The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a collection of short stories by Stephen King. This is his sixth published collection of short stories. Some of the stories included in the collection however have been printed or have been previously available online. For example Blockade Billy can be found published alone and Mile 51 and Ur have been available on Kindle. Although this is the case, in an author’s note at the beginning of the publication King writes ‘some of these stories have been previously published, but that doesn’t mean they were done then’. Thus, as readers we are given the understanding that there could be changes and improvements to the stories, that they should not be overlooked.

Although I am nowhere near an expert in King’s work, and have only ready a small number of his publications, I am a fan of his. Therefore, when I came across this publication of short stories, I did not hesitate to purchase it. I do not often read short stories however at a time when I was not ready to commit to a full length novel I thought The Bazaar of Bad Dreams would be perfect. This was because I figured that short stories would be a low commitment. However, upon reading the first couple of stories I could not put the book down. I found each story was so well written, engaging and gripping that I did not want to cease reading them. Understandably, I do have favourites in the collection. These being, Ur, The Little Green God of Agony, and Obits. Although these are three stories which are extremely different, all three presented a different reality. Ur, presenting a story about alternative realities, The Little Green God of Agony, a story displaying an exorcism type event and Obits about a columnist who can kill people by writing their obituaries. These were three concepts which intrigued me the most and found that I could not pause from reading. From these three stories alone, you can see just how diverse this collection of King’s work is.

The diversity in this collection is something which thoroughly surprised me. As somebody who thinks of Stephen King and only pictures horror, I have been pleasantly surprised. I have been introduced to new sides of King, sides that I did not know existed. Thus, I am more inclined to delve further into his many literary works and discover how much more King can surprise and challenge my initial perceptions of him and his writing.

Alongside each story, King offers up an intimate author’s note which introduces each tale to the reader. This is something I have not yet come across and thus makes each short story more unique and personal. As we discover where the idea for the story stemmed from and why King felt the need to write the following story. This draws us, as readers, closer to the author, enabling us understanding of the mindset and the feelings King had whilst writing the stories. Something which is so rarely done with the literature we read.

Out of the publications I have read recently The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is one of my favourites. It is perfect for those who do not wish to commit to a full-length novel, for those who are die hard King fans and those who may not have read King’s work before. The amount of diversity King offers us as a reader means that there is something for everyone. And I would highly recommend you find your ‘bad dream’.

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Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

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Enduring Love is a novel written by British writer Ian McEwan. The story revolves around two strangers whose lives become entangled following a deadly incident. Although the novel has received mixed reviews, I have found this novel to be extremely thought provoking and engaging. The gripping events of McEwan’s first chapter excellently sets up the continuation of the novel. McEwan’s writing in this chapter is beautiful and emotional thus we experience the events alongside McEwan’s main characters Joe and Clarissa. We are brought along on the journey of coming to terms with the events of the first chapter. We, alongside the characters, are faced with questions of love, trust, and moral dilemmas.

What I enjoyed about this novel is how the relationship between Joe, Clarissa and Jed, three of the people present at the ‘incident’, is portrayed. As the novel progresses from the initial chapter we learn that Jed has become obsessed with Joe, and thus becomes Joe’s stalker. However, when reading the novel I found myself questioning what was the true reality of the situation. This is because I found, through the conversations between Joe and Clarissa and conversations between Joe and Jed, I begun to question what was really happening. Was there more than meets the eye? (so to speak).

However, although I thoroughly enjoyed the journey this novel took me on, I was a little disappointed with the ending. I felt it ended a little flat. For the length of time this novel took to tell its story you cannot help but be a little disappointed with its conclusion. I was definitely hoping for a little more than McEwan gave us.

The novel is brilliant in the way it demonstrates our mortality and questions themes of love, trust, and morality. It is a novel that provokes thought and reasoning from the reader, thus it makes an interesting read. I am a big fan of Ian McEwan, however, if you’re new to his work I would recommend starting with one of his other novels. (maybe, Atonement) As although Enduring Love is engaging, the novel does fall flat towards the end. It is therefore not a novel to judge Ian McEwan’s work on, as he has written many other excellent pieces of work. (Atonement, The Child in Time, Saturday)

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Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

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Birdsong is the second novel in Sebastian Faulks’ French trilogy. Preceded by The Girl at the Lion d’Or and succeeded by Charlotte Gray. Although each novel is not directly linked, the novels relate in term of their themes and subject matters; they all graphically portray characters’ lives during war time. Birdsong is set around the First World War. The story itself centres around the character Stephen Wraysford who arrives in the French town of Amiens in 1910. Throughout the novel, we see the twist and turns of Stephen’s life, from his love affair which tears a family apart, to his participation in the war itself.

Birdsong is a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a novel which keeps you on your toes and guessing about where the story is heading from beginning to end. The contrasts Faulks creates between life prior to the war and during the war is fascinating. By using vivid imagery, we as readers, get a thorough image of what life was like for soldiers fighting in the war. However, what Faulks does often and brilliantly, during more grotesque war scenes is leave many chapters on cliff hangers, by moving on to something new in the next. This you may feel is counterproductive, you may think how can you get a true grasp of the story this way. But Faulks writes in such a way that he divulges just enough information to understand the horrors of the war without making the reader feel so grotesque and so repulsed that they cannot continue with the story. This I feel was extremely effective in my reading of the novel as this technique continuously made me want to progress further and further with the novel.

As somebody who finds The Great War to be an extremely interesting topic I am a little bias when it comes to speaking about this novel. However, if you are going to read any piece of fiction that revisits this era I encourage you to make it Faulks’ novel. The descriptive language, the tone and passion that pours from the book makes this novel one in a million.

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End note: Working Title Films (BBC) produced a two-part adaptation of Birdsong in 2012. The adaptation starred the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Richard Madden and Clémence Poésy. 

