July Favourites.

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” – Peter Golkin.

July favouritesIt’s the end of the month again and that means July Favourites. It was a struggle to remember what I enjoyed this month because it has flown by so quickly that I barely remember anything. According to my diary I went shopping a couple of times, but I can barely recall it actually happening. Nevertheless, a few items have surfaced to my memory throughout today as well as some old finds that I have found myself enjoying once again.

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Rome.

“Veni, vidi, vici.” (I came, I saw, I conquered.) – Gaius Julius Caesar.

Anyone who has been following my blog recently will know that this time last week I was in Rome with my dad. In fact, we were rather lucky as our plane touched down half an hour earlier than expected. We were then even luckier when our suitcases were the first to be released at baggage claim, something which has never happened to us before. From the airport we found our way to our hotel (I didn’t take any photos because it was just your average hotel and it is definitely the last thing you are going to focus on if you’re going to Rome).

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Black and White Nail Art.

“Words dazzle and deceive because they are mimed by the face. But black words on a white page are the soul laid bare.” – Guy de Maupassant.

Sometimes no one can deny the allure of black and white nails, I certainly cannot. In fact, the first time I had my nails professionally done with gels I succumbed to the classic black and white nail art. However, these nails I am going to share with you are all going to be painted by myself.

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Sunshine Blogger Award.

Last week I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Every Word You Say. Unfortunately, it has taken me a little while to get around to doing this since I have been in Rome, but I’m here now.

Thank you so much to Every Word You Say. Everyone please check out her blog, her posts are truly worth a read.

UPDATE: I have also been nominated for this award by the lovely Miss Ky. Thank you so much for this nomination and similar to Every Word You Say, I recommend having a look at Miss Ky’s blog.

The rules:

  • Thank the people/person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions from your nominators.
  • Nominate eleven other bloggers and give them eleven questions.

The questions from Every Word You Say:

1. If you could live your life again, would you change anything?

If you had asked me this two years ago I would have responded saying that I wish I had chosen different courses to take during my first year of college because I absolutely hated it. However, this year I realised that I do not regret it because one of my best friends now I met through one of those courses as well as other people I became really great friends with, even if it was only for the duration of college. Now, when I look back, I may see that I have gone through bad times, but I feel like I came out a better person because of it and while I still struggle in some aspects, I find that it makes me so much more appreciative and grateful for all of the goods things in life.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Kahlil Gibran

2. What’s your biggest achievement?

I am not entirely sure. Academically, it would be an A* in a biology GCSE exam, especially since in school I was a B average student. I find that achievements are difficult to classify as big or small sometimes because they can be so diverse though when I think achievement, my first thought just jumps to educational achievement, hence that’s my first answer.

I also feel like I have achieved a lot socially. Right now I have three incredible best friends as well as other friends who I love and am so grateful for. However, it wasn’t always like this. When I was sixteen, my best friend of twelve years and I fell out and to an extent it was for the better as I always felt like she was judging me for everything I did and it made me feel like I was a bit of an outsider and a freak. I felt like I couldn’t truly be myself. Less than a month later I started college and I had been given the push I needed to get certain people out of my life. That September I was in a friendship group where I felt invisible. Barely anyone seemed to talk to me and when I tried to contribute to conversations, because the group was so big, my shy, quiet voice, couldn’t be heard which only made me feel worse. As a result, by October I was a part of a completely new friendship group and while I didn’t enjoy my courses fully, I did enjoy my free periods with my friends who I had things in common with. This was a big achievement for me because I had never been apart of a friendship group before where I fully felt included and wanted and before I attended college I would never have had the courage to seek one out as I have always been one to stay in my comfort zone, sticking to what I’m familiar with and used to.

3. What’s your biggest fear?

This is a difficult one because, honestly, I am afraid of a lot of things. I am terrified of almost anything with a mind of its own, but especially spiders and wasps. I suppose I’m not exactly terrified of people, but I am very paranoid and cautious. The weekend before last I had to get a taxi from my friends house to my own by myself, it was only a five to ten minute drive, but I was very on edge. I was gripping my phone as if my life depended on it, almost aggressively texting my friend so that I didn’t feel alone. Fortunately, she was a fast replier. I even jumped out of the taxi at the earliest possible moment, even though it meant walking an extra ten minutes when my feet were very sore and even then I was on the phone to my best friend.

