2018 Reading Challenge, Book 34 – The Alchemist

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The irony of this damn book review taking me so damn long to write is that reading this book actually left me feeling kind of inspired.

This is one of those books that people always seem to put hype on and as such sometimes it is easy to be a little wary of it. What if it doesn’t live up to the hype and then you just have to awkwardly pretend that it does otherwise you risk ridiculing? Lucky for me this was not one of those books.

First of all the opening of this book is kind of genius and to be honest with you I am always going to be a fan of something that throws in a little bit of Greek mythology and then also kind of turn it on its head. I was in.

This book felt both big scale and then also just about people and the way that they interact with their life and the things that they want to achieve.

I tore through this book pretty quickly and it left me feeling so inspired afterwards. It was really a tale of working towards something that you want and was basically some kind of fable. Which to be honest at this moment in time I kind of needed.

I enjoyed the writing style. It was easy to read and had some great prose in it. Yes, sometimes it was a bit faux deep, but it felt in keeping with the book as a whole. And also some of the sentence themselves did kind of settle into some part of my psyche. I really needed to read some of these things it really put a fire under my ass.

It’s ultimately about getting to know yourself. It’s something that I think everyone should read at least once. It’s not life changing or anything (and sometimes people make it sound like it might be), but it does kind of make you feel some kind of way. It does remind of you of a few things and it does highlight that sometimes you just need to work really hard to get what you want and not be afraid of it.

Which is something I needed reminding of (which I know I have already implied, but there we go).

3/5 stars

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New Products

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So I was looking around in my beauty product life the other day (I was trying to figure out if I needed to replace any stuff etc) and I realised that over the past few months I have acquired a few more products that I didn’t have before (obviously). And well, I felt compelled to then talk about them a little bit. I’m kind of bored of talking about books right now (having said that book reviews are finishing out the week). Also this stuff is fun for me and I’ve also just bought some more stuff which means I will get a new one of these up at some point soon as well.

Better You Lotion – Magnesium is a huge help when it comes to muscle recovery. I’ve always known this, I take a magnesium supplement everyday and my protein powder has magnesium in it. However my hamstrings remain the tightest thing in the damn world and they need all the help they can get right now and well I shower after I work out and do all that I can to keep dry skin at bay. So this all seems like a match made in heaven. I will say that applying this is a bitch when I put it on freshly shaved and exfoliated legs (which is every Tuesday night), it tingles at the best of times (less so now that my skin is used to it) but on those days it tingles a lot. It leaves my skin feeling hydrated and honestly with repeat usage (I use it on average 5 times a week) it does make a difference to my recovery.

Better You Iron Spray – To be honest, I was trying to get free delivery and also was wary of the fact that I lack an iron supplement in my life but also kind of need one. This one is fast acting as it’s a spray form which I’m not mad about.

Full of Grace – This is a serum that I have always thought about using but just never bit the bullet and bought. And then I did. During the hottest period of time ever. Which may have affected the length of time that it lasted. It lasted a month and I had to keep it in the fridge just because it melted soooo much otherwise. I liked it. I never quite got the hang of just how much was necessary for a full face which didn’t leave my skin feeling either too dry or too greasy. I think I would go back to it because I liked the way that it made my skin feel, but I might not do it when it’s continually 32 degrees outside…

Noughty Intensive Care Leave-In Conditioner – I am a sucker for a leave-in. They are my life. They save my hair day in day out. I hate the way that this smells. It’s smells clinical and also I feel like I have to use a fair amount in order to get anything done with my hair. However I will keep buying it because it slots in nicely in my gym bag. For a short period of time my hair didn’t really see water for like 3 days a week (unless it was sweat) because I just never rinsed it through after a workout because my studio has shitty conditioner that feels like water and my hair never doesn’t have conditioner in it. And so for some reason I thought no water was a better option than no product…but for whatever reason that just was not feasible to do and so I threw in the only leave in that is transportable, which is this one. And it has been a life saver. So this is where that lives now. In my gym bag.

Trevor Sorbie Shampoo – I have no loyalty to shampoo, I think I’ve said this before. I shop around I do not care. As long as it’s sulphate free I’m there. I hate the way this smells (there is a trend here) but it is making a difference to the way that my hair and curl pattern operates. I mean I probably won’t buy it again but that’s just because I ain’t loyal.