 

So Much For a Quick Update…

Along with everything else I have going on, on this site, every now and then I do tend to write a sort of ‘life update’ post. So, if you’re interested what the last couple of weeks has brought me then continue on… (i’ll warn you, this will be a complete random selection of topics)

I’ve been trying to concentrate more on university the last couple of weeks or so. Since it is my third year I don’t want to be staying in the same kind of slump I’ve been continuously in for the last two years. In doing so I have found that I hate being in the house so much! My university hours are ridiculous as it is. I’m only required to be in for >six hours a week img_2079over two days this semester. (And I’m paying nine grand, for what?) So, after my lectures and seminars I’ve been avoiding going back to the house for as long as possible. Usually this is by simply going for a walk. You could say I’m taking the long way home… that is going the complete opposite direction and turning back when I reach the river Mersey! Last week though I saw myself going to Waterstones. I accidentally found a couple of books to buy (The Vegetarian by Han Kang and Alice by Christina Henry) and headed upstairs to the café. I definitely spent more time sat with cappuccinos than I probably should have. The store started off busy, but as time went on and one cappuccino became two, I was left being one of the only ones still there. It was so peaceful though. I’m not usually one to sit in a café reading alone, but I will be doing it again…

To avoid going back to the same store/café two days in a row, the following day, I went to the Central Library in Liverpool. How have I got to my third year, as an English student,inside-the-picton-reading-room and never been to this library. I have always wanted to go here, more so because you can climb to the top and get a great view of the city. However, I also found the Picton Reading Room, which I previously knew nothing about. I must tell you; the room is what dreams are made of. It’s like an old-style library. Completely silent with people working and reading, but you’re surrounded by shelves and shelves of books in a beautiful interior with spiral staircases. When you’re in there it just feels like you’re in another lifetime. I almost felt bad when I had to get my phone out to check the time. Needless to say, I spent a good few hours in there.

dsc_0278Along with these little adventures, I finally ordered and received, an LED Nail Lamp. I have wanted to buy one of these myself for so long. I know some of you may read this and just be angered that I want to do Gel nails as a non-professional on my own at home. But I am a student, I can’t afford to pay for professional nails constantly. I did a lot of research beforehand, bought everything I could possibly need and happen to think I have managed to do a great job! Thus, I will continue to do so. This though has caused me to be constantly looking for gel nail polishes in all colours of the rainbow. (Thank god for Mansion Student and my free Amazon Vouchers!) So, I’m currently waiting for pot after pot of nail colour to arrive in the mail. I’m just praying they arrive as they are shown. Unlike my first gel nail colour, a temperature changing one, which came slightly different from ordered. So, watch out people, things online aren’t always real! I will absolutely be updating you on this amazing purchase in future. (Hopefully once all my colours have arrived)

dsc_0280Completely switch up here, but I just wanted to congratulate myself for half completing one of my summer goals. Yes, my summer goals! If you read my past post where I made a list of goals for me to complete over summer, you’ll be aware that I wanted to read into mythology. This was one of my more ‘random’ goals. However, over the last few years at university I realised so many people around me knew so much about Greek mythology. And my god, how many times was it relevant to discussions on my course?! So, I thought I would be reactive and educate myself on this subject. I’m only what? Two months on from summer? So, I thought now would be perfect time to complete this summer goal. Right? Anyway, I purchased The Penguin Book of Classical Myths written by Jenny March, to achieve this goal. I have begun reading it, although there are so many names it often gets difficult to keep up. It’s definitely going to have to be a read that I completely focus upon. It may take me a little longer than I originally thought. I am though, determined to read it, and actually learn something!

img_2046I have though during the course of the last couple of weeks managed to retrieve some of my ‘lost’ student life. Or my ‘lost’ social life. With Halloween just passing, there have been ample opportunities for some night out fun. Which i can happily say has happened. I really don’t know what has happened this year but we just don’t go out anymore. It’s like us saying we’re going to knuckle down third year has actually happened. Who’d have thought it? Not me. And i certainly don’t like it… Speaking of Halloween, check out this amazing cakes. I had my first cake-a-way recently, and oh my it was amazing. But seriously how do people create these masterpieces?

Also, after spray painting my hair with crazy neon colours for Halloween i decided i really liked pink hair. So i took the plunge and bought some semi permanent ‘candy floss’ hair dye. So currently, yes, i am rocking pink hair. It may look patchy in some lights, it may barely49970927394__f51699fd-3b84-4d7a-a3c0-86e19f412e8c show up in others but i am loving it! Shame that it’ll wash out in a couple of weeks. Who knows, i may do this more often. (probably should have gotten a better photo than that…)

Along with this, doing nails, writing my blogs and everything else I still have university to focus on. The first assignment deadlines are drawing in, and all I can do is question where the beginning of September went. I’m completely unsure of how these last couple of months have passed so quickly! Where is Bernard’s Watch? I need to stop time! It’s scary to think that I will soon be graduating, and I am still not entirely sure what I want to be doing once that happens. Why have I never been one of those people that has their life sorted out? A question that has crossed my mind time and time again. Clearly it has not helped though. Off I go to try and sort that aspect of my life out so,

Until next time…

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang

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The Vegetarian is a novel by Han Kang. I came across this novel, translated by Deborah Smith, in Waterstones. It is not a novel I had heard about before but I just knew I had to give it a read. It also helped that one of the booksellers was saying how gruesome and slightly disturbing the story was!

The novel itself is short so I found myself getting through it quickly. It is split up into three ‘sections’. Each one comes from a different character’s perspective. Sometimes I do find this a little annoying as you can feel as though you are not properly connecting with a protagonist. However, upon reading this novel it is easy to see how keeping it written in a single perspective would just not work. Therefore, I feel it is giving us a more rounded picture as we progress through the novel.

The first section is narrated by Yeong-Hye’s husband, he tells us about his wife who in the first couple of lines he describes as being ‘completely unremarkable in every way.’ He informs the reader of Yeong-Hye’s choice to become a vegetarian. Although he himself is a little confused as to her reasons for this lifestyle choice, we as the reader get glimpses of her reasoning. We are giving the gruesome, slightly disturbing, ‘dream’ Yeong-Hye often refers to.