4. When was your last “first time”? (As in when was the last time you tried something new?)

Well, last week was my first time to Italy! And it was my first holiday just me and my dad as in the past I had only ever been away with my mum, dad and brother.

5. If your life was a movie/book, what would the title be?

To be honest, I would probably call it drifting lexi and it would most likely be a book.

6. Do you have a secret talent?

No, I don’t think so. Some people would say my nail art, but I don’t know. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

7. If you could know one fact/statistic about everyone you met, what would that fact/statistic be?

I would probably want to know what their favourite TV show or book was. Whenever I meet people I always worry about it being awkward and having nothing to say. This means that if I knew what they liked we could hopefully discuss it.

8. What’s your favourite movie?

Yikes! This is a tricky one. Do I go Disney? Musical? Harry Potter? The possibilities are endless! I am going to go for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I have watched this movie probably more times than any other movie. When I first bought it I watched it about four times in the first week. It is also the only one of two movies that has ever actually made me cry (the other being Moulin Rouge). Furthermore, this movie has some of my favourite actors: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Nina Dobrev. Also, I must mention that I also loved the book.

9. What’s your favourite piece of clothing you own?

Without a doubt, my favourite piece of clothing is my blue checked shirt. I just love this shirt so much. I was hoping to post a photo of it, but it is in the wash (it’s always in the wash as I wear it as much as possible).

10. If you could have a fictional character as a friend, who would you have?

As a proud Ravenclaw, part of me wants to say Luna Lovegood, and while I agree we would make good friends, I don’t think we’d click as much as with other characters, such as Hermione who is a good friend and loves books. However, I also think that Fred and George Weasley would make spectacular friends because you would always be in fits of laughter, there would never be a dull moment around those two, plus they’re brave and loyal.

11. What was the last dream (or nightmare) you had about?

Be prepared, this is going to be a little long…

I rarely remember my dreams, but the last one I remember having is from two weeks ago. This dream was very strange, I went to my grandparents house (which didn’t look like my grandparents house at all) with my family and my best friend (this best friend often flickered from my two best friends Megan and Sophie).

We all went for a walk along a path somewhere surrounded by trees. My parents had gone ahead (for some reason they were still together) and my brother, my best friend in Sophie form and I encountered a wolf with a black and sparkly coat of fur. My brother and Sophie turned around to leave and I stroked the wolf and a round pearl/diamond-like stone fell into my hand. I told the wolf to leave, he did, and I pocketed the stone. We then arrived back at the house and like a horror movie there was something banging on the doors and Sophie and I were really scared and some dark ghostlike figures surrounded us. I put my hand into my pocket and grasped the stone wishing for help and the wolf from before crashed through the window (on the second floor) and scared the ghosts away.

Next thing I know my best friend, Megan, and I are walking into a shop with black walls covered in art. It was a tattoo parlour, but there were also bits of jewellery on stands and I was admiring the rings. Megan wandered ahead of me and I was thinking of getting a tattoo. I went to go and catch up with her and she had just had one on her foot and the guy who did it took a photo of it, then, for some bizarre reason, he asked me if he could take photos of my feet. Still in the tattoo parlour, the image jumped to the front of the shop where everyone who worked there as well as Megan, myself and other customers (one of which was a childhood friend I used to live by) were around the till. All of us customers were in a queue which we all kept rejoining as at the till, the tattoo artists were giving out Indian food. I am not entirely sure what happened after I finished a naan bread dipped in curry sauce, but I remember that there had been another appearance from the wolf and then I woke up oddly feeling full as if I had just eaten a curry in real life.

If anyone has any idea as to what that dream could possibly mean I would be very interested to know as it was so freaky.

Now, let’s move away from the weirdness so that I can Miss Ky’s questions and then reveal the bloggers I nominate for the award.

The questions from Miss Ky:

What is your favourite movie?

I don’t exactly have a favourite movie, but the one I have watched the most is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I was absolutely obsessed with it when it was first released.

Which one: Tent or Camper?

Honestly, neither. I much prefer the indoors, by which I mean the comfort of my bedroom.

Most embarrassing moment?

My gosh, I’ve been embarrassed so many times, but I cannot recall the worst time. I never fail to get embarrassed if I have to speak during class, but that’s definitely not the worst I’ve had it. Perhaps the experience was so traumatic that I’ve erased it from my mind.