Black Castor Oil/Shea Butter Shampoo and Conditioner – Okay, this is Superdrug own brand and also a freebie because I was buying so many other hair care products. I didn’t read the ingredients. See above where I said if it’s sulphate free I’m there? Yeah this shampoo is not. Which I think is weird of Superdrug as it’s in the black haircare section and sulphates are not our friends. It’s annoying because I actually kind of like the combo. My hair felt good after I used them both. One week. Then the following week it did me dirty and dried my hair out as sulphates in shampoos are prone to do. The conditioner I can get on board with. The shampoo is a no.

Vitamin E Eye Cream – I’ll speak below about how much my under eyes are hating me but I finally injected an eye cream into my life and I love the Superdrug Vitamin E range so much for other things that this felt like a safe bet. Is it making a difference? Who the hell knows, but I’m gonna keep it up.

Under Eye Masks – Look, my under eyes are suffering right now and they are getting puffy as hell from lack of decent sleep or some shit. I don’t know, they are bad, I am looking for help wherever I can right now. Both of the ones that I have used are Garnier. This one and this one. I hated the full around the eye mask. It just felt oddly restricting and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t mind the under eye one. That felt soothing and hydrating and I enjoyed using it and might use it again (there are these that I am also eyeing up right now…caffeine, jelly, under eyes. Sign me the hell up.)

Tea Tree Toner – This is from Lush, I was in there and I was buying Full of Grace so I just thought why the hell not. Also I get bored of toners so easily and mine last so long because I buy massive ones that I only use once a day. Plus, tea tree is good for your complexion and so I subbed it in for my aloe one. I’m getting bored of it though, so am kind of glad that I’m reaching the end of it. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good and it does help soothe my skin in the morning, but yeah. I’m just easily bored with toners.

L’Occtaine Overnight Reset Serum – I got this as a sample because I am all about trying as many serums as possible. I love the consistency of it. I also love how soft it makes my skin feel from the first application. I’m probably not going to buy it though, but it was a nice little injection.

Garnier Sheet Mask – I got on the sheet mask hype (Charcoal and Algae to be precise) because my die hard Lush fave ran out and well I was shopping around for a new Sunday night face mask. I used this. I hated it and am probably not going to get back on the sheet mask train. I like my clays and my exfoliating masks. I’ve found my lane, I’m gonna stay there.

Twisted Sista Leave In Conditioner – The one that I wanted was out of stock. I needed a leave in. I hate how this smells. So much. However, it is very moisturising and it gets the job done of just making sure that my hair stays hydrated when it’s in a bun. It’s thick and it gets the job done. I can almost forgive the scent.

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Two Thirds In

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What up, we are at it again with another little new year resolutions catch up because the past two months have sped all the way by. Anywho, let’s just get to it because the way I know deep in my soul that some of these now need to be changed/removed entirely.

1) Learn how to fuck with eyeshadow

I have not given up hope with this one yet, but like I’m holding off for as long as possible before the eyeshadow obsession really hits.

2) Learn how to do a full pull up

Hmmmmm, I reckon I could maybe pull at least one of these off if I tried. I just haven’t tried.

3) Be able to a full push up

Look I can do this. To the point where I feel like I can remove this from the list. I didn’t specify that I had to be able to multiple in one go (go me of January) because I can’t. I have weak wrists and really tight shoulders. I can manage like 5 max and 2 of them go deep and then I gotta reset and just drop my knees. But I can do a full push up. That’s it. This is a success. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna keep working on it to get those reps in. But on the whole, this is tick.

4) Read 70 books

I’m at 46. I’m just off track by a single book. This is still looking good.

5) Lift heavier

Remember that breakdown that I’ve done? Yeah, it’s all bullshit now because a new release arrived and it threw everything into chaos. So now, it is basically me just going with what my body can do and also challenging it when necessary, So my chest weight has gone up, as well as my bicep weight (although that’s messing with my right wrist so I might need to reassess this…). I am so close to actually being able to squat 20kg, so that’s coming. I’ve also gone up in deadlift weight and that’s gonna go up again soon, however it burns my forearms so much come the end of it that it is ridiculous. I do this twice in 72 hours now which means that one class always goes better than the other, however the difference that it has made in the composition of my body is actually kind of impressive. The two sessions a week was initially just randomly going to be a summer thing, but to be honest, I’m gonna keep doing it for as long as I feel. Weights are a game changer.

6) Eat more fruit and veg

My eating habits over this summer have been questionable. So I am going to get back on track as of next week. And the reason that it is going to be next week is because I am going to go back off whey because it has been wreaking havoc with my skin and stuff because I bought a shit ton of protein bars that were non-vegan and I need to finish them first, which will happen this week. I am doing myself a disservice tbh because a lot of my fave fruits have been in season recently and so I have been eating a lot of fruit and also more veg, but it’s just been counteracted with the fact that ice cream is really good and the only thing that would do when it was regularly 32 degrees.

