Books, Challenges, Reviews

July Books

Still no better title for these posts. I’ll keep working on it.

I read 4 books in July, bringing me to 22/30, which means I’m way ahead of my reading challenge! It was another complete mix and match of a month when it came to my choice of books. I’m starting to think there is no pattern for me when it comes to the question ‘What’s next?’. I do try to not binge read the same genre or author but to have some variety. So I guess that could be the pattern?

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone that the first book that I read was another one by my current favourite author – The Way of Kings, Part 1 (The Stormlight Archive #1.1) by Brandon Sanderson. I know I’ve been blabbering on about how amazing I think he is, but this book brought it to a whole other level. Another world, another (new) magic, whole new characters, a whole new story. Honestly, if you like fantasy then pick up any of his books and your world will change.

In fact, this brings me to the surprise I mentioned a few weeks back. Drum roll, please. I’ve got a brand new copy of The Way of Kings, Part 1 to give away to someone reading this 🙂 All you need to do is comment here or message/email me and you could be the lucky owner of this book! I’m SOOOOOOOO excited!!! As you can probably tell.

Ok, I’ll try to hold it in until I’ve told you about what else I read. My second book in July was Girl Online Going Solo (Girl Online #3) by Zoe Sugg. I finally gave up waiting for the paperback and bought it on Kindle. Only to have it come out as a paperback a couple of weeks later… Typical. Anyway I found it a good sequel to the other Girl Online books – it was fun and easy read. The main character Penny battled with many of the same issues that she’d been struggling with from book one – anxiety and being way too trusting being the main ones. I do like how Zoe, who has admitted to be suffering with anxiety herself, is writing about what she knows, as it makes it more realistic and will give hope to many who are also struggling with the same issues. So thank you for reminding me I’m not alone with my anxiety.

The third book I finished in July was Moomins: Moomintroll’s Book Of Thoughts by Tove Jansson. I got this book from my mum for my birthday earlier this year (or maybe Xmas last year?) and I’ve been picking it up every now and then. It’s a collection of Moomintroll’s thoughts from different Moomins books. I find them so sweet and heart warming, so I often reach for it when I’m need of something… cosy. ”How exciting it is to be alive,’ thought Moomintroll. ‘Everything could change to the opposite – from nothing.” That’s the kind of life lessons one can learn from this book.

Last but by no means the least – The Way of Kings, Part 2 (The Stormlight Archive #1.2) by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve already been going on about how amazing the first part of this was so I don’t think it’s a surprise the second part is just as good. If not better. Also, as a bit of a spoiler I can let you know that the second book of this series is the highest rated book on Goodreads with over 100k votes. So I can’t waaaaait to start on the next one!

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That’s it from me. Don’t forget to comment or message me if you’d like to be the lucky owner of a brand new copy of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, Part 1! I should probably say that I’m only giving it away to a good home, so please enter responsibly.

Also don’t forget to let me know any good books that you’ve read recently or share your all time favourites! I’m always looking for recommendations for what to read next 🙂

G.

Unboxing, Reviews, Beauty

Fantastic Looking August

Yes, it’s that time again! I almost said that time of the month but… you know. It just sounded wrong somehow. Anyway, I thought it’d be nice to take a little break from all the serious writing I’ve been doing here recently and explore my oh so pretty beauty box. So let’s get to it.

Firstly – I’m starting to believe Lookfantastic can’t do wrong with their monthly box designs. It’s gooooooooorgeous blue with golden writing saying ‘Global Glamour’ in the middle of the lid. I love it a LOT.

Secondly – the products this month… There’s the mandatory Elle to keep up with everything that’s going on in fashion, beauty and the world of empowered women. As for the products, I’m actually actively using nearly everything in it at the moment. So I guess you could say it’s been a roaring success with me.

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Korres, Moisturising Body Milk in Bergamot Pear. I love it. I love it soooooooooo much. It’s quite lightweight so it absorbs well, it smells incredible and leaves my skin so soft. I can’t wait to buy it again and buy it in other scents as well. LOVE IT!

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Gatineau, Gentle Silk Toner. Another product that’s already half gone. I’m not sure if I love it because I didn’t currently have a toner already or because it’s actually that good. Probably the latter. It smells quite strongly of.. something. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it smells clean. Plus it’s a light pink colour. Very pretty.

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Lottie London, Balm Ball Lip Hydrator in Strawberry Shortcake. It does actually smell a bit like strawberry shortcake. I’m quite impressed. I like the shape of it – it’s very cute and quite different from my other lip balms. I have been using it quite a bit since I got it. Maybe that’s more to do with the smell rather than the adorable shape of it though.

