Book Haul

Saturday, 26 November 2016

With the end of my Goodreads reading challenge looming I’ve been doing my best to somehow read the last 12 books – setting a challenge of 25 books with a few months left of the year was a little too ambitious. Annoyingly, I somehow ran out of books to read so what do you do what that happens? You make a trip to Waterstones and accidentally buy more books than you originally intended to.

Waterstones Books

I’m not going to lie, I totally judge books by their covers so a few of these were purchased for that reason while others were purchased for the author. I’m really not fussy so long as I’m not staring at page 100 of Great Expectations wondering why the hell I started it in the first place. I’ve gone off track here, haven’t I? Ok, back to the book haul!

Hubert Selby Jr - Waiting Period: As Requiem for a Dream is my favourite book (and film) and because I enjoyed Last Exit to Brooklyn, I figured another Hubert Selby Jr book wouldn’t hurt.

Waiting Period is about a man who decides to kill himself but is thrown a lifeline when he can’t get a hold of a gun. He spends his second shot at life killing people he feels deserve nothing more. It seems like a happy book right?

Anthony Burgess - A Clockwork Orange: While I’ve never had any desire to watch Stanley Kubrick’s film adaption of A Clockwork Orange, I’ve always wanted to read the book. My other half made me buy this mainly so he could read it and based on his review, it was money well spent. The only issue I can see having when I read this is the language; I have no idea what half of the words mean.

Roald Dahl - Cruelty: I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl as a child so when I noticed his adult books chilling on a shelf, I had to buy one. Cruelty is a collection of short stories that depict human beings at their worst. It’s a relatively short book overall but it was rather endearing to read something by an author who played a huge role in my childhood.

Waterstones books

Dave Eggers - The Circle:
The woman in Waterstones told me I would never view social media the same again after reading The Circle and I think to a degree she’s right. The Circle focuses on a woman who has just landed a job at a prestigious and fast growing internet company. It all sounds delightful until it becomes apparent that ‘The Circle’ is basically a new age 1984. The film adaption of this book is in production and if my Googling is correct, Emma Watson will be playing the main character.

Guy Martin - Worms to Catch: I don’t keep my love of Guy Martin a secret and my excitement for his latest book wasn’t kept a secret either. As Guy Martin has basically stopped racing motorbikes professionally, there’s significantly fewer motorbikes and a lot more bicycles in this book. Worms to Catch focuses a lot of Guy Martin cycling from Canada to Mexico, his Wall of Death record attempt, his trips to Latvia and the latest season of Speed. I’m feeling very lazy while merely writing about what his book involves.

Jodi Picoult - Small Great Things: Small Great Things was purchased after I had a nosy at which books were nominated for Goodreads book awards. It’s described as the 21st century’s answer to One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (conveniently my other half just bought that book). Small Great Things is about prejudice and privilege and is something I am very excited about reading.

A few of these books will appear in my Books of November post that will appear on here at some point next month. Buying new books is always a sure-fire way to make me read so I feel like I should make another trip to Waterstones soon. It closes in around 30 minutes and it takes 25 minutes to get there, I wonder if I can make it...

Lush Don't Rain on my Parade Shower Gel Review

Monday, 21 November 2016

When it comes to Lush, I tend to order online as my town has not been blessed with an actual store yet – hint hint Lush. This usually creates issues when it comes to scents as, although I can imagine what something should smell like, the reality is often different. I can usually rely on Lush to be better than my expectations but once in a while, the product I’ve bought doesn’t come close to what my brain has assumed.

Lush Don't Rain on my Parade shower gel

Don’t Rain on my Parade shower gel ticked every box on my Lush requirement list; infused with vanilla, contains blueberry juice and it’s a pretty colour. It also lathers up really well even when I’m using a very small amount. It does exactly what I want a Lush shower gel to do but that creates a little issue for me.

Lush shower gels usually linger on the skin which I typically love but I can’t stand the scent of Don’t Rain on my Parade. The scent my brain created was sweet, light and oh so delicious but it’s actually extremely heavy and disgusting. It lingers on my skin more than any other shower gel and it drives me crazy. Don’t Rain on my Parade is a total marmite scent and while I wanted a nice, almost Parma Violet like smell, I got an extremely strong violet meets herbs scent. The only way I can eliminate the icky smell off of my skin after using this shower gel is to slather myself in very strong smelling moisturiser.

Lush Don't Rain on my Parade shower gel

Maybe my sense of smell isn’t as highly developed as one would like but I cannot smell anything beyond the herbs and violet. The vanilla and blueberry don't make much of an appearance which is a shame as I think they would really neutralise the strength of the violet. On the plus side, Don’t Rain on my Parade doesn’t dry out my skin and leaves me squeaky clean. At least there are some positives to an otherwise hideous shower gel.

Books of October

Monday, 14 November 2016

Thanks to the break I took from blogging, the Books of September post doesn’t exist. It’s probably a good thing since I read the grand total of one book in September; I’m just a reading machine! Conveniently I only read one book in October too so I’ll just cheat and combine those 2 months into one. Don’t tell anyone!

So the first book I read in October (or September if I’m being truthful) was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I’ve owned this book for a good 5 years or so and although I’ve seen the movie several times, I’ve never actually attempted to get past page 30 of the book. Now that I’ve read it, I think my past self was right for not even attempting to finish this. I know some people adore The Lovely Bones but I wanted to throw it out of the window.

The Lovely Bones tells the story of Susie Salmon (“Salmon, like the fish”) after she is raped and murdered by a neighbour. She watches her family and friends deal with her death from her version of heaven and ultimately, has to watch her brother and sister grow up and have their own lives without her.

