Monday, 31 July 2017

Book Review: The Strings of Murder

The Strings of Murder, by Oscar De Muriel 
After becoming hooked on the darker books, like Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and The Hound of Baskervilles, I was finding it difficult to become interested in any other reads. Nothing seemed to grip my attention enough. Then this book came along. 

The book is centered around the murder of the violinist Guilleum Fontaine in Edinburgh 1888, who was murdered in a room locked from the inside with no way in or out. The case is perplexing, gruesome and, in the fearful age of the Ripper, to be handled with the utmost secrecy. Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to Edinburgh to work on the case under a fake department specialising in the supernatural. The department is the perfect illusion to work on a case of such importance in secrecy, especially considering Frey's new boss Detective 'Nine-Nails' McGray holds such an infamous reputation in the area. 

I'm not one for gruesome elements to stories, however, I enjoyed the darker elements to this book. I think because it was based in the era of the ripper and because of the nature of the storyline, it was written in a very subtle way, instead of being too graphic with details. I also really enjoyed seeing the development of the relationship between Frey and McGray, especially considering they are complete opposites to one another. 

This story had so many plot twists and was filled with many interesting details to the storyline which keeps you hooked to the story constantly. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves murder mysteries, puzzles or even just books that keep you on the edge of your seat. I'd particularly recommend to anyone who likes Sherlock Holmes novels. The bond between Frey and McGray isn't as respectful or open-minded as that of Sherlock and Watson, however, their bickering, digs, and swearing towards one another add a humorous element to the story. 

This is the first book in a series of books with Frey and McGray, the second is A Fever of the Blood and the third is A Mask of Shadows. Both of which I have posts coming up on.  

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? 
Cheerio for now! 
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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Grange Road

We officially exchanged and bought our house last week, which was a long time coming. I cannot even begin to explain how relieved I feel saying that. I am currently trying to make my room 'liveable' as it still needs a lot of work but I do need/want somewhere which is truly my own space (I will no doubt take some before and after shots of my room to show you all the process). 

This moving process has been much more stressful than I ever anticipated, and it has conjured a variety of emotions I never thought would have come up so strongly. As a result, I felt the need to channel those feelings in some sort of creative way and so, I made this. A video. 
I have dabbled with the idea of youtube for quite some time now, and have constantly had people encourage me to take the plunge and give it a go but it wasn't until now that I really thought I might be able to pull it off and make something the way I wanted. I hope you enjoy. 

Cheerio for now! 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Spring, Spring, Spring | 17

Spring has always been the time we attach to the idea of new starts. The bitter winter weather subsides, nature buds its bright blooms and new life comes in the form of cute farm animals. I've never been all that fussed when it comes to spring. For me, it's that odd time of the year when you don't know whether you need to take a jacket out with you (what am I saying? I live in England, you always need a flipping jacket). Regardless of the fear of fashion faux-pas, and how stressful this spring has been for me, I have actually enjoyed it.

There has been a lot of change in my life lately. It's almost as though everything has been stored up over time and now I finally have to deal with it all at the same time.

First of all, my year of studying Creative Writing has come to an end. I submitted my last assignment in May and that is it until I start my next module in October. Next year I will be studying a module called Reading and Studying Literature with The Open University, which will be my fourth module towards my degree. I'm looking forward to it, however, there is an exam at the end of the year which I am already nervous for (I get extremely anxious when it comes to exams).
Secondly, we have still not moved into our new house which is frustrating, to say the least. I have been living out of bags for five months now, and have lost a note of where most of my belongings are packed. Having said this, I have noticed what pieces that I own mean the most to me or are of the most use; and therefore, I have decided that once we are finally settled I need to purge a lot of my clothes and belongings. Another change in the family is that we have a new four-legged pal. His name is Vinnie and he is a fourteen-week-old chocolate Labradoodle. He is extremely laid back and very calm but has huge paws so we think he will grow to be a big dog.

And finally, I come to this space. I feel as though this place has taken a bit of a back seat for the past seven or eight months. I'm not going to make any excuses but I will say that I'm not okay with it. Throughout the rest of the year, I want to make more of an effort to be consistent and present with this space. However, I will say that while my life has and is changing in many ways -this space will too. As much as I love writing my book reviews and scouting out natural beauty products, I've also taken more of an interest in slow and minimal fashion as well as slow living in terms of interior. I'm looking forward to getting back into the routine of posting regularly.
Recent Favourites:
As always there are so many favourites I could put here (I'm thinking I should probably start producing dedicated 'favourite' posts). My Pink jacket, I purchased from ASOS, has come in so handy throughout Spring. English weather has been notoriously unpredictable so having a handy dandy, light jacket like this has been a godsend. It also goes with most of my clothes, which are predominantly grey and black. Another favourite is my film camera I picked up from Camden Market. It is a Halina 35x, originally released in 1959, which I picked up for £16! The last time I used a film camera was when I'd take disposable cameras with me on school trips so I'm looking forward to trying to master the art of film (I will no doubt write a post going into my film camera, and how I'm getting on with it, sometime soon). 
I have been listening to a lot of podcasts and Spotify playlists. With drives to the beach becoming more frequent now the warmer weather is here, podcasts and finding new music on Spotify has been a reoccurring pattern. At the moment I am loving listening to the Unexplained podcast (I have a post coming up soon which mentions this more). I also have been blaring a lot of Of Monsters and Men and Oh Wonder lately, along with more recent finds like Coco and The Butterfields (my new loves) and Lord Huron. 
I know this sounds super cheesy writing this but, I suppose the thing I have been enjoying the most this spring is time spent with my boyfriend. New relationships are always exciting but due to the 'hectic-ness' of my life lately, time spent together has seemed extra special. Probably my favourite memory from this spring has been seeing Coco & the Butterfields at the City Sound Project in Canterbury. That day was pretty great, plus I got him to get a glitter beard which was amazing.
Star Wars -yes, you read correctly. Having recently visited the Star Wars Identities exhibition at the o2, I needed to make sure my Star Wars knowledge was up to scratch. I had caught sections of certain movies, but never sat and watched the whole duration of any one given film to pick up the narrative or who the characters were. I have to say, Chewbacca and the Ewoks are my favourites. Another thing I have been enjoying watching is a series called The Tudors on Netflix. Growing up I loved anything to do with Henry VIII, his wives and children; so I am absolutely loving this series. I am nearing the end, but I do hope that they continue producing series' that follow the reigns of Edward, Mary and Elizabeth (*spoiler, I don't think they will. Waaa).

