad boy, along with an array of other beautiful colours (I've got my eye on Broadcloth Petrolhere

And that's that. My favourite nail varnishes for sunny weather. Do you have any of these nail varnishes? Do you love them as much as I do? What are your favourite summer shades? Let me know.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Book of the Week: Rivers of London

"Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the "London once-over" - a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport - like base-jumping or crocodile wrestling."

I apologise for neglecting my blog a little this week, but it isn't without valid reason, I assure you! I'm a huge tennis nut, so Wimbledon has taken over my life a little bit this past week or so. And for the first time in 77 years, a Brit has won!! Yay for Andy!! I'm looking rather like the Cheshire Cat at the moment, but now it's high time that I get back down to business! So, without further ado...

Not really an all time favourite (yet), and more a favourite of the moment, the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch was one that I hadn't encountered before last year, when I received the first book, Rivers of London, as a birthday present. Having never heard of it before, I must admit that I wasn't all that excited to read it, although the premise of the story sounded an intriguing one. However, I hate to leave a book unread, so I settled down to read a couple of pages and before I knew it, I was on Amazon ordering the rest of the series for next day delivery. Clearly the friend that bought it for me knows me oh so well. 

Described as "what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz", Rivers of London tells the story of Peter Grant, a young police officer who gets the shock of his life when the only witness to a grisly London murder approaches him at the scene... and leaves through a wall. He is, of course, a ghost and is the first of many encounters that Peter will have with the supernatural. Beginning his new life as a member of the Folly, a top secret branch of the Metropolitan Police Service, he attempts to solve the mystery of the malicious unknown that is disfiguring and killing his fellow Londoners, as well as settling territory issues with the major London rivers (yep, rivers are people too, you know), and trying to get a handle on his newly discovered magical powers (think, "yer a wizard, 'Arry").

Admittedly, the concept of the book has been explored many a time before now. There are plenty of instances where some ordinary folk are subject to extraordinary happenings, forcing them to discover their destiny as a part of the previously invisible supernatural world. But there's something about this one that sets it apart. Maybe it's the immense detail and the effort clearly visible behind every aspect of the book, the originality of the story itself, or the dry, somewhat ironic sense of humour that is prominent throughout, I don't know. One thing's for sure, I could not put this book down.

Firstly, I'm a huge fan of Aaronovitch's dry, pithy humour. Read it for that alone. Peter Grant is quick to question everything about his new life as the apprentice to the last wizard in England, and as a result, there are rather more than a few fantastic one liners and quippy anecdotes. As well as this, Peter and Inspector Nightingale's detective/sidekick combo makes the perfect recipe for some hearty laughs. 

As well as this, I love how passionate the author is about the landscape in which he sets his tale: London. I find myself in London a lot of the time, and to see the city so vividly captured on the page as detailed as it is in reality is a wonderful thing. The picture he paints is so accurate and well researched, it is clear to anyone who reads it how much Aaronovitch loves the city, and that he has most likely spent a lot of time in all of the places he writes about. It's rare that I find a book where you can really feel the care and tenderness with which it's subjects and settings are treated, and this really is one of the strengths of the Peter Grant series.  Even the cover is adorned with a beautifully detailed and thoughtfully illustrated map of the West End (my favourite part of London). I think there might even be a London Edition of the book for capital city dwellers, but don't quote me on that. In this, and in the entire series, there is a rich factual history which underlies the fiction, not only in location but in character and storyline, entwining reality with fairytale. And it might be my inner history geek talking, but I think any book containing some element of history is all the better for it. 

Finally, and most importantly, it's got wizards! What's not to love about that! In fact, give me anything with an element of fairytale or sorcery, and I'm on board. It has that same Harry Potter quality in the way that it combines the real world with the magical. In this tale, it is explained that magic and science are linked (Sir Isaac Newton was a wizard, don't you know), and the magic is so intrinsically tied to the city itself that I found myself at times thinking that this could all actually be happening. It was a bit like the horribly depressing realisation on my 11th birthday that I must be a muggle, because Hogwarts clearly exists and I didn't get accepted. Let's not dwell on that, though. This book gives you the children's tales that you knew and, let's be honest, still love, and gives them a sinister, less than child-friendly make over. I love that there is still an aspect of childhood to the story, but it is still very much an entertaining adult read. And just wait until you get to the big reveal. I've never loved a murder mystery surprise so much. Trust me, it's one that'll make you gasp and need to read on, even if it is 3 in the morning and you have a job interview the next day - hypothetically speaking, of course.