The second section is darker than the first. It is narrated by Mr Cheung, Yeong-Hye’s brother in law. Mr Cheung is an aspiring artist who becomes fascinated with his sister in law and a birthmark that she potentially has. Through this he asks Yeong-Hye to feature in one of his artistic creations, a video.

The third section is when the novel becomes very weird. It is narrated by Yeong-Hye’s sister and this is when we see the true progression of Yeong-Hye’s vegetarianism. We realise quickly how extreme Yeong-Hye’s desires have become, we learn that she wants to become a tree. Intent on becoming a tree, she refuses food and does some pretty bizarre things. Unaware it seems, how she is hurting those around her.

I found the book extraordinary. More so because it is unlike anything I have ever read before. It’s completely bizarre, but in this I feel it captures the essence of ‘madness’. As Ian McEwan is quoted on the cover: ‘A novel of sexuality and madness that deserves its great success’. For a reader, this ‘madness’ is completely over our heads. I personally found it difficult to keep up with, simply because it is not something I am able to fully understand. I feel this is similar for a lot of people. The point is though, even though it seems bizarre, it all makes sense to Yeong-Hye. Her thoughts, aspirations and actions all make perfect sense. To her they are not madness, but they are reality. This is something I find interesting; everyone’s reality is different. Although yes her actions may be killing her, it leaves me with a bit more of an understanding of what we deem ‘mad’. An understanding that people we brush off as just being ‘mad’ are simply seeing a different reality to the one I am seeing. Does that make it Yeong-Hye’s or anybody else’s fault? Definitely not, they have simply just been giving a different sense of reality.

Although I don’t believe this book is for everybody, it has been blessed with some brilliant reviews: The Guardian called it ‘an extraordinary experience’ and the Independent called it ‘spellbinding’. For this alone I would be enticed to see what the fuss was about. Therefore I encourage you to take a couple of hours and read Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, to see what you make of it yourself.

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One Day by David Nicholls

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The latest novel I have read and have been eager to review is David Nicholls’ One Day. The novel was first published in 2009 so I realise I am late to the party. However, it is a piece of work which I have not had the chance and the motivation to read until very recently.

The novel tells the story of the two protagonist’s lives, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, over a twenty-year span. Zoning in on one day a year, 15th July (St Swithin’s Day) every year. The novel starts on the day they met, their graduation night. We see Emma struggle with the concept of a ‘one night stand’ in contrast to Dexter’s ‘Lothario’ characteristics, who knows these situations only too well. Over the years we see their friendship go through ups and downs as they progress throughout their own personal lives. Both characters struggle with what they are achieving throughout life and what they are expected to have achieved. Throughout all this though, Nicholls gives us an endearing tale of a close friendship, showcasing their flirtations, banter and often yearning they have for one another.

If your only contact with this novel is through the 2011 adaptation directed by Lone Scherfig, please do not let this hold you back from reading the novel. The film itself I believe got mixed reviews, many people picking up on Anne Hathaway’s (Emma) accent throughout the film. On watching the film, I found she often switches up her British accent, going from a thick northern accent to a far more southern one. Although this can be understandable as British people are known to flip between accents, personally I just feel the accent switches were just far too extreme. I am though not here to review the film but the novel. So, I will just say this: please do not watch the film and believe you have seen all that David Nicholls’ novel has to offer.

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the structure and how Nicholls had crafted it. I have yet to come across another novel which holds a similar writing method. In the way that Nicholls drops in on his characters just one day a year. I was dubious at first, unable to contemplate how Nicholls could create such an in depth and emotional story when we only get glimpses of his protagonist’s lives. I was pleasantly surprised though, i found the characters developed effectively, and with that the story progressed just as well. I found it interesting that we as readers watched the two characters grow from university students and progress into their early and then later adulthood. This I found effective as I am so used to reading novels where we only see just the snippet of a character’s life. We only experience one aspect of their life where some event is going on or something has happened to them. Nicholls’ novel however I feel is far more realistic in that we experience the characters’ numerous ups and downs through their life. We are given the realism in that life doesn’t run smoothly bar one or two negative/happy events. Thus demonstrating that life is far more complicated than that.

This therefore is a book I would recommend. I found that once I started reading it I did struggle to put the novel down. This I feel is always a telling sign as to whether the book is any good or not. After all who wants to continue reading a book that doesn’t entice you in to read more? So whether you are a fan of a good romance novel or simply want to try something new, delving into the world of One Day and experiencing 20 years of Emma and Dexter’s life is definitely something you should be considering.

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High Street Beauty Haul

I had a lot of fun writing my last beauty blog, so I decided to write another. It also helped that I have recently found so many beauty products that I’m currently not sure I could ever live without. So I wanted to share them with you all. Maybe give a little bit of inspiration.

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First up, and most expensive of all my purchases, is the Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation. Now, I wouldn’t usually be so willing to spend so much money on one product. (I think I paid around £30) But I had been debating the purchase of this product for so long. I went and had my skin electronically matched multiple times as I wanted to dsc_0240be sure of the shade I was buying. The idea of paying so much and then finding out it was the wrong colour genuinely terrified me! Finally though, after seeing so many people give positive reviews I decided to take the plunge. And I am so glad I did. You can really see the difference made by spending that little extra on your foundation. Even more so because your foundation will either make or break the rest of your make up. I have forever looked for a foundation that gave me a good coverage without looking too cakey. And I got exactly this from this Estee Lauder. It is also easily buildable, so at times when you need more coverage you can do just that. I love it so much I have started using it every day. Something which I am trying to cut down on because I don’t want to be running out of it too quickly. Although many people have said one bottle lasts them three or so months. As a student and with limited fund I hope to extend this further. So I’ll keep you updated!