What have been the highlights of your Spring? 
Cheerio for now!
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Monday, 3 July 2017

My Summer Reading List

As my uni year is from October to May, I find that the warmer Summer months are usually the time I catch up on my reading list; and what better time to get lost in new books/worlds than when I'm at my beach hut. I try to tick off some older classics, along with some newer releases; but for the most part, I go with my gut and see what I'm drawn to.
This Summer is a little different. There are a couple of series' I want to complete, in particular, the Frey & McGray Casebooks and the Hunger Games Trilogy. Both of which I have started, but desperately need to complete. I am studying Literature next year, which of course has a lot of *reading included, most of which I have never read so I do want to try and read a couple of those books too. Who knows what I will have read by the end of this summer but so far, this is my list:
I also have a ton of magazine issues to catch up on, but I have more on that in an upcoming blog post so stay tuned! 

What books do you have your eye on for this summer? 
Cheerio for now! 

Harmful ingredients in your Beauty Products

Disclaimer: I am not a skincare expert, nor have I ever worked in the beauty industry. The information below is a combination of research I have taken part in as well as information I have been passed on by health professionals. Also, if you are happy with your skincare routine, feel it works for you and your body and have no desire to change or be exposed to what is actually in the products -I would say not to read this. Finding out certain information can broaden your mind in so many ways, but once you hear/read certain things you cannot unread them. On that note, if you would rather stay blissfully unaware and enjoy those drugstore buys, click off now! 
Product free from sulphates, parabens & petrochemicals
Now I'm no expert when it comes to skincare but over the past two years, I have become increasingly aware of the harmful ingredients in skincare products and what they can potentially do to our bodies. When I first started to change my skincare routine (you can read my skin story here) I was in an odd frame of mind. I had all this new found knowledge of these harmful ingredients thrust upon me and was horrified to learn what havoc it could potentially be causing my body. I felt as though the rose-tinted glasses had fallen off my face and I was seeing the beauty industry for what it really was -not pretty. I couldn't believe that I had been blissfully unaware of all the harmful ingredients I was putting onto my body and letting it absorb.

Fragrance: I thought I'd start with fragrance seen as this is a pretty loose, elusive ingredient that no one really knows what it entails. What do I mean by that? Well, companies can label their product with Fragrance as to not give away their secret ingredients but as to what actually makes or contributes to that fragrance we don't know. Because of this 'loophole', you could use a product thinking it is free from all the nasty ingredients below but those ingredients may contribute to the Fragrance. Sneaky, huh?

Parabens: From my understanding, Parabens are used as a preservative for products, and prevent the product developing bacteria or mould. It has also been linked to breast cancer, with samples of the chemical found in tumour biopsies. Parabens can also be found in many body products and even in pharmaceutical products as well as food.

Phthalates: These are basically a group of chemical which softens plastic -I think. From my reading, the chemical has been banned in children toys' in the EU but is still used in products such as deodorant, body lotions, perfumes and nail varnish. Phthalates have their equal effect on the body as many of these other ingredients and are linked to various cancers' such as Breast, Kidney, Liver and Lung cancer.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): This ingredient really helps foam a product so it is usually found in face wash, body wash, shampoos and even cleaning products. When the body absorbs this chemical it can cause issues with kidney, lung and the skin as well as being very irritating to eyes. This really is a nitty-gritty bugger that you want to avoid as, from my reading, it seems that when the chemical mixes with others it can potentially create a whole new harmful ingredient hosting a whole new set of problems to the body.

I specifically chose these ingredients from the long list of ingredients I could have mentioned as I felt these were the ones I had always heard of but never actually knew what they did and how they affected the body. Now I'm not going to tell you not to use them, that would be pretty impossible as many of the products in your bathroom cabinet contain them, the purpose of this post was more so to educate and make people a little more aware. Your skin is your body's biggest organ and absorbs a large portion of everything you put on it, so naturally, it's only right we know what is inside. Think of it like eating artificial preservatives in your food, except your applying them to your skin.

If you want to read more about cleansing your skin, the beauty industry and avoiding these harmful products I'd recommend this book. I also posted a review on it, which you can read here.

How do you feel after our skin lesson? Head hurt? Feel portrayed? I did too. 
Cheerio for now! 
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