Things I’m Loving #4

Things I'm Loving 4

1. 30 Day Butt Lift Challenge – with a hen do, birthday and wedding coming up, I wanted to at least attempt some form of toning. These various 30-day challenges have been the subject of many a SWHH post, but it’s because they’re amazing. Easily doable, I find that I can always stick to it for the full duration and it actually produces the desired results. (NOTE: You may end up walking like John Wayne by Day 3 but hey, no pain no gain. Yes, that sentence just happened…)

2. Johnson’s Holiday Skin – again, with all of the events that are due to happen, I wanted to make a little bit of effort and make my legs appear to be the same colour as the rest of my body. I’m massively against fake tan as I’m ridiculously lazy, so thanks to this brilliant moisturiser, a gradual skin-coloured tan builds of its own accord.

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman – I received this book for Christmas after I went wild (yes, wild) in WHSmith. I read it in a day and a half as the story completely captivated me. I’ve bought the sequel Where She Went  and I’ve asked for the film for my birthday. It may aimed more at a YA audience, but I like to think I’m on the cusp of that category still…

4. Avon Truly Radiant – again, my body is a variety of different colours so to help in making myself just the one shade, I’ve been turning to this Avon beauty. It’s a tinted moisturiser , but one that actually produces a good colour and coverage, especially as we edge ever closer to sunnier climes. Being an Avon lady has its perks!

5. Momma Keeling – okay, she may not be too happy about being referred to as a ‘thing’ that I’m loving, but the fact that she’s got a mention should be more than suffice. It was of course Mother’s Day on Sunday, so an honourable shout out to the lady that gave me life had to happen. Thanks Mum!

6. Statement necklaces – my fashion sense (or lack there of) leaves a lot to be desired. But, I have found a deep love for statement necklaces (or ‘gypsy gold’ as the boyf. likes to call them). My collection is quite substantial and I’ve found that they can actually make an outfit appear different depending on which one I opt for. They also help in making me pass for a slightly fashionable person, woop!

7. Rose gold shoes – or just rose gold anything. I have an affinity for the pinky-toned metal; watches, earrings and now shoes. The beauts pictured are from Topshop, although the pair I purchased were extremely similar from Sole Trader, and were a bargain at £10 *drool*

– love Stef x

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Christmas 2014: The presents loot

Despite not having a clue what I wanted for Christmas, Santa clearly decided to put me on the nice list and rewarded me with lots of wonderful pressies.

So here’s what I unwrapped on Christmas Day (and just for the boyf. because I know he’s desperate for me to do this: #spoiltprincess #boydonegood)

2014 Christmas Loot

 

Clean Bandit Vinyl // Crosley Executive Record Player // Links of London Rose Gold & Diamond Studs // Lush Snow Fairy // Lush The Art of Bathing // Dorothy Perkins Blue Twist Knit Jumper // River Island Pointed Polka Dots Flats // River Island Pink Printed Shift Dress // River Island Black Leather Biker Jacket // Breville Vanilla Cream Hand Blender // Ghost Deep Night // Looking for Alaska // Gone Girl // Cheryl Storm Flower // Dorothy Perkins Black Knee High Riding Boots // Breville Vanilla Cream Hand Mixer // Babyliss Turbo Dry 2000 // Hunter Fuchsia Wellie Socks // Where She Went // The Historian // George Black Patent Satchel //

What did Santa bring you?

– love Stef x

Zoella & the ghostwriter – well duhh…

Girl Online

So it has emerged that revered blogger and YouTube star, Zoella (real name Zoe Sugg) didn’t exactly write her debut novel, Girl Online.

Well duhhh…

Not to sound awful, but it was highly unlikely that the 24-year-old would have ever put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and write a novel.

Why? Well because she’s not a writer. Too often people assume that anyone can write – and in fairness, you’d think it would be true. But it’s not – as a trained writer, I know this.

Throughout most of my career, everyone has always thought that they can do my job.

Whether it was a design team who would spend creative meetings trying to come up with a catchy tagline even though us writers were sat right there, or people in completely different industries who think I have the easiest job in the world because I ‘write words’ – let me tell ya, it ain’t that easy.

Zoella was always going to have a ghostwriter because if anything, it was more about the brand of ‘Zoella’ that the book publishers cared about – they knew she wasn’t a writer. Reading her blog is proof of that – that isn’t a mean comment by the way, I actually like Zoella quite a lot.

Do I agree that she’s released a book? Not really.

Especially given that it has broken records over the likes of J.K Rowling – this is where I think this whole thing has lost integrity. The Harry Potter author is a literary great, Zoella is not.