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Lord & Berry, Magic Brow Pencil. You know when there’s the word ‘magic’ in a product name you expect it to be beyond this world and make you believe in fairy tales, witches and wizards? Just me? Well, let’s get one thing straight – it’s a brow pencil, not a magic wand. I do like it for what it is however. It suits my eyebrow colour and is very easy to use.

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Mane ‘n Tail, Shampoo & Conditioner. I don’t know if it’s actually horse shampoo or not, but I like the smell of it. I think it reminds me of nettles. Or something else green and fresh smelling like that. It does what shampoo and conditioner are supposed to do – clean my hair and make it all soft and swooshy. As swooshy as my newly shortish hair can be, that is.

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Skin79, Super Beblesh Balm SPF 30 PA++ BB Cream. I don’t have a clue what any of that means. But it comes in a pretty pink tub. It’s quite lightweight, making it perfect for those days when you don’t really need any (or just very light) cover, but want something to brighten your face up a little.

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That’s it! It feels like a LOT. Once again I’m absolutely in love with a few of the products – yay for finding new favourites! And I didn’t dislike any of them. So that’s good.

Keep it up, Lookfantastic!

G.

Stories

Chapter 3 – All That Glitters

Forcing herself to put one foot in front of the other she made her way to the door. It was mind numbingly slow going. It was the only way Alice knew. Being made to leave her sanctuary – the only place where she couldn’t hurt anyone – was not something she was going to speed along. She had all the time in the world. It was her last means of showing any defiance. Her last way of showing the shadows that they hadn’t won the war yet.

Reaching the door, she hesitated. She saw the shadow of her hand grab the handle and knew what she had to do. In slow motion she raised her hand and touched the door handle with the tips of her fingers. It felt cold. Icy. She grabbed it and pushed it down. It wasn’t locked. It never was these days. Oh how she longed for someone to simply break in. To discover her. To punish her. Perhaps to end it, if she was lucky.

Alice stepped out into a well-lit hallway. Directly opposite her was a beautiful door – with its intricate carvings painted white with the rest of it, a golden handle gleaming in the light from the elaborate chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling. It looked exactly like every other door she could see. Exactly like the one she had just opened.

She didn’t bother closing the door behind her – there was always someone who was offended by what was visible through it who would close it -, but dragged her feet on the soft red carpet that ran along the marble floor, towards the golden elevator at the end of the hallway.

Pressing the up button, she waited. She could hear the gentle whirring of the lift and then a soft clang when it came to a stop on her floor. The golden doors parted and Alice was greeted by more marble and large mirrors.

Keeping her head down she pressed the button to the top floor. The lift started to move with an almost unnoticeable lurch. Seconds passed. Another gentle vibration ran through the elevator when it came to a stop. The doors opened and she looked out to a hallway that looked exactly like the one she had just left. Without lifting her eyes off the floor she made her way to the stairs just right of her and started to climb them, one at a time. The elevator didn’t go that high.

When she reached the top, her way was blocked by a heavy door. She pushed it open, knowing that it would not be locked. Her shadow had taken care of that. She had seen it move just a fraction ahead of her own.

She stepped outside and looked up properly for the first time since leaving her apartment. The sky was nearly black with clouds and it was raining. Big heavy drops landing rapidly one after another. She was outside. She had been defeated by the shadows again. They had won this battle.

Quickening her step a little, Alice headed towards the edge of the building. She broke into a run, nearing the edge. Her heart skipped a beat when he reached the end of the roof and pushed off it into nothingness.

In the beginning she had enjoyed this moment the most. Then she had hoped it would be her end. Now she loathed that piece of herself. The part that made everything so real. The part that was solid proof of the shadows who owned her, and their powers.

She closed her eyes as she soared towards the ground, and feeling for the right moment, she stretched out her arms – and the wings followed. They looked like they were made of shadows themselves – their span huge, their colour darker than the most solid black, yet looking like a gust of wind could blow through them. Her certain plummet to death now turned into an elegant arch, avoiding the other buildings around her. Looking for her next victim like a bird of prey or Death herself.

It was time to hunt.


 

Yeaaaaah… I still don’t know where this is going. I’ve got some ideas, some paths that Alice could take, but I’m not quite sure about her final destination yet.

G.

Stories

Chapter 2 – The Deepest Pit

Alice knew she had to get up. Staying behind her shadow wasn’t an option. Inexplicably, as excruciating as it was, she had to keep going. Giving up was physically impossible. She’d tried. Again and again. Impossible.