What would you tell younger self?

I would tell my younger self never to be afraid to tell my mum how I feel and what I think. If I had been honest from the start, I feel like I could have avoided a lot of pain and anger over the past four years.

What are your future plans?

This question could not be asked at a better time because last night my mum and I sat down and tried to sort some things out. At this moment, my future plans involve taking a nail course so that hopefully in a few months I’ll be qualified to do people’s nails and perhaps work in a salon. Then I would like to do some travelling and depending on how my career in nails goes, I may take a course to do with psychology/counselling.

Favourite place to go?

A book shop, perhaps? Somewhere Harry Potter related?

Favourite person in the world?

My mum. I don’t think this needs any kind of justification.

Would you rather: have no internet or no cell phone?

No phone. Messaging works just as well as texting! Plus you can make calls through Skype and Facebook by using a tablet.

If you could do anything right now what would it be?

Hop on a plane and go travelling; I’d probably start in Paris.

What is your ideal date night?

Pizza is the way to my heart, so a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant would be perfect.

What is some advice you would give to a little kid who looks up to you?

This is difficult because I don’t really know many people more than two years younger than me, except for a five month year old baby. That and the fact that I am an extremely pessimistic person, so I would probably have to steal some advice from someone else.

The bloggers:

Your questions:

1. Have you ever been to a concert, if so which was your first?

2. What was the last thing you watched on TV?

3. Name three things which make you happy.

4. What is your favourite thing about summer?

5. Spots or stripes?

6. What are you currently reading?

7. What movie are you next looking forward to being released?

8. Do you wear jewellery of any kind?

9. For how long have you been blogging?

10. What is your favourite fizzy/soft drink?

11. How many languages can you speak? What are they?

I hope you all enjoy answering the questions and thank you again to Every Word You Say and Miss Ky for this nomination.

– Lauren

I’m Home.

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” – Anna Quindlen.

As mentioned in a previous post entitled Holiday, I have been in Rome since Thursday. That is, until this morning. I had a wonderful time in Rome, but it has caused a slight disruption to this blog which I had been trying to avoid.

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July Book Haul.

“People who are strangers to liquor are incapable of talking about literature.” – Mo Yan.

Book haul 10.7.15By the end of the month I have usually bought many books. As a result of this, I have decided that at the end of every month from now on I am going to do a big book haul post in which I will show you all of the books I have bought within the month.

I have never been one to buy in bulk loads all at once. Instead I buy one or two at a time throughout the month, sometimes once or twice a week. In the first two weeks of July I bought four new books:

  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
  • Clariel by Garth Nix.
  • Dream a little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher.
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.

the girl on the trainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins:

“You don’t know her. But she knows you.”

This book was only published this year and from the second I set my sights on it in Waterstones when it was first released I knew I wanted it. I finally bought it at the beginning of the month and can’t wait to read it; however, I have so many books I want to read and have planned for this summer that for the time being this book is low priority.

The book is a psychological thriller which is honestly one of my favourite genres because I love the experience of reading them. I love it when you hit the climax in a book and you physically cannot tear your eyes away and you are reading the words so fast to uncover what is happening that it’s as if you’re skim reading even though you are taking in every. Single. Word.

Here is the synopsis of The Girl on the Train, taken from Goodreads:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

clarielClariel by Garth Nix:

This is Nix’s latest release and it is a prequel to his Abhorsen trilogy. I have not yet read all of the the books in this series (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen), but I am hoping to buy them all soon to read first. I only bought this book first because it was apart of the “buy one get one half price” offer in Waterstones. Below is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

dream a little dreamDream a little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher:

This is the third book by Giovanna Fletcher. I have read Billy and Me and loved it, so I look forward to reading this book. Unlike the previous two books in this haul, this is a romance novel (it’s good to have a little variety, right?) so it’ll be a nice way to mix things up a bit. The Goodreads synopsis says:

Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she’s been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it’s really okay. She’s happy (ish).

But it’s not surprising that when Sarah starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to look forward to falling asleep every night. Reality isn’t nearly as exciting. That is until her dream-stranger makes an unexpected real-life appearance, leaving Sarah questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Because no one ever really finds the person of their dreams… do they?

red queenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard:

“Power is a dangerous game.”