7) Cook More

Hahahhahahahahahaha. No. Not happening. I might just accept that this will not happen and call it a day. I am cooking, but it’s still the same stuff that I have cooked before.

8) Finish the damn book

Okay, this resolution was actually about a different book, but that kind of has hit a wall that I can’t quite write myself out of right now, but a different idea presented itself to me that I am actually making some headway with that I can work with. So it is unlikely that I will finish it, but I will get some of the way through a first draft I hope…

9) Write for half an hour a day

And because I have been feeling inspired for something different I have actually been quite good at this recently. It’s not every day yet by any means, but it is a lot more than I used to. It’s becoming more of a habit than it was at the start of the year which I’m not mad about.

10) Get better organised

I feel like at this point I might also write this off. Because it’s just not going to happen in the way that I envision it is going to happen. I am not going to be the kind of person who actually uses a planner and organises my diary, I’m just not. And I’m fine with that. I am organised enough for me and to be honest that is all I need.

11) Get my Peak score to 800

Okay, I lost my streak and then my interest kind of fizzled out and then it just stopped. However, I am getting back to it this month. I want that streak back up. It’s still currently at 834 and I’m going for that 900 by the end of the year.

12) Meditate more

This is also kind of going in the same way as the above. I’m getting back into this as of this week. I’m going to make it a daily practice.

13) Save, save, save

There is money in my savings account. I am considering this progress. I’ve made a lot of changes that are feeding into this one and it’s currently baby steps, but whatever. That’s better than nothing.

14) Put more effort into blogging

Okay, I have found my new schedule is actually so much more manageable (she says after a week where I posted twice…). It has just alleviated so much pressure that I had put on myself. It also means that I have some time to myself to really work on things that I want to and also means that I can have some guilt free nights where I just do nothing more than lie on the sofa and watch various actress singing Defying Gravity

15) The Masters

Not happening. Removing it from the list. I have thought about it long and hard and it’s just not for me at this moment in time.

Right there we go, another check in done. And some removals from the list which means the next one of these will be a little bit shorter, but also means that I don’t have to worry about them and feel guilty about the fact that I’m not working on them. Also, this year has gone by so fast it’s kind of gross…Just me?

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 33 – When the Curtain Falls

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Back at it with the book reviews. For a book that I was supposed to review last week, but then YouTube took a hold of me and so I didn’t really create any new blog content. But I cannot put it off for any longer and so here we are.

This is the second book of Fletcher’s that I’ve read this year and as you may or may not have gathered from my previous reviews of her books I still don’t really know where I stand with her as an author.

Let’s just get straight to it.

Olive low key kind of drove me insane because she just came across really judgy a lot of the time. That was kind of all she had as a character. That and doubt. There wasn’t really much depth there. To either her or Oscar to be honest. And it was for that reason that it was really hard to be invested in their relationship at all. It felt a little like they just built up to them having sex and then the ‘relationship’ went tits up.

They had some cute moments don’t get me wrong, but then suddenly I was just supposed to care about them trying to make their relationship work and the fact that Oscar is kind of an idiot and was always going to kiss the one that was throwing herself him and not doing much else. I saw that one coming from a mile off and thought it would kind of maybe lead to something, but no. It did exactly what I thought it would and then didn’t do much else and ultimately I really did not care.

My main issue with this book was fact that the plot to it decided to kick in in the last fifty or so pages just caused me to care even less. I was not invested. It went from 0 to 100 real quick. And what the hell even happened to Doug? It’s like a light (or something) fell on him and then nothing ever really came of it? Also Doug was hardly in it, the impact felt was lacking. Because there was no real motive there…I’m somehow supposed to believe that olive got to know Walter quite well? They hardly spoke.

The other section of this story was better developed. I got an actual sense of who those characters were and I could actually get to grips with the stakes of their relationship. Hamish was a great villain because he was routed in something real and that was easy to get on board with. That whole arc actually felt fleshed out. The fact that  Fawn would feel like she was stuck and just needed a way out made sense and it made the ending of her story all the more tragic, even though you know it’s going to happen from the start. You felt her frustration and her anger at being trapped in this place and to be honest you can kind of see why she would view that as her only way out.

What didn’t make sense was how that affected the present. Them all haunting that theatre just kind of made no sense to me. It was never really explained at all. Especially every one outside of Fawn

Did they die there too or…?