Bloggers in general irk me for this kind of thing, although I suppose it should be the companies who make them the face of things that are really the problem.

Myself and my fellow Journalism graduates worked tirelessly to try and break into the industry – we could write, we’d been trained to hone those skills and we had the necessary qualifications regarding the law etc. to prove it.

Did we get magazine columns? No. But several bloggers have, and it isn’t right. If a fashion blogger has an amazing eye – give them their own fashion collaboration, don’t give them a column.

Same with the bloggers who are now creeping onto the red carpet to interview people – did you earn that broadcasting position?

This sounds like a bit of a rant, and it has turned into one (sorry).

There are very talented bloggers out there who are experts in their field – Sam and Nic from Pixiwoo are incredible (and credible) make-up artists. Bringing out a range of brushes was a perfect idea. Much like Tanya Burr and her cosmetic line, and the same for Zoella with her bath and body range.

But writing books? No. Ditto being plonked in the Band Aid 30 line-up. And presenting on Radio One.

It makes a mockery of the people who have worked hard to achieve their ambitions, trained and interned, and worked jobs that are bottom of the ladder all to try and simply do what they’re skilled at.

The publishers have struck gold putting Zoella’s name on a book, but now she faces a backlash that isn’t deserved – it should have been common sense to everyone that a ghostwriter will have been used.

Where this whole thing will go next, I don’t know.

My advice would be to stick to what you know – that way nobody can turn on you for something that was always going to be obvious.

– love Stef x

Books, books, books

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

Apart from shoes and lipsticks, one thing I’m addicted to buying and hoarding is books. To me, education, music and books are the three most important things you can give to a child, and I’m glad Momma Keeling and Big Les passed their bookworm tendencies onto me.

Carla is currently recounting her top reads, so I thought I’d give you mine. Mainly because I’m part way through High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and it’s fast becoming one of my favourites, and because I’m a bit of a blog post sheep (baaa).

So, without further ado, here are my most loved (and re-read) books, in no particular order:

Anybody Out There FINALAnybody Out There by Marian Keyes

Hilarious, heart-breaking and life-affirming. That’s how this book is described and it’s pretty on the money. Marian Keyes is an amazing writer and the Walsh family novels are truly funny (Helen is a pisser, for want of a better word). You’ll laugh, cry and never see the plot twist coming.

Best quote: “Calm down? My daughter’s getting married today even if it isn’t in a church and one of you five bitches has stolen my Multiple Orgasm. It’s like the time you stole all my combs,” – this was an often-repeated resentment – “and I was going to mass because it was a holy day of obligation and I had to comb my hair with a fork.”

The Dating Detox by Gemma BurgessThe Dating Detox FINAL

This book got me through my daily commute to work and made me look like a complete loon when I laughed out loud on the bus. I want Gemma Burgess to be my best mate – she’s hilarious and makes the characters she’s created seem exceptionally real.

Best quote: “Do you know how to open a coconut?” “’Open’ a coconut?’” I repeat. “I’m making a tropical punch.” “What a stunning idea,” I say. “Not original enough for you, my little creative bunny? Fine. Here’s a twist for you: when someone drinks it, you have to hit them in the face. Get it? Tropical punch.”

The Nanny FINALThe Nanny by Melissa Nathan

The Nanny is a book I read every winter and a tradition I’ve kept up for nearly ten years. It’s a perfect, light-hearted story, but I always feel a little sad that the author, Melissa Nathan passed away in 2006.

Best quote: “Who’s got a face like a slapped arse then?’” came a sudden voice.  Jo turned to face John Saunders, who was loitering on the corner of the deserted village High Street. Being told your face resembled a slapped arse would be an insult from anyone, but coming from John Saunders, whose face appeared to be on inside out, it was enough to put Jo on quite a downer.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars FINAL

I was a little late to the party when it came to this book and I was apprehensive of reading it after seeing the fuss that was made. But the fuss is worth it – I read this book in a day and I can safely say I’ve never read anything quite like it. Everyone should read it.

Best quote: “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

High Fidelity FINALHigh Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Okay, this is an honourable mention as I’m still reading it – but I love it. It also has nothing to do with the fact that I’d quite like to be John Cusack (who appears in the film). It’s written in a way that suits me to a tee, and although the movie differs in part to the book, both are incredible.

Best quote: “I’m very good at the past. It’s the present I can’t understand.”

RIP Sue Townsend

Yesterday the literary world lost a true great. The wonderful Sue Townsend passed away aged 68, and it’s safe to say generations of book lovers will be mourning – and rightly so.

The diaries of Adrian Mole have been around for more than 30 years since the first book – The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4was published in 1982.