dsc_0245If you read my last beauty post, you’ll know how much I love both Nyx and Sleek. Therefore, it is understandable then the rest of the products I am going to talk about are from these two particular brands. Since there’s less of them I will talk about the Sleek products I bought first. Firstly, is the ‘Storm’ i-Divine Eye Shadow Palette. I previously spoke about the ‘Enchanted Forest’ version of this palette, and this is exactly the same. In the way that the colours are just so pretty, they’re highly pigmented and they’re long lasting. They a hundred percent stand the test of time, whether day or night. Alike the previous palette I bought this one consisted of both matte and shimmer shades. These are perfect to create a wide variety of eye shadow looks. The palette itself consists of browns and golds, very earthy tones. I very rarely go for dark, bold colours so this palette is perfect for somebody like me. It enables me to create a subtler smokey eye, yet the sparkles and glitter on some of the shades keep you feeling like you’re still making an effort. I have fallen so in love with the i-Divine Eyeshadow Palettes that I truly believe I will keep buying them until I dsc_0266have the entire collection. Obviously then, I would highly recommend you get your hands on one of them and try them out for yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts on them!

DSC_0246.JPGSecondly is the Sleek Highlighting Palette in Solstice. This is the first highlighting palette I have bought, so I don’t really have much to compare it to. I don’t know why I have never bought a palette for highlighting, but I usually just use the highlighter included in my contour palettes. When I saw this palette in Boots though I just knew I had to purchase it. From the packaging to the pigmentation and the shades I just couldn’t resist. The palette itself is gold and consists of four different sparkly shades. One is more of a cream whereas the other three are all powders. The shades themselves are so pretty. A little bit dsc_0262shocking at first, I mean one is purple! I had no idea whether I would even use that. However once applied I found it to be the perfect highlight along the cheekbones. Personally I found the colours can be used very subtly but they can also be built up to create a more dramatic look. If you wanna sparkle like a unicorn, this is the palette for you! The palette also comes with a small applicator brush. This I found ok, not the best. I prefer to use my fingers to highlight my nose and cupids bow. And I also have another brush I’ve previously bought which I prefer to use when highlighting over my cheekbones. This is definitely just personal preference though.

Ok, on to the Nyx products. I feel like there were so many products I wanted to buy from the Nyx counter on this shop. However, I attempted to hold back a little in order to not go too crazy and spend my entire student loan during one make up haul. Last time I ordered Nyx online and it was my first time trying any of their products. So this time, after getting great results from this initial order I decided to head to a Nyx counter. This was both a good and a bad decision. Good in that I got to see everything in person prior to purchasing the products, but bad in that there was just so much choice. I found myself continuously placing items into my shopping basket, so much so that I had to start putting some back. After all of this I finished off with a small selection which I will continue to talk about now. dsc_0254Firstly, is something which I have been meaning to buy for a while, an eyeshadow base. And this Nyx shadow base is exactly what I have been looking for. It is a white cream style product, which goes onto the lids so smoothly. The pot is relatively small but since you don’t need to use a lot of the product I can see it lasting a very long time. I was actually shocked at the effect it had on my eyeshadows though. It made them appear so much more vibrant and even made blending of different shades/colours so much easier. The only problem I found with it though is if I have put foundation or concealer on my eye area the product doesn’t apply quite so smoothly. So if you’re somebody who applies foundation to your lids (or like me find yourself doing it on the odd occasion) maybe be a little more careful on the application.

Next up is the Nyx Wonder Pencil. This was definitely a spontaneous buy, as I have not considered buying it previous to this day. However, it boasted to conceal flaws, brighten eyes and line your lips and for £4.00 I couldn’t resist trying it out. I bought this in the ‘light’ as I have reached the point of being super pale for the autumn/winter months and I just don’t want to carry on fake tanning. I have found myself using this pencil daily. Not necessarily for all three uses though. Mainly I have been using this pencil in order to brighten my eyes. I have found using it along the water line and also in the corner of my eyes makes me look so much more awake, as well as making my eyes look so much bigger. (Bonus!) Using it as a lip liner is something I have found myself doing intermittently. I don’t often wear a coloured lip so understandably I wouldn’t use the pencil to line my lips every day. However, when I have used it for this purpose I found it to be quite effective. It works as a reverse liner rather than an actual liner. By this I mean you apply the product around the lips rather than on them. This, just like regular liner prevents your lip colour from bleeding out. When it comes to using this product as a concealer though, I am not sold. I have tried to cover blemishes with this pencil a couple of times but I don’t feel like it gives the kind of coverage I expect from a concealer. Yes, it’s precise. It is a pencil, it’s thin, why wouldn’t it be precise? But I just don’t believe it works in the role of a concealer! Though for the price I paid I would still definitely buy the pencil again, I just won’t be concealing with it.

dsc_0257Thirdly is the Nyx Blotting Powder. Now I previously bought the Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot Powder for £12.00. Personally I did not enjoy this product. It only offered one colour option, which was meant for all skin types and tones. The powder itself was very pale and even myself a pretty pale person found that it further washed me out. It was far too pigmented to be used on a vast range of skin tones. It also sank into my skin, emphasising my pores and left my skin quite dry. Nyx’s version of the blotting powder however, I have found to be a lot more promising. It is also slightly cheaper than Soap & Glory at £10.50. The best thing about this product is that it comes in a few different shades, so hopefully they have you all covered. For myself I bought the shade ‘light/medium’. I have found this to be perfect for my skin tone at the moment. The product itself offers only a slight hint of pigment however this is understandable as it is a blotting powder rather than a foundation. It comes in a small compact with a mirror and an applicator which I love as I can take it anywhere. Including a small clutch bag on a night out. Hallelujah! There’s no doubt about it, I love this product. I am prone to oily skin so finding a product which I can continuously use throughout the day without it building up and looking dreadful is amazing. So if you’re anything like me I would definitely recommend you give this product a go.