I could rather sadly go on with all the things that I wasn’t a huge fan of but I’m gonna cycle around to some positives.

This was actually probably her best written book. I liked her writing style more than I have in the past. I think that’s because it was more of a ghost story than anything else and it felt less far fetched for some reason as a consequence, which I know sounds weird, but there you go.

I guess I should talk about the ending. I mean, it was an ending. It felt weirdly graphic and not at all in keeping with the rest of the book. And also I feel like the impact that would have psychologically on them was immense (can I just say I don’t expect her to address that, because that would make no sense, but that thought did cross my mind as I was reading it, my brain is an odd place to be what can I say). To be honest I felt like it could have kind of ended there. The epilogue didn’t really serve any kind of purpose other than to make it apparent that they stuck it out for the long haul. I mean I could have inferred that…?

I read this book quickly, like I said Fletcher’s writing style is easy to read and has developed over her books, but I couldn’t say I liked it all that much. I didn’t hate it. To be honest it might be my favourite of her’s thus far. But also I’ve come to accept that as much as I want to, I just cannot get on board with her novels. I kinda knew that earlier this year, but this just confirmed it to me. And I’m kinda sad about it. I wanted to love her, but she’s just not my kind of author.

3/5 stars

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The Playlist Book Tag

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Raise your hand if you’re surprised that I have another bookish related book tag going live today?

No hands raised? Yeah, that’s what I thought. This one combines two of my faves, books and music and I saw it here

One Direction: A book you would still love without one of the main characters

Honestly, I don’t think there are any…? I read a lot of first person narratives so I kind of only really know a lot of characters in accordance with what the narrator says/reveals about them and so I don’t really know if I would care enough independently of the narrator…

Busted: A book you didn’t expect to have a sequel

I was surprised to find out that Warm Bodies  had a sequel as that didn’t seem like something that needed to happen. I mean I’m gonna read it, but yeah, was surprised that it happened.

5 Seconds of Summer: A book that reminds you of summer

Currently the To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy gives me those vibes, just because I devoured the books and the film made me feel all warm and fuzzy and those are the feelings of summer I feel.

Adele: A book you love or you hate

I’m currently still loving all of Adam Silvera’s work, I mean it hurts my heart, but I love them all.

Taylor Swift: A guilty pleasure book

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I don’t have them. I read what I read.

Green Day: A book that bored you to sleep for a whole month

Do I have to say it? Do we all know what my answer is going to be? Have I mentioned how much of a slog I’ve found it before (many times)? It’s Moby Dick (obviously)

Coldplay: A book that makes you sad no matter how many times you read it

Okay, I am not a huge fan of re-reading books and so I don’t do it (I get stressed about the fact that I am not reading something new). However, even thinking about They Both Die at The End makes me feel sad.

The Glee Cast: A book that you’d like to be made into a musical

Okay, so I’m like a musical person, in that they tend to be the only thing that I ever go and see. And so when R and I went to see Cursed Child we kind of just forgot that it wasn’t going to be a musical even though there were many opportunities for it become one. So I feel like I would want Harry Potter to be a musical in some capacity.

Ed Sheeran: A book that was more emotionally heavy than you expected it to be

History is All You Left Me and More Happy Than Not both took me on rides and felt like a sucker punch to the gut. So thanks for that Adam Silvera.

Miley Cyrus: A book that you still don’t understand

I kind of still don’t get The Girl of Ink Stars. It just felt a little anti-climatic or something. I didn’t quite understand the hype, I think that was the main thing with it.

And there we have another book related tag post down.

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Autumn Reading

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Technically this title is bullshit because technically autumn hasn’t started yet because we’re still in the summer, but my summer reading list took me to August and well that is now nearly done and so here we are throwing this word around entirely too early.

Okay, I did a lot of accidental book buying in July/earlier this month. Me trying to avoid falling into a reading slump meant new and unowned to me apparently and so that was what I did. I bought a lot of books. I am now on a book buying ban, which should be kinda easy because I have so many damn books on pre-order (and they all seem to come out in the same 2 weeks in October, so that will be interesting). I don’t really know how this is gonna work though because looking at the 2018 Reading Challenge shelf there are a lot of books on there that I don’t actually own yet and kind of will need to buy at some point and then also whenever I go on a book buying ban the urge to buy books becomes too much and I end up binge buying. I don’t know, for now this list will be comprised of books that I actually own.

1) The Shadow of the Wind – Yes, this was on my summer list, no I didn’t read it. Yes, it will actually happen this time.