This book is one in which I was intrigued by the cover with the crown and the dripping blood. Reading the blurb, the division of a world into “Red” and “Silver” reminded me slightly of Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, a book I had read when I was younger. Reading on I noticed that this book is very different, but that slight similarity made me think that it’s something I would enjoy. Plus, this is a fantasy, young adult book so I thought that this book would be ideal for me. Furthermore, this is a book I have seen other people discussing and enjoying.

The synopsis on Goodreads says:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Book haul 13.7.15At the beginning of the third week of July I bought two more books (hey, they were buy one get one half price!):

  • You’re the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher.
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

you're the one that I wantYou’re the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher:

I am so happy to finally own this book. Despite it being a new purchase I think I shall have to bump it up in my reading list to ensure that I read it before Dream a little Dream. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Goodreads synopsis:

Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob – the man she’s about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben – best man and the best friend any two people ever had.

And that’s the problem.

Because if it wasn’t Rob waiting for her at the altar, there’s a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?

Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it…

the scarlet letterThe Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne:

This book is one of those classics which I have not yet read and as a result fully intend to read. I found it in Waterstones and fell in love with this cover. Usually, I try and get covers closest to the first edition of the book, but I really liked this one and knew I had to have it.

However, I do believe that this is a new edition which has been published. I couldn’t find the exact edition on Goodreads so I did add my own as I like having the covers match up. Here is the blurb:

Having been found guilty of adultery, Hester Prynne is forced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter “A” as a punishment for her sin. While her vengeful husband embarks on a quest to discover the identity of her lover, she is left to face the consequences of her infidelity and find a place for herself and her illegitimate child in the hostile environment of seventeenth-century Puritan Boston.

sharp objectsThe fourth week of July I was starting to get low on money as I had to wait until the Friday in order to be be paid by Next, so my dad bought me a book for when we went on holiday to Rome:

  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn:

I am very much looking forward to being able to read this book after immensely enjoying Gone Girl. Also, I believe that this book is to be a movie and after having enjoyed the movie adaptation of Gone Girl I’m hoping this movie will be good too. Below is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When two girls are abducted and killed in Missouri, journalist Camille Preaker is sent back to her home town to report on the crimes. Long-haunted by a childhood tragedy and estranged from her mother for years, Camille suddenly finds herself installed once again in her family’s mansion, reacquainting herself with her distant mother and the half-sister she barely knows – a precocious 13-year-old who holds a disquieting grip on the town. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims – a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

These are all the books I have bought throughout July. Have you read any of them or are you interested in reading any of them? Let me know in the comments!

What books have you bought this month?

– Lauren

Holiday.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I am going on holiday. As a matter of fact, this post is scheduled to be posted at my regular time in the evening so by the time you are reading this I will already be on holiday.

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Tip Nail Art.

“”What’s wrong, little sis? You look upset.”
She could barely catch her breath. “Cracked…my…nail polish slapping your… worthless face. See?” She showed him her finger – just one of them.
“Cute” He snorted.” – Cassandra Clare.

Sometimes it is nice to do nails which focus on just one area: the tips. Most of these designs are rather simple to create and there’s even one at the end created using stickers.

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Review: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.

“That’s a bound book, a b-book, if you must. But it’s not a traditional book. It’ll never replace the good old-fashioned scroll!” – Rick Riordan.

the mark of athenaConsidering my previous two book reviews have been on the first two books in The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, it probably is not surprising that my third review is on the third book in the series.

I am getting through this series remarkably quickly and as soon as I am done I promise that I will finish John Dies at the End by David Wong, a review that I had intended to have up two weeks ago now, but other books got in the way.

The Mark of Athena starts exactly where The Son of Neptune ended, but from the perspective of those on the Greek ship. I had been greatly anticipating the reunion between Percy and Annabeth, especially when I had actually been expecting it at the end of the last book, but rather Riordan seemed to prefer the idea of leaving us with a cliffhanger. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the reunion in this book, giving us a joyful start.

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Review: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan.

“Percy slept like a medusa victim – which is to say, like a rock.” – Rick Riordan.the son of neptune

The Son of Neptune is the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series. On Monday I reviewed the first book here.

In this book we finally get to see Percy and what has happened to him whilst Jason has been with the Greeks. I actually enjoyed this book more than the first book, though this may just be down to Percy’s presence in this book.

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