dsc_0248Next up, I’m nearly there I promise, is the Nyx Highlight & Contour Pro Palette. This is something that I spoke about in a previous post. Back then though I was under the impression that the palette was a cream palette, this I now know was false. I also previously decided to veer away from purchasing it as I wasn’t prepared to pay the £18.00. Time has passed since then though and I finally decided to just take the plunge. I really like this palette. I have decided that powder contour is the one for me. I find it so much easier to blend and to work with, I just can’t find the technique with cream contour. What impressed me the most about this product though was the idea of being able to replace each individual shade. I have found previously that I tend to use one shade significantly more than others so it gets to the point where I have to buy a whole new palette just for that one colour. This feature of the Nyx palette though enables you to replace only the colours that you need. What more could you want? Another plus of this palette is that it consists of four ‘highlighting’ shade and four ‘contouring’ shades which means the palette is easy to work with. It also means that this one palette can work for a whole range of skin tones. Instead of trying to work out whether you need the ‘light’, ‘medium’ or ‘dark’, you just buy the one standard palette. The powders themselves are so pigmented, not what I was used to at all. I had to completely alter how I applied the contour as I found the way I did it previously I was using too much of the product. This though I am completely happy about, as I am using less product and therefore allowing the palette to last longer. Just what I want when I have paid more than I ever desired to. I haven’t used the ‘highlight’ colours too much, since I have bought the Sleek highlighting palette. However, when I am feeling like putting minimal effort in I have used the Ice Queen highlighter. This gives your cheeks a real subtle highlight, which looks great for everyday use!

dsc_0251Lastly, and the best purchases I have made, are three shades from the Nyx Lip Lingerie Lipstick collection. The lipsticks themselves leave your lips with weightless matte finish. I have recently fallen in love with having a matte lip thus I fell in love with this collection.  I bought ‘Corset’, ‘Push Up’ and ‘Exotic’, three beautiful shades. I found when looking at the collection as a collective on the shelf they all looked very similar. Don’t let that put you offimg_1967 though. When you get up closer to the shades and try them out you’ll see a huge difference. So first off to the right is ‘Corset’. This I feel has tones of purple and grey coming through. I really like this colour, but I do feel like it requires more than one coat to get the ultimate effect. Since the lipsticks are light and moisturising though I don’t find this to be much of an issue. It just img_1972takes a little bit longer to get the desired look. Next up to the left is ‘Push Up’. This is more of a natural looking pink. I always have a hard time finding a pink lip colour that suits my skin tone and that I can wear day to day. In ‘Push Up’ I feel like I have found the perfect colour. Also, unlike ‘Corset’, ‘Push Up’ is perfect with just the single coat. I don’t know why this is the case since they’re both from the same collection. Maybe this is just aimg_1974 unique to me, and you will have different experiences. I’d love to hear your what your results were like with this collection. Lastly though, to the right, is ‘Exotic’. This is definitely a lipstick I have been pining for. A red that isn’t too bright, isn’t too dark, suits my skin tone, is matte, long lasting and I feel confident wearing. I thought I was never going to find it. img_1959But here I am, with this beautiful lipstick. This is the product I am most pleased with. I mean come on, look how pretty it is. The colour glides on so easily and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get it looking good. This is always a bonus for me as I hate faffing around with lips, because I am so terrible at them. So a hundred percent I would recommend you check out this Nyx Collection, there’s definitely a shade to suit everyone. I a hundred percent will be buying some more in the future, because for £6.50 they’re so so good!

If you have made it thus far I congratulate and thank you. I wasn’t anticipating how long this post was going to be. But I was so excited about all of these great products that I just had to share them all with you. I’m also impressed in myself that in the last two make up splurges I haven’t bought an item that turned out to be terrible. Amazing, right? That never happens… for me anyway. As always if you have any recommendations or thoughts I would love to hear them, but

Until next time…

X

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The Beginning of the End

And just like that I have made it to my third year of university. I’m not sure how I have got myself here, or why it has gone so quickly. But nevertheless it is here and I am feeling mixed emotions. Happy because I have got myself thus far, but sad that it is nearly over. It is therefore ‘the beginning of the end.’ It’s such a cliché but it honestly does feel like yesterday that I was moving into student halls for my first year. Now here I am, moved in and settled into the house for my final year.

fullsizerenderI am living in the same house as I was last year. However, I have moved rooms in order to maintain the excitement of redecorating an alien space to make it my own. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the new room is significantly larger. I always get a buzz out of redecorating a new room as I feel like it’s part of the experience of moving away. Being able to decorate a space and anything and everything is completely up to you. I’ve also noticed that each year I tend to progress and change styles. Is this me growing up? My first year I can remember my room just felt so chaotic. There was stuff everywhere. Fair enough the room was smaller but still why didn’t I buy storage?! This year though is significantly different. I have been adult enough to buy storage and a mini book-case. I have also gone for, I feel, a very minimalist look. I have left so many clothes and so many ‘things’ that I never wore and never used at home. And my god don’t I feel good about it. Why do we think we need all this stuff? Like I used to pack things with a ‘just in case’ mindset. It’s just crazy. But here I am, having got two years of IMG_1939.JPGpacking experience behind me. I have made progress.

What is also sad about this year is that it was (or should be) the last year I will get to experience freshers as a student. There is a stark contrast between my freshers in third year and my freshers in first year. I didn’t realise it would be quite so bad, but I did find myself only going out twice in the week/two-week freshers. Compare that to first year where I went out more or less every day, yeah there’s a difference. But you know what? I didn’t miss it, and I don’t regret not going out more. I’ve said it for a while now, but I really do think I’m getting to that point where I’d definitely rather have a chill night in than going to a club. Plus, I’d rather keep the money myself than spend it on taxis, alcohol, entry fees and end of the night food. This img_1988lack of going out has even done me good. I decided to give Bootea a go. Just as little detox, try to sort me out a bit. I’m half way through now and I think it’s going well. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be to keep on track and keep drinking the teas. Also, they’re not as disgusting as I have seen a lot of people say. Granted the night-time tea is the best of the two, but the morning isn’t terrible.