I have now read all three published books, and loved each one of them. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the fourth, which I've actually just realised will be at the end of this month, so yay! I hope it's just as wonderfully written as the first three gems are. Weirdly, it's called Midnight Riot in the US, and the cover isn't half as appealing (Google it - you'll see what I mean), but put that aside and go pick it up. If urban fantasy is your cup of tea, or any fantasy for that matter, then you'll probably love this one.

Have you read the series? What did you think? What is your favourite London based fantasy? Let me know!


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Liebster Blog Award!

Hello my lovelies,

So I woke up this morning thinking it would be just another mundane Tuesday, but found a wonderful surprise waiting for me in my inbox. The beautiful Aman from Coffee Chic has kindly nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award! Hers is one of my favourite blogs so it really warms my heart that she would nominate me, so thank you Aman! Please do go and check her out for some inspiring lifestyle and lovely beauty posts, and what might just be the prettiest blog layout ever.

The rules are as follows:

You must link the person who nominated you.
You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee.
You must pick 10 bloggers with under 200 followers to be nominated for the award. 
You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

So here goes, I hope you enjoy my answers to Aman's questions:

♥ Do you prefer tea or coffee?
Tea. Always tea. I think, in any scenario, given the choice between tea and pretty much anything, tea would come up trumps. I live on the stuff.

♥ What is your favourite part about blogging?
I think my favourite part is the feeling of being really excited about writing something. To the point where you can't type it quickly enough. Other than that, discovering people that have the same interests as you is lovely.

♥ What made you start your blog?
I've always wanted to start one, but this year is the first I've really had the time to sit down and dedicate enough energy to it. I love to write, and scribble random thoughts and notes all over the place, so it just made sense for me really.

♥ Do you collect anything?
Do shoes count? If not, then no. Nothing of interest anyway.

♥ What is something you are willing to splurge on?
The first thing that comes to mind is make up. High end lipsticks are a bit of a weakness of mine. But, honestly, I'll splurge on anything from time to time. I think that with anything where you really get what you pay for, I'm more than willing to splash a little cash on.

♥ Favourite movie?
This is such a tough question! I have too many favourites. It all depends on what mood I'm in, what time of year it is, what genre we're talking, the list goes on. I think I'm going to have to say Singin' in the Rain though. I'm a sucker for a good old school musical. 

♥ Favourite candle scent?
I don't really like candles. I'm a bit paranoid that I'll leave the room for a second, a bird will get in and knock it over, whereupon my bed will catch fire and the house will go up in flames, me perishing along with it. A bit of an overreaction maybe, but one can never be too cautious. A friend of mine has a gorgeous Jo Malone one though, it's English Pear and Freesia, so I'll pick that one.

♥ What is one make up product you couldn't live without?
Mascara. I'm not really a foundation girl and, although I wouldn't be happy about it, I could part with wearing lipstick, but I definitely couldn't live without mascara.

♥ Favourite band/artist?
Oh, this is quite a tricky one, so I'm going to cheat (sorry Aman!) and answer with my favourite band AND artist. That's allowed, right? My favourite band at the moment is, without a doubt, Bastille. Their music puts me in such a good and mellow mood, they're perfect for those summer drives and I like that they're a little bit different. My favourite songs of theirs are Flaws and Laura Palmer, in case you were wondering. My favourite artist is Lana Del Ray. There's something quite amazing about her music in the way that I find it both soothing and powerful at the same time. Also, she has the most wonderful voice.

♥ Heels or wedges?
Heels. No contest. I feel like I could always substitute wedges for cute sandals if I had to, but nothing makes me feel more beautiful and sophisticated than strutting my stuff in a pair of sky high beauties. 

And now for my nominees:

I would like to nominate Rachel from RachelLouise, Adrienne from Late Night Nonsense, Harriet from Make Up Your Mind, Amy from Amy Grace, Lynn from Makeup With Tea, Cate from The Perks of Being a Hipster, Amy from Amy's Annex, Anna from Away With The Fairies, Imogen from A rendezvous with you, and Christina from Christina's Blog. All lovely blogs that I urge you to go and take a look at. You'll love them, I promise.

My questions for you, ladies:

1. What is your all time favourite book?
2. What made you want to start blogging?
3. What is your favourite type of blog post to read or write?
4. Who is your blogging inspiration?
5. If you could only ever wear lip products or eye product for the rest of your life, which would you pick?
6. Which one person would you choose as your make up/style inspiration?
7. Stranded on a desert island, which make up product, man and other item would you choose to have with you?
8. Favourite food?
9. Favourite thing to do on a sunny day?
10. If you were a superhero, what would your power be?

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. It felt so nice to be nominated. Feel free to answer any of the questions yourselves in the comments. I would have nominated you all if I could, so please, have at it. Lots of love.


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