2) What If It’s Us – Technically this is not in my possession yet because it is due to be published in October. It’s one of the pre-ordered books that will make itself known in October.

3) A Darker Shade of Magic – I’m pumped to read this book. I’m just really excited to finally read some V.E Schwab.

4) Vicious– This is not an official book on the list. However I seem to be loving the bonus books right now and I do actually own this because I impulse bought it earlier this year due to the cover (I do judge them by that what I can say, I’m a sucker for a real pretty book).

5) Vengeful – This is also a pre-order due to arrive into my life in September and also the sequel to Vicious, because we all know that I needed yet another series in my life.

6) Godsgrave – Knowing that the final book of this series is not due until next year has made the prospect of reading this more appealing because I’m no longer holding out for the finale

7) Fight Club – Again, was supposed to read this over the summer, but I didn’t. So now I will.

8) London Fields – I still think I am putting off reading this because it hits wayyyy too close to home as I literally spend 40 hours a week in this area and I’m worried it might change my perception of it.

9) The Little Friend – This book is a beast and it will also complete the Donna Tartt bibliography for me.

10) The Uncommon Type – Let’s see what Tom Hanks to offer as a writer.

11) City of Ghosts – And yet another VE Schwab book makes the list. It is also currently already in my life and to be honest I may have already read it by the time that this posts and as I write it I’m just waiting for it to be delivered.

So that’s an extra 8 books from my actual list on here and then some extra VE Schwab thrown in for good measure. Books that are also going to make an appearance in my life in October are: Bridge of Clay,, Markus Zusak Runaways: Volume 2, Rainbow Rowell, to make monsters out of girls, amanda lovelace and This Will Only Hurt a Little, Busy Philips. I am also on holiday for like 2 weeks, one of which I think will be spent on the coast, so in theory this is a good time to get some reading done.

I’m gonna address all the books that I have still on the official shelf at some point, there may need to be another cull. There may not be. I don’t know. There are some there that I do actually really wanna read (most of the autobiographical ones tbh) but there are others that honestly I can take or leave.

I just need to get to 70.

Parentheses count: 3. See you on Monday!

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 32 – Lost Boy

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This book almost sent me into a reading slump, it was the book that prompted all the bonus books that you have seen the past few days. Something about this book just felt really slow and I just couldn’t get on board with it. Maybe it was because they were a group of boys who didn’t have to follow any rules, it felt very Lord of the Flies and we all know how I felt about that one.

Eventually I found the dynamic between Peter and Jamie fascinating, especially as the book progressed and the relationship between them got tested and strained. What I liked about the group of boys was that there were clear roles that each one had. Jamie was very clearly the mother of the group and that ended up being to his detriment in the end.

This book really started to pick up during the Sally part to be honest. Which was kind of far into the book all things considered. But once it picked up it really hit the ground running. And so I avoided falling into the reading slump.

I’ve always kind of thought that the idea of Peter Pan was a little weird and kinda sad and this book really capitalised on that. Especially in the last 50 or so pages, the reveal of his part in getting Jamie to the Other Place (which made the opening pages made sense, it was a long game though) and the way that he managed to maintain his eternal youth. It really compounded the twisted nature of Peter and come the end I came to like that. He became this completely complex character that was a contrast between childish and being completely in control. The more the book progressed the more evident that contrast became.

This book inverted the idea of believe and what it means. Usually Tinkerbell needs it to live but in this the boys need to believe in Peter in order to stay boys. I loved that fact. And I also liked the way that the boys realised that as they prepared for their showdown with Peter. I also found the affects that their lack of belief in Peter and the way that it ages them a really interesting element of the book.

I just really loved how delightfully twisted Peter was in the end. It just felt like the kind of thing that someone so young who had all that power would do. It came from a place of truth and I liked that although the reader always kinda knew that Peter was hella shady the extent of it was only truly realised as it was revealed to Jamie. The way that Peter twisted things that were kind of specific to Jamie, using his trade mark against him. Making Jamie watch on a loop as Peter finally decides to let people leave which was the very thing that Jamie kind of desperately craved for others (specifically Charlie). The way that it all led to that final line which was just so definitive and so brilliant.

This book is brutal. It’s violent and at times it’s a lot. There were some aspects that didn’t necessarily seem to make much sense to me (the thing with all the Many-Eyed, I’m still not really sure what the hell they are supposed to be). And yeah, I found it kind of slow for a while but once it got going it really had me hooked and I turned out to quite like this book. Also, for some reason I didn’t see the ending coming, but as it started to happen I realised that it was the only way that this story could end.

3/5 stars

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