However what hasn’t changed for me this year though is my addiction to shopping. I swear it’s like when people go bungee jumping or take drugs or I dunno. I seem to get some kind of high from spending, which later dwindles once I realise the damage I’ve done. First step of an addiction is admitting to it, right? Maybe by the end of the year I’ll be on my way to getting ‘sober’. Either way though the start of a new uni year in shopping terms only ever means img_1877the latest student fest in Liverpool. This is a great time for people like me. Anywhere and everywhere in town have the greatest student deals, offering crazy discounts. For just one day only it’s impossible to resist. Understandably then, I was unable to. I admit I spent more than intended. However, I did buy some great things. A lot of these I will admit come under the heading of ‘make-up’. I will be writing a blog about all the products I got my hands on. So really? I was just doing research for my blog. It’s all for you! Aside from the make-up though I want to direct attention to two of my favourite purchases so far. First is this gorgeous green knitted dress, perfect for the colder days. I found it in New Look, I think it was only like £20. It’s definitely not something I would usually go for but it is super comfy and just completely on point that I couldn’t resist. Secondly is these amazing trainers I bought. From Primark of all places. I rarely  shop there, and I don’t think I’ve img_1940ever bought a pair of shoes from there. But, I have fallen in love. The image doesn’t do them justice. They are gold and glittering and so ridiculously comfy. It’s hard to comprehend how they only cost £12. I will certainly be checking out their trainer selection more often. Watch this space!

Now the idea is concentrate on uni. Somehow I’ve managed to get a timetable that involves me being in uni only twice a week this semester. So I pray I’m not silly enough to start having the casual ‘sick day’ like I have done the previous two years. I am so far, you’ll be glad to hear, doing well! Time will tell though. I’m also contemplating getting a job alongside my studies. I’m not sure how wise this idea is in third year, but I could do with the extra cash for so many different reasons. If you have had any experience of working alongside img_1936your studies I would love to hear about it! I don’t feel like I have a lot of work to do, this semester I only have four assignments, but there is just so much to read.(the image shows less than a quarter of what i need to read) How is it possible? Because I don’t know anybody that manages to read all of the required reading let alone the recommended. So who decided this was all humanly possible? I’d like to know.

Anyway, I say time and time again but I’m hoping to improve my blogging. The content and the rate, most importantly the rate! When else in my life am i gonna have so much free time to just sit and blog? Maybe this beginning of the end will turn out to simply be the beginning of something great. Who knows? So this is me here saying as the adult I have become, I will do this. (Please Hannah do this) so….

Until next time…

x

End of Summer Road Trip

We may have just reached October, but I completely forgot to share the events of the end of my summer, and the road trip I took with a friend. So of course I have to go back to summer for this next blog post and divulge all the details of that week here…

img_0905I’m like the poorest person when it comes to summer, (always a nightmare), so this year we decided to keep it relatively ‘Hannah friendly’ and go on a road trip. Our main goal was to get down to Dorset, to the Jurassic coast for a few days camping. However, on the way there and on the return journey we decided to make some stop offs. I’ll keep it chronological and start with the way there. That makes sense, right? So, to split up our four or five-hour journey down to the coast we stopped off at Stonehenge. Which, if you remember, was on my ‘Summer to do list’. Yay, I finally can tick that off! I’m not sure what I was expecting, I mean I had visited before when I was a lot younger and didn’t have a clue what my parents were taking me to. But I feel like since then I’d been taken in with the romanticism of the landmark. Although yeah pretty great, some big rocks from years and years ago, mysterious and all that. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty underwhelmed. I did however get a lot of great photos. I’m pretty sure we were the only two there not taking the whole scene seriously and were just having a laugh.img_1006

From there we carried on going to our destination; Durdle Door. We booked in to stay right on the coast at the Durdle Door Holiday Park, in a little wooden pod. Not quite camping, but not quite glamping. It was smaller than the pictures led us to believe, however it was perfect for us and we were not planning on spending a lot of time there anyway. Luckily for us the weather was great all week so we were able to do just this. Bonus though, the pod looked so cute at night when we were chilling from our days out. Just major regrets for not taking some cute fairy lights and getting all vibey.

Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but the Holiday Park was a perfect pick. It was right on the door step of two different beaches, Durdle Door itself and also Man O’War img_1124beach. As well as these Lulworth Cove was just a short walk along the cliffs. Reading this back it makes it sound like such a relaxing time away. And although it was mostly, man, the walk down to and up from the beaches were a killer. So steep and rocky, and just no. However, it was a hundred percent worth the effort. And you always feel good after putting in that sort of effort, don’t you? The beaches themselves were so lovely. I have so many photos it’s hard to choose a select few! I am a little regretful that I never went ahead with swimming through the Durdle Door arch, as I feel like that’s 14333012_10209510247726409_634567678369222283_nsomething you have to do.But I keep telling myself we never managed to get down there when it would’ve been safer to do so. And also we did manage to have an evening swim on Man O’War, so I actually can’t feel too bad. That was definitely one of the best nights though. Having the beach basically to ourselves and swimming in the cove after a long day of walking. The many people watching from the clifftops must have thought we were a little mad, it wasn’t exactly warm weather.