She had to get on her trembling feet, resting with her hands on her bony knees half way up, and then stretch to her full height. He legs were shaking as she opened her eyes, still puffy and crusted from the tears, looking around in her tiny apartment. She saw the rickety wooden table with its paint peeled off so she could only guess what colour it had once been. The only chair in the place still lay knocked down next to it from last night. The couch she was standing next to – oh, how she longed to throw herself in its waiting embrace and forget about everything that was happening. Forget about the things lurking just behind her vision. Ever present. Whispering. Shouting. Feeding the flames in her.

Suddenly rage burned in her. Rage at how unjust it was. The ‘Why me?!’ was back. If she couldn’t give up, she had to keep fighting. She had to find a way out. She had to! She couldn’t going on hurting everyone around her, hurting herself. Although, after everything she had done she felt that she deserved this and everything else that hell could rain upon her. Such remorse, she felt like it was pulling her apart. She gave in to it, hoping that it would tear her to millions of pieces.

She did her best to keep up her shield of rage. It lit another fire next to the strange one that, once so familiar, now felt alien to her. The desire to be the best no matter the cost was no longer her own. She could not embrace it, she could not give in to it. She had to be strong and fight it. Because ‘no matter the cost’ was a high price to pay indeed.

So she had been the best in class throughout her school years – but what of Penelope Woods? She had been the truly clever one with a brilliantly bright future ahead of her. Until it was taken from her. Alice’s threats had made sure she was too scared to ever speak up. She knew what happened if she defied Alice. She had seen it happening. She had seen it again and again throughout the years. So she stayed silent. She lost any interest in her studies. She lost interest in life. The last news Alice had of her said that Penelope had been caught in a firefight between two drug gangs whilst waitressing at a 24/7 diner. It didn’t say whether she survived.

Marissa Bollard had broken a leg when she was about to beat Alice in an inter school race. She’d been in a wheelchair ever since. Billy Clifford had fallen down the stairs when he applied for the same job as Alice and for which he was better suited. He’d broken his neck and died. The list went on. She remembered them all. She repeated their names in her lowest moments, willing herself to sink even deeper. Punishing herself.

It hadn’t been like this in the beginning. She had been a bright and athletic child, naturally excelling in everything she did. It’s when she started to see that there are others better than her, that it started. Not able to stand the idea of being the first loser – coming second – she’d maliciously wished ill upon her competition. It worked, and the fire – the desperate feverish desire – grew ever stronger. Alice became ruthless. Marissa was tripped. Billy was pushed. Her own sister had been slapped, kicked, beaten and humiliated until she was a shadow of her former bubbly self. Until she took her own life.

The rage was gone. All that was left was remorse. Alice screamed. It sounded inhuman, blood curdling. She lurched forward, throwing herself on the splintered chair leg that was sticking up in the air.

Once again the shadows laughed at her. They were not going to release their hold. Even though she no longer thrived on their power and was growing increasingly cumbersome, they still found her somewhat amusing. Puny human. Pathetic. Worthless. Something to be toyed with.

Wailing, snot and spit dribbling down her hollow face, Alice screamed until she could scream no more. Her voice was reduced to little more than a feeble rasp. Nobody heard. Nobody cared. She was alone. Unable to let go. She had tried. Again and again.

Her shadow was moving once again. More urgently this time. She knew there was no escape. It had allowed her to despair as it found it entertaining every now and again. Now it was time to go.

Not seeing or caring where she was going, she let the fire inside her lead her forward to whatever lay ahead.


 

I guess that’s as good place as any to let you know that this is entirely a work of fiction and the people, places and events aren’t related to me or anyone else. 

G.

Stories

Chapter 1 – The Making of Alice

When Alice was little, she was usually rather on the merry side. She rarely cried, she considered her failures little more than plot twists and she was always looking for ways to prove herself. She needed to be the best at everything. Everything was a competition. She even made family dinners something of a race – always finishing her meal first like it was another victory in her already achievement filled day.

Her parents didn’t discourage her – her father saw this as something that would drive his daughter to do great things one day and her mother simply said ‘She’s so spirited!’.

Even though Alice couldn’t understand it at the time – and what she didn’t understand couldn’t possibly bother her or get her mood down – her drive to be better than everyone else, didn’t really sit with other children and their parents. They saw her as single minded to the point of recklessness and even dangerous. Perhaps they were just envious, or perhaps there was a darker side to Alice – a side that would do anything it takes to achieve her next goal.