Adrian Mole

I discovered Adrian Mole when I was about ten years old and have read the entire series several times over – I even had the 2001 television series with Stephen Mangan and Helen Baxendale as Adrian and Pandora on VHS.

Adrian Mole is one of the greatest characters ever created and it will be with a heavy heart the next time I re-read those well-loved diaries.

RIP Sue Townsend.

Sue Townsend

– love Stef x

 

Books Everybody Should Read #2: The Bell Jar

Part two on my ‘must read’ list is this absolutely compelling book by Sylvia Plath.

the bell jar by sylvia plathNow, I’m not trying to sound smart, or even look smart, the only reason I wanted to read this book is because Julia Stiles’ character in 10 Things I Hate About You is seen reading it in the first few minutes of the film – it really does boil down to that. And the fact I was unemployed for two months and resorted to joining the local library…

As the only novel ever published by the writer and poet, I really didn’t know what to expect.

I found this to be one hell of a read – the story is of one woman’s fall into total alienation from herself, society and the world and is based on Plath’s spiral into depression.

The semi-autobiographical story is intensely emotional and nothing short of a beautiful read.

The story grabbed me right from the beginning – the protagonist, Esther Greenwood is interning at a major fashion magazine in New York City, and seems relatively normal.

Issues that even the generation of today can relate to, such as birth control, sexual experiences, and sexual harassment, are explored in the opening chapters. Then we spiral into a deep depression with her as she loses her way when she is rejected for a prestigious writing school. She becomes almost tormented by the idea of death, believing that to die is to be free.

There is just a tiny part, in Chapter Ten, where Esther decides to write a novel that I think is the best way for any new readers to get a small insight in to the dark mind of a depressed soul.

“My heroine would be myself, only in disguise. She would be called Elaine. Elaine. I counted the letters on my fingers. There were six letters in Esther, too. It seemed a lucky thing.”

I can’t help but wonder if this is how she felt when writing the novel.  From what I can gather from research, Plath successfully ended her life only a month after The Bell Jar was released, after multiple suicide attempts, in 1963.

Fifty one years later her book is one that is highly acclaimed in American Literature, and rightly so.

Don’t go in to reading this book with a closed mind, as a young female I loved it. Though it is quite heavy reading, so I probably wouldn’t take it to the beach.

Have you read this book? Let us know what you think.

– love Carla x

Books Everybody Should Read #1: Kane and Abel

We all have a book that we just love. 

Being an avid reader of girly chick-lit, my shelves are full of the sort of books you buy in a panic from Asda, before you go on a beach holiday when realise you just don’t have enough magazines for all that sunbathing.

But sometimes, I go for something a little more ‘out there’ and move out of my comfort zone – all in the name of great literature.

For me I don’t have just one favourite book, I have five. So I thought I would share them with you, and I challenge you to not love them.

So part one of my favourite reads is this little beauty:

jeffrey archer kane and abel1. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer

In a word, this book is brilliant. I don’t know how else I can stress to you how literally brilliant it is.

I was given it by my big sis, who recommended I give it a go, and I am SO glad I did.

This is a long book, to the tune of 656 pages. I finished it in four days, at 3am actually – I just couldn’t put it down, it took over my life completely.

I read this at a time when I didn’t have a car and the bus to college was an hour-long ride – I was so engrossed I missed my stop.

I went to bed early to read it, and the night – well morning – I finished it, I had been in bed for six hours, and when I finished the last page, my life felt empty (I had only started it four days before…).

The story follows the lives of two men who live worlds apart, and have nothing in common with each other other than their date of birth – April 18, 1906.

One was brought up in Boston’s upper class world, the other a Pole born to extreme poverty. Their world’s are polar opposites in every way – one’s father dies in the Titanic disaster, the other’s step-father dies at the hands of Russian soldiers as WWI breaks out.

The stories of both men unfold in twists and turns that are never boring, and keep you hooked – it’s a very hard book to put down.

Their two world’s collide in a struggle of ambition, power and ruthlessness in the dream to build an empire, fuelled by the all consuming hatred they have for each other.

The book stems over 60 years and sees three generations as they fight through war, marriage, fortune, and disaster.

Kane and Abel’s battle for success is a battle that only one man can have, and through fate they manage to save and then destroy each other.

I found it a beautiful and compelling read, and one that everyone should have on their bookshelf.

“She only stopped screaming when she died. It was then that he started to scream. The young boy who was hunting rabbits in the forest was not sure whether it was the woman’s last cry or the child’s first that alerted his youthful ears. He turned suddenly, sensing the possible danger, his eyes searching for an animal that was so obviously in pain.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you think about it so get in touch!

– love Carla x