Year in review: The highlights and fails of my 2017

I chose this picture of green tea because I’m ‘spilling all my tea’ about the year (yeah, the expression doesn’t sound as good when I say it) and the only tea I like is green tea. 

Is this post a bit too late? Yes, but I’m going to do it anyway. Plus, I wanted to reflect a little on my 2017 (and decided a whole 13 days was enough time for that) and not write something in a rush. My 2017 was overall a good year, but then I kind of count 2016 as the worst year of my life for me both mentally and consequently physically so in one way it just kind of couldn’t get any worse! However, I did manage to do some pretty cool stuff in 2017 and the year was what I would class an as ok year, though I’m hoping 2018 will be a great one.

Highlights 

Completing my Masters 

I’ve done a few blog posts on this but I made it through another year of higher education (woo!) and got my Masters in Journalism and Media Communications. It feels strangely distant now but I met some really great people on the course and it made me feel a bit more confident in my academic abilities again, which is always a plus.

Graduation with mother

I got my first (professional) job 

First of all, I want to make it clear I don’t think retail is not a professional job or any minimum wage job for that matter- what I mean here is I got my first job that was actually related to what I studied at University. Also, having paid holiday and not panicking about money if I am ill is such an amazing feeling.

My first day
The picture Martin took to commemorate my first day.

Mental health 

In 2017 I really tried to work through a lot of my mental health issues, and like to think I went from decidedly off track to kind of strolling along the tracks. It’s never something that will come easy to me, but sharing on this blog helped a lot, as did trying to better look after myself physically.

Dodie 3

I started this blog 

For a long period of my life I have wanted a blog. What can I say I love to write and rant about the world and a blog seemed a brilliant place to do that. Although, of course it is nice if people read your blog, like your posts or comment (which, let’s face it I’ll be honest a part of me craved); I personally just like writing and getting things off my chest. So here’s to 2017 for being the year I didn’t just post one blog post to a blog, not promote it and then delete it a week later because I felt too exposed to the world.

Year in Review post

Martin and I got our first flat 

Since Martin and I have been living together in some capacity for so long I forget sometimes that is our first ever flat together where it’s just the two of us. And the flat is cold (single glazing is not our friend), expensive (though not for the area- we got a good deal!) and still bare because we haven’t got a lot of furniture but it’s ours, it’s not tiny and is a lot better than a lot of other people’s first flats. Sure, ‘adulting’ and paying the bills sucks, but at least I have someone else to whine about it with.

Martin flat

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

2017 was also the year I got my love for reading back and I’m so happy about this. I forgot what it felt like to be so inspired. I forgot what it felt like to delay finishing a book because you loved it so much. Or to be able to stop yourself reading it all in one sitting. I forgot how much I truly was a bookworm. Basically, I love reading, it’s in every part of me from the fact that I prefer to read something rather than have someone tell me instructions (hence why audio books unfortunately aren’t for me) to the fact that I can spend longer in a book shop than most other shops.

The Power
My favourite image I took of a book last year (and one of my favourite books I read). 

Fails 

Money 

Living anywhere remotely close to London/ in the South is expensive. Consequently, despite earning a good wage we are perpetually broke. This is looking up this year however as Martin has started a better paying job, and I will be shortly booking my trip to Japan (and trying not to spend all my money on clothes in order to afford it). Also, a lot of the problem last year was that Martin and I were fed up so we spent money to fill that hole and so consequently never had any money either. We’ve finally managed to claw our way out of that cycle and once again learn the value of tins of kidney beans and sweetcorn, as well as meal prep- so much meal prep!

Mental health 

So although I put this in my highlights this was also a ‘fail’ as well. Working through things it turns out is kind of hard and I am still running away from a lot of things. As we speak I am letting those familiar nagging thoughts worm their way back in again. While 2017 was the most I’ve actually analysed my mental health (which was a positive thing overall); the journey that came with that was not exactly pleasant.

Hair/ how I felt/ feel about my appearance 

For a large part of last year I let myself get very upset over my appearance whether it be that my hair was not the colour I wanted (it still isn’t) to the fact that I no longer felt comfortable with myself generally. My body in 2016 changed a lot in a short period of time and I still have not quite got over that. This year I am determined to just dress how I want no matter what and let myself be healthy. Also, to have really great hair (any suggestions are appreciated).

I also want to give a big shout out to all my amazing friends and family. I hope your 2017 was great, and if it wasn’t I hope this year will be better. Thank you for putting up with my rants, bossiness and general weirdo nature for another full year.

April

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Veganuary: Thoughts and reflections

Just to be clear before you read this post and perhaps get upset with me at the moment I currently have not gone vegan for January. However, I have been reflecting a lot of veganism this month and wanted to share some of my thoughts and reflections.