We spent one of our days in Lulworth Cove. The walk itself was probably less than a mile along the coastal cliffs. On the way there, such a lovely stroll looking at all the scenery. On the way back, killer feet and nearing on vertical walk up a cliff. (Ok, maybe a little bit of img_1111exaggeration) Either way though, it was worth the walk. We were greeted with a cute little village, and a beautiful cove. We relaxed on the rather stony beach, I had my first fish and chips at a lovely pub, (The Lulworth Cove Inn) and we went on a boat along the coast. It is definitely worth checking out if you are ever in the area. And if you have more time I saw an activities centre which you could take advantage of and go exploring stair hole and other such things!

img_1166Another of our days we spent a bit further afield. We drove along to Poole for a bit of a change of scenery. I don’t know how or why but somehow I also had romanticised Poole. Although we had a lovely walk along the waterfront, along the harbour, there wasn’t anything major going on there. So we continued on and found ourselves in Bournemouth. I had spent time there as a kid and surprisingly enough a lot of it remained the same to my eyes. And my god weren’t we happy to spend time on a beach with sand rather than stones! I feel like sand is just so much more tranquil, just because you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness and discomfort of walking along stones. It was also so hot there. We immediately were regretting not taking anything along to allow us to go in the water. And even to just chill there for a longer length of time. Unsurprisingly then we decided we would img_1192make a day of it the following day. Take our towels, swimwear, a picnic, a book, music etc etc etc so we could spend an entire day lapping up the sun. And it was such a good day. So windy though I am still, a month on, finding sand amongst the stuff I took with me. Annoying, but worth it. I also love Bournemouth beach. I love when you are able to just keep going when you’re in the water. Like you don’t feel like you have to stop, the currents are relatively ok, there’s no major drops from the ground and the waves are manageable. It’s just a safe, fun beach to go to. And there’s just so much to do there, with the pier, restaurants, bars, the beach itself, shops. Ideal if you ask me!

img_1225Bournemouth was our last full day, but on the way home we broke up the journey by stopping off at a place called Puzzlewood in Gloucestershire, in the Forest of Dean. At first I had no idea what I was going to, a puzzle in the woods? Hmm.  On its website it boasts of the various productions which have been filmed there, including Dr.Who. On arrival you can see why. It’s an interesting attraction and out of the two we did during the ‘journeys’: Stonehenge and Puzzlewood, I would definitely prefer to go to Puzzlewood again. Which is interesting in the sense that it is the least known of the two… and the cheapest. A hidden14265006_10209510243286298_531145024472763338_n gem, to me at least. Basically Puzzlewood is a maze. You go in and you have to find your way out again. In the meantime, keeping your eye out for specific elements. It’s an adventure, so a lot more fun! Along with this though there’s farmyard animals, there’s an indoor maze and there’s a café. So I can imagine it being a proper day out. For us though it was just nice to be out of the car, stretching our legs and all that jazz!

So that was our end of summer road trip type thing, all of this having spent less than £100 I cannot complain! We had such a good week, it was nice to be escaping our ‘real lives’ for a while. But also this just proves to me and everybody else, you don’t need to spend so much money when you’re planning a trip away! I am definitely now under the realisation that less can a lot of the time mean more.

 

Until next time…

x

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Sucker for the High Street

I thought I’d mix it up a little bit for this blog post and talk about some of the beauty buys I have recently made. I wouldn’t normally consider writing an entire blog dedicated to just beauty products, because frankly I’m not a beauty blogger in the slightest! However, I have fallen in love with my recent purchases and I just really wanted to share them with you. So if you’re interested in what products have got me so excited carry on reading. And if not? Well I guess we can part ways here.

IMG_0399I am a massive advocate of high street make up brands. I think this is because I am somebody who likes to get a lot for their money, rather than pay a lot for one or two items. (I’m probably the same across the board when it comes to spending) So high street brands are really up my street! I am though, more than aware that these cheaper brands do not necessarily always offer good products. And I have often fallen victim to the marketing teams and purchased products that are completely terrible. However, these little bumps in the high street make-up road only emphasise how great products are when they are good, and when they can match up to the high end brands! Also imagine if this wasn’t the case, and I was completely addicted to high end products. Being a student I would never survive! Therefore, I am always happy to spend a little time researching the best dupes for particular highly regarded products.IMG_0390Pictured above are the latest products I have added to my make-up collection. And before I go any further I am just going to say now, they are all brilliant! No regrets here. Half of these products are Nyx and half are Sleek make-up. Nyx is a brand which has become very successful over the last 15 or so years. An interesting fact? On research I found out that the company is actually named after the Greek Goddess who ruled the night and symbolised beauty and power. (unfortunately we don’t turn into this Goddess when wearing the make-up) Nyx is a company which offers high-quality, professional make-up at an accessible price. That’s right gals, an accessible price. My favourite concept! So after becoming extremely successful in the U.S the brand has come to the UK. A lot of their products were already available on the Boots website, so you may have already snatched up some great items. But if you haven’t, you now have the chance to buy them in store, as Boots has recently launched their range in stores across the UK. Yay!

IMG_0381I have heard a lot of great things about the Nyx brand. In particular I have heard that they do great dupes for the Kylie Lip Kits. I have been pining after the Dolce K kit that Kylie has produced, but being me, I haven’t been able to bring myself to spend all that money. So as you can imagine, I was extremely excited when I read so many people mentioning that Nyx’s Soft Matte Lip Creams act as Kylie dupes, as they are only £5.50 each. I purchased Dubai and Abu Dhabi from this collection. Dubai is a brown with, I’d say, an underlying reddy tone, which I find is a very dramatic colour. Abu Dhabi on the other hand is much lighter and a little bit subtler. You can see by my swatches (so beauty blogger-esque) they are two very rich colours; however, I do find that the Dubai requires two or three coats before you get its true colour. I was always hesitant about purchasing anything that was matte for my lips. I IMG_0457.JPGthink this was only because I’m not somebody who wears lipstick or lip gloss too often, so I was concerned that a matte lip would be very drying and look terrible after like an hour. I took the plunge though, and I am glad that I did! Although these are matte they are so creamy and moisturising that I knew my worries would not be a problem. So I definitely recommend these lip creams if you are like me and are a little bit more worried about taking the plunge. On top of that though, I tested these out to the extreme, on a day where I was spending hours in the car, being overfed by grandparents, spending time at the seaside etc etc. And the result? I think over the entire day (like 06:00-23:00) I only reapplied twice. The colour was extremely lasting, which I was majorly happy about because I hate worrying about reapplying all the time! I am definitely going to be buying some more colours from the collection. I’m just hoping I don’t get too distracted by choosing a city rather than the colour itself!