 

Swoosh and CRACK. Alice’s sleeve had caught on the handle of her mug and she pulled it off the table when she moved. She jumped, knocking her chair over. More crashes and bangs. She couldn’t deal with all the noise anymore. Looking around her apartment, she saw shadows everywhere. What was hiding in the shadows? Were they back? Was she alone? Was she imagining it all?

Her eyes were red, face blotchy. She’d been crying again. Tired, so tired. All the time. Exhausted. Was today the day she could finally end it? She looked down at the broken pieces of the cup. They looked quite sharp. She tentatively picked one piece up. So many thoughts racing through her head. Memories of other nights like this. Of the shadows. Forever lurking, just beyond the rays of the solitary light blazing above the table.

It was unbearable. She gripped the shard and pulled decisively across her arm. She felt no pain. Nothing happened. Shadows whispered to her louder. They were angry. Alice slashed at her arm again and again, but to no avail. Not even a scratch appeared.

The shard fell from her slack fingers and she dropped to her knees. Tears were running down her face again. ‘Stop it,’ she sobbed. ‘Please, let me go. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,’ she cried feebly. There wasn’t an ounce of strength left in her to go on. She wanted to go to sleep and stay there. Even her usual questions weren’t fighting for a place on her mind. Gone. Even the desperate ‘Why me?’ had left her.

Silent tears kept falling down her face, her breathing shallow. She was letting the fear take over – anything to escape the reality of her life.

After a while, Alice crawled to the dirty couch next to the table. It was one of the very few pieces of furniture in the room. She didn’t feel like she deserved any more. Even this was too much. Nevertheless, there was the tiniest part of her that longed to curl up on this rat eaten piece of junk with springs sticking out in odd angles that prodded her through her clothes whenever she didn’t feel herself enough to resist this luxury.

Not this time though. She just lay next to the couch on the bare floor, hiding in the shadow of it. She’d succumbed. Too weak to resist the whispers, she let the shadows in.

Gleefully they seeped in through her skin, feeding the fire that would refuse to go out. Like the first time all those years ago.

How could she possibly still remember? She’d been so young, so foolish. Just a child. And yet she remembered.


 

She remembered how she had always wanted to be first, be the best. She remembered how hard it had been to achieve. She remembered how one night, on the verge of falling asleep in her bed, she felt the shadows talk to her. They talked to her all night.

When Alice opened her eyes in the morning, she didn’t feel like her usual self. She felt tired and her maple leaf patterned sheets were crumpled like she’d been tossing and turning all night. When she looked around in her small bedroom, nothing was out of the ordinary. Her stuffed toys were still looking up at her from the floor by her night cabinet. Her school things were still on the white wooden desk under the window. Her wardrobe doors were still ajar with jumper sleeves and trouser legs sticking out.

Yet something felt different. It felt like someone had come with a huge brush and painted everything just a slightly different shade. Or moved every piece of furniture just slightly away from where they should have been. And the shadows that every item in her room cast, felt just a bit more menacing than they used to.

It felt strange, but she didn’t have time to pay much attention to it. She got dressed in her usual jeans, t-shirt and jumper and bolted out the door.

Had she paid more attention, would she have noticed how her shadow didn’t move quite with her, but always seeming to stay just a fraction ahead of her movements? Or if he’d delved deeper in her thoughts and feelings, could she have detected a tiny fire that had started in her, telling her that she should spare no means to get to the top and trample down anyone who dared get in her way?


 

It was morning. Alice lifted her head an inch off the floor but fell back down almost immediately. Tired. So tired. Exhausted of being terrified of her own shadow. Drained of constantly being alert to what terrible thing was going to happen next – what terrible thing she was going to do next.

Sleep. She just wanted to sleep.

But already she saw her shadow move.


 

So yeah, I felt like writing a bit. Don’t mind the ‘Chapter 1’, I have no idea where this is going next – if it’s going anywhere at all. But it felt right to start from the beginning. 

G.

Food, Reviews, Unboxing

More Food!

Oooooooh yes. This is actually my July Degustabox, but as I only got it when we got back from our holiday during the last couple of days of July, I decided not to rush it and instead try as many things from it as I can before writing about it.

I have to say I’m very pleased with the contents of this box. There’s a wide range of different food stuffs and there should be something for everyone. Also, I love it that even though the box is great value for money, the items in it are still very much affordable. So it’s not like trying out luxury products that I’m never going to repurchase, but instead it’s finding new items that I could buy again! Love it.