Throughout the book, we’re supposed to feel angry, sad and happy. The Lovely Bones is supposed to break you down and put you back together again but I’m either devoid of human emotion or this book just doesn’t do it for me. At no point did I feel any strong emotion towards the story. I didn’t feel frustrated that Susie’s murderer basically got away with not only her murder but the murder of several girls, I wasn’t happy when he finally got his comeuppance and I definitely did not feel any form of emotion at what should have been a fairly nice ending.

Maybe The Lovely Bones would have resonated with me more as a teenager but it’s just not my thing as an adult. Maybe I am devoid of human emotion.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr was another book I read in October (I actually genuinely did read this one in October). Requiem for a Dream is both my favourite book and movie so it only seemed natural to get stuck into Last Exit to Brooklyn.

I wish I could describe the plot of this book but I don’t even know where to start. It follows the lives of multiple disgusting characters; each more tragic than the next. Their lives range from that of a drag queen who just wants to hook up with a guy to a teenage girl that goes off the rails and is gang raped to a guy who gets too involved with money that isn’t his and eventually sexually assaults a child. Each character, aside from perhaps one, is significantly viler than the last and even when I found myself liking a character, she ended up doing something horrific and my want to like her disappeared.

Last Exit to Brooklyn is equally as psychologically distressing as Requiem for a Dream; maybe even a little more as you never actually find out what happens next to each character after their heinous moment is over. Each story is left open to interpretation which only makes things more disturbing as it allows your mind to create things you never thought you’d be capable of.

Last Exit to Brooklyn has joined Requiem for a Dream on my favourite books list – and my dad is currently reading and enjoying it so I guess that explains something about me – whereas The Lovely Bones is in the “never read again” pile. I somehow went for 2 contrasting novels to read and the more twee one just didn’t cut the mustard for me. Saying that though, The Lovely Bones has been enjoyed by many so it must have something going for it, I just can’t find that thing.

Iceland: A Photo Diary

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

For Christmas last year, I decided to be a very good girlfriend and book my other half a trip to Iceland (with me in tow of course). He has always wanted to see the Northern Lights and I thought there was no better place to see them than Iceland. We had to wait 11 months from booking the holiday to actually going but it was definitely worth the wait. These photos don’t do Iceland justice but I hope you enjoy them as much I did taking them. Let’s do this thing!

Our first full day in Iceland started off incorrectly due to us losing our hotel room keys but we still made it to the Hallgrimskirkja before the tourists descended on it. Annoyingly, I didn’t get a decent picture of the church itself but the view over Reykjavik is just as pretty.

We ended up in the Reykjavik Art Museum and there just so happened to be a Yoko Ono exhibition on. One of the exhibits involved writing wishes and tying them to branch on a tree. These 2 wishes were fairly close to each other and while one made me smile, the other made me extremely sad.

The Sun Voyager was no more than 2 minutes away from our hotel but we almost forgot to have a nosy at it. If we hadn’t walked down the wrong street, we probably would have never seen it up close. It’s a rather incredible sculpture and it’s not too far from the Harpa concert hall and conference centre.

This is an inaccurate picture of the Blue Lagoon taken in the very late hours of the afternoon. I say this is an inaccurate photo because it was taken on our way out of the Blue Lagoon and it’s a place you’re not supposed to enter. The Blue Lagoon itself is packed full of people but it’s large enough to accommodate everyone while still allowing breathing space. We booked ourselves into the exclusive lounge and also had the 2 hours of wonder (which includes an in-water massage) each. If you’re willing to spend the obscene amount of money for the luxury package, I’d definitely advise you to do it; it’s worth every penny.

The only downside to our trip to the Blue Lagoon was our visit to the Lava restaurant. The food was not to our taste and it took so long for our main courses to arrive that we had to abandon our meals and head straight to the area where we were due to receive our treatments.

I can’t for the life of me remember or even find the name of this waterfall but I do know it’s at the Pingvellir National Park- this is where you can go diving between the 2 tectonic plates. There were a lot of tourists at the Pingvellir National Park when we first arrived so I became very overwhelmed, very quickly. We escaped to the waterfall and were pleased to find not many people had done the same. It was such a beautiful waterfall and the sky was still grey and miserable when we arrived so it was a very dark, gloomy and yet oh so cool scene.

This amazing landscape was found by sheer accident. We were driving on the Golden Circle when my other half saw a sign for something he thought he recognised. It turned out he was confusing the names of things and we ended up lost. Fortunately, getting lost in Iceland turned into a happy accident as we ended up finding this incredibly beautiful and incredibly quiet setting. This also happens to be where my other half got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!

After getting over the shock of being proposed to, we headed to the Geysir. It was going off every few minutes while we were there which I’m not sure is normal or not. We watched the Geysir going off a few times before beginning our journey back to the hotel.

Our journey back to Reykjavik wasn’t complete without revisiting our proposal site just as the sun went down. We hung around for a few minutes before suddenly realising our Northern Lights tour would finally go ahead that night so we had to rush back to our hotel for pickup.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a decent picture of the Northern Lights as they choose to make an appearance just as our tour bus was about to leave. If our tour guide hadn’t lost his bag, we wouldn’t have seen the lights at all. Who knew losing a bag (which he later found) would actually turn out to be so lucky.

Sadly, we were only in Iceland for a few days so the Northern Lights tour was our last time being tourists. We did get to experience what it’s like to turn up hideously late for a flight as we somehow managed to oversleep by an hour (this is why early morning flights should not exist) although that is something I could’ve gone my whole life without experiencing and would’ve been quite content.

If you’re thinking about going to Iceland, I really can’t recommend it enough. We barely got to see the majority of things we wanted to as there just wasn’t enough time but that just means we have a good excuse to go back one day!

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