(I’m really not sure why i’m so white in that second picture, but you get the idea)

IMG_0439Next up from Nyx I decided to purchase the Dark Eye Concealer. Working nights, I thought this could be the perfect solution to the horrible bags under my eyes. The concealer itself has a ‘subtle hint of orange’ which is meant to counteract the purple dark circles. This I think is fantastic, as I am one of those people that have purchased a complete set of ‘colour correcting’ concealers. However, I have no idea which colours work for what unless I am in the mood or even have the time to google answers. This Nyx product for me cuts out a lot of that time. I know exactly what it’s for, I know exactly where it goes,IMG_0441 and it also has natural skin-toned pigments to provide the coverage I need. My favourite thing about this concealer though has to be the inclusion of coconut oil. Now if you haven’t joined the coconut bandwagon, get on it now! Coconut products are a god send. And in this concealer it works to moisturise your skin further as well as working to prevent any caking.

Lastly from Nyx I bought the Studio Finishing Powder in Translucent. Now I don’t really have anything to compare this product to. Finishing Powder is not something which I have ever really used and to be honest I’m not sure I ever will use it religiously. However, I thought I would purchase this and see if it made a difference to my life. For only £8 I IMG_0437.JPGthought it would be worth a shot. If you look on the Boots website the description boasts that this is ‘a miracle in a jar’. Now I’m not sure I would completely agree with that, it is a big statement after all, but I do believe it set my foundation pretty well. Also the website claims that ‘it leaves your skin looking radiant and luminous’, this I definitely do not agree with. I felt as if I was left with a more matte finish than luminous. In fact, I think I prefer using Maybelline’s Super Stay 24hr Setting Spray (£6.99) when I am aiming for a radiant, luminous, even dewy look. Howver, i will continue using it when i am looking to create a matte base!

Next up are my Sleek Make-Up products. Sleek is said to be one of the fastest growing brands on the high street, and I can see why. I’ve been a fan of their products since I first found out about them a couple of years ago. I have always found their products to be highly pigmented and long lasting at a great price. What more could you want? So it was a no brainer that I would purchase some more of their products on this little shop. I have been on the lookout for some new brushes for a while now. Again, I’m not somebody who lovesIMG_0433 the idea of spending a lot of money. I am therefore quick to jump in and try out some of the cheaper alternatives available. So when I came across Sleek’s 7 Piece Brush Set for only £12.99 I became extremely intrigued. I mean come on, 7 brushes for £12.99, is that even legal? It was an easy decision for me, I was going to try them. Now if you’re somebody who likes their brushes to be super soft, like I find The Real Techniques ones are, then maybe these aren’t for you. As I found on comparison they felt a lot more stereo-typically synthetic than the Techniques brushes I own. The foundation brush for example I found was quite hard so much so that I decided I wouldn’t even try it out for its intended purpose. (I ain’t wasting no foundation!) However not all the brushes hold such negativity. The four smaller brushes, named as being for eye shadow, eye contour, eyeliner/brow and lip are all extremely good for their money. They pick up products extremely well, and are brilliant at their jobs. I have even used one of these for applying contour and concealer. In my opinion it is definitely worth overlooking the idea of their being one or two bad brushes in the set as the rest are extremely good. Plus, they come in a little carry case, which is super handy.

IMG_0435I also purchased Sleek’s Cream Contour Kit in Light. Since I have been using contour products I have always veered more towards the powder palettes. However, after extensive research, as always, I decided I really wanted to give cream a go. I have had my eye on the Iconic Palettes for so long, but again as I have said a couple of times I hate spending the money. So naturally I decided to give a high street version a chance. I was struggling between purchasing this palette by Sleek or the Nyx Highlight & Contour Pro Palette. More than anything I think what swayed it for me was the price, Sleek charged £10.99 and Nyx charged £18.00. Working on a budget currently I decided I would see what Sleek, the cheaper of the two had to offer. Overall I think this palette is extremely good. It has a range of ‘light’ andIMG_0445.JPG ‘dark’ shades in order to achieve the best contour. (don’t worry if you don’t know where to put anything the kit comes with instructions) I’ve used this kit for a number of days now and I am really enjoying it. I feel I will contour using the cream versions of the contour kits for the near future. As I feel in Summer it’s nice to have a more luminous, dewy finish to your makeup. Whereas in Winter I am more drawn towards makeup looks that are more matte in appearance. The only negative I have about this palette, and it’s hardly the palettes fault, is that the ‘light’ version is too light if I was to be more tan. Therefore, I don’t feel it would achieve the look I would be after if I were to use it for a night out where I would more than likely be wearing fake tan.

IMG_0449Lastly from Sleek I purchased (and I say purchase loosely, it was actually free in a 3 for 2 offer) an i-Divine Mineral Based Eyeshadow Palette in ‘Enchanted Forest’. I have never actually bought any of the sleek eyeshadow palettes as I’m pretty basic in what shadow I wear. However, I thought it would be rude not to try something new since boots were doing the 3 for 2 offer. I have to say though; I am not disappointed. The colours are absolutely divine, the shadows are so pigmented, and they blend so well together. I’m just dying to find somewhere where I can create a look to try them out properly. As you can see from the swatches most of the colours are shimmery but a couple are matte.IMG_0447.JPG Therefore, it is a palette that would enable you to create some fantastic looks. So if all Sleek’s palettes are this good, for £8.99 I will definitely be purchasing some more!

So that is your lot! I hope this post opens your eyes to some great products because remember, we don’t have to go broke for beauty! Let me know if you have any other suggestions for me to try, I am always interested in trying out some new products!

Until next time…

x

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