  1. Frylight Cooking Spray With Avocado Oil £2.99. I already use Frylight oils for frying, but hadn’t tried the avocado one yet. They’re a range of 1kcal cooking sprays that make frying quite a bit healthier.
  2. Maille Dijon Original £1.99. They’ve included a recipe (Maille Dijon Original Fillet Steak) that uses this. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks easy to make and yummy.
  3. OLOVES Healthy Olive Snacks 2x £0.99. Loved them. They were seasoned with chilli, garlic and oregano. I wouldn’t have expected them to be quite so nice provided the type of packaging, but they were lovely and would be a great addition to a lunchbox .
  4. Crafted £1.80. I got the Mango & Passionfruit one. It’s quite sweet, being a juice, but also refreshing. I quite liked it.
  5. Blossom Hill Spritz £4.99. You can choose whether you want your box to include alcohol or not. I currently have mine including it so I got a bottle of this very fresh and summery wine in my box.
  6. Rowntree’s Randoms 30% Less Sugar £1.29. They were really nice. I’m loving the less sugary versions of things and if you can make sweets that are essentially pure sugar less sugary then I’m all for it.
  7. Weetabix Additions Coconut & Raisin £2.99. I haven’t tried them yet but am very much looking forward to it.
  8. Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Red & White Quinoa £1.99. Again one thing that I haven’t tried yet, but am excited to try.
  9. Ryvita Thins Three Cheese £1.89. Oh my delicious goodness. They were sooooooo nice. I think they were one of my most favourite things in this box actually. I could’ve devoured the whole thing if I didn’t have to share. I guess I should be glad that I did have to share though haha.

Overall I’m very happy with what I got in there and am eagerly looking forward to my August box.

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(Also if you’re now thinking it’s something you would like to try then I’m more than happy to share my invitation link which gives you £7 discount for the first box, making it £5.99, and some points for me!)

I’ll go get some more of those three cheese thins now. Or maybe not… I probably shouldn’t.

G.

Challenges, Crafts, My life

What a Crafty little creature

I made something! With my own hands! So proud. Sooooooo proud. It’s been ages since I’ve made anything, so this little project was oh so welcome. As my husband (Hahaha, it’s still very funny to say that, I’m so not used to having a husband) got me this set of really pretty brightly coloured yarns (my favourite kind), I’ve been thinking for a long time what to make from them.

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After careful consideration, I decided to make a plastic bag holder! You know, the ones where you plop plastic bags in from the top and pull them out from the bottom? That’s the one. It may not be obvious from the pictures, but trust me, stick some plastic bags in it and it’s good to go. Perfect for people who like to be all organised and neat. Or if you just want a quick little crocheting project to work on.

Uhmm… I’m not sure about any instructions. I mean, I did take pictures of what I did but I don’t think I could explain what’s going on on said pictures. I may give it a go?

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First I made a chain of about 15 stitches and connected it to make a loop.

Technical: CH 15, join with sl st to make a loop. (Yes, I had to google this)

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Then I made some normal stitches into the loop. It was between 35-40, but I don’t know how many exactly. I guess I could try and count from the picture, but I don’t want to. Then I joined the last stitch to the first and made one normal chain up.

Technical: Hdc 35-40 in the loop. Sl st to connect the circle. Ch 1. (That’s as technical as I can be)

 

After that I just kept going until I ran out of wool, really.

Technical: Repeat previous row.

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Now, I’ve never been great with changing colours and I’ve pretty much avoided it where I could. However, (everyone who can actually crochet, please skip this part) I just made my final stitch with one colour, then tied the ends of the green and orange (my next colour) together at the point where my stitch was, so the next one was already done with the next colour. It’s alright if that makes no sense, I did it different every time.

Technical: Uhmmm… Just keep going?

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It kept growing! It took me a few hours altogether as I was watching TV at the same time which slowed me down a little, but it was a lot of fun.

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Now all I had left to do was hiding the loose ends. Oh, and the handle, I guess. Basically I just made a chain, fastened it on the other side, made a row of stitches back, fastened it, went the other way again. I had to redo it a couple of times as I couldn’t get the length quite right the first few times.

Technical: Ch x (how ever long you want the handle), sl st, ch 1 (don’t know if you have to do it, but I think you would do), sl st to the bag, hdc back, sl st, ch 1, sl st to the bag, hdc back again. Sl st to finish. (If it made no sense, don’t worry, it probably only works in my head)

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Tadaaaaaah! Your very own hand made plastic bag holder. It doesn’t sound very glamorous, but if you want to reuse your shopping bags then you may as well have somewhere pretty to keep them, I think. Plus it feels soooooooo good to make something and then be able to use it!

Let me know your ideas for any future projects I could do 🙂

G.