First of all, I have been thinking about making more of my diet vegan. One, because it makes me think about what I’m eating more and two because it encourages me to eat more vegetables (though to be honest I’m not struggling too much in that regard). I also have been thinking about this because of the ethical aspect and while I admire people who do have a fully vegan diet; at the moment this is not something I am ready to fully commit to. I do maybe want to try doing things like having one vegan week a month and generally having more fully vegan meals however.

Another thing I have been considering is the other parts of living a vegan lifestyle, i.e. whether your makeup is cruelty free (and uses animal products) and the role of fashion within veganism. I have touched on this subject before on my blog and generally adhere to a lot of these in my everyday life. I don’t buy products that I know are made of leather  (I check what things are made of but I’m sure that I have missed some things). I know veganism often considers other animal by-products like wool and silk and while I do wear wool I do not wear silk. While I am not as studious on this as I sometimes would like to be I try my hardest to keep to what I personally feel happy with.

However, I will admit there is a bit of paranoia that lies within that. I often imagine people are policing me and I sometimes even unconsciously police other people on whether I think they are wearing leather, etc. This especially increases if I visit a vegan place to eat, which usually happens everytime I go to London. While I do believe in thinking about these things; I do think I have a tendency to over think and be critical, especially when I start to consider what people think of me.

I have recently started watching the videos of the Youtuber Qcknd and came across this video in which she discusses her transition into veganism. She particularly discusses how she regrets throwing away some of her leather items that had memories because when she first turned vegan that is what she felt like she had to do. I too have had such thoughts as a vegetarian when thinking about some of the few leather products I own. I’ve not thrown my items away as I thought that was more of a waste but I felt like I needed to sell the items, despite the fact that they do hold memories.

After, watching the above video though I realised that I was too focused on what people thought of me. My white Dr Martens have special memories to me, as does my Cambridge Satchel bag. And keeping or wearing them is my business and no one else’s. She also discussed buying items containing animal products from vintage shops stating how she has no problem with that. In the blog post I mentioned I also said that I had no problem with it but felt weird about it myself. I think this to a certain extent stemmed a little from being scared to wear these items because of what people thought.

Now, I’m not going to consciously look for leather items in vintage shops but if I like something and know I am going to care and look after it I need to stop feeling guilty about wanting to buy it. I wouldn’t buy something leather new but honestly I would prefer people use vintage items, as these are items already made (and not only that they have a history about them that I love)- throwing or not reusing these items would be a waste.

I also want to touch on the other topic Qcknd discusses, which is what to do about receiving non-vegan gifts as a vegan. I personally would only feel weird about leather items or cruelty free makeup as a gift, which luckily I did not receive for Christmas. My response would be depending who it was to be open or honest. If it was from a close relative and came from a place of love who did not realise I would accept the gift and maybe mention at another point that I tend not to buy leather goods or makeup that isn’t cruelty free.

I have talked a lot in this post about being less hard on myself but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working towards being more ethically conscious (and this feeds into other things too- I haven’t forgotten for example about posting more information about where my clothes come from in regards to ‘fast fashion’ and sweatshops). I have switched to cruelty free perfumes, which I am very excited about but am yet to switch to things like deodorant. I have used cruelty free shampoo and conditioner but sometimes when I couldn’t afford to I didn’t. Also, to be honest I haven’t found one that works as nice for my hair. I think what everyone needs to remember you don’t have to do everything at once just working towards it is more than enough.

So essentially this Veganuary I want to reflect on how I can still bring more elements of veganism into my life but how I need to not worry about anyone’s judgement but my own. I also want to say a big shout out to all the vegans out there- thank you for bringing way more vegan and vegetarian food options into my life last year and I’m sure in the years to come!

April

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What I got for Christmas: 2017

This post probably comes more than a little bit late, but since my blog post talking about what I got for my birthday last year was one of my most popular posts; I thought that I definitely should stop procrastinating and get to writing this post. As mentioned in the last post, and as I will probably mention in every blog post about presents, I am a very lucky person who was very spoilt. I appreciate every gift given to me, and I am not doing this to brag but for the people out there who are nosy like me, or are interested in similar things to me. Also, that sounded a lot more blasé than I meant it to be- I am truly grateful- I promise!

First of all, before I get into this post I would like to give a shout out to the people who very kindly bestowed me with money, I’m not going to say who because for some reason that feels tacky (ha, ha) but if they are missed out of this list then you know who. Also, I would like to give a shout out to my boyfriend who bought me tickets to go see Dodie on the 1st of April in London!!! If you could not already tell I am incredibly excited for this, and happy that he is lovely enough to accompany me even though this is something he will not enjoy no where near as much.

From my Mother and close family

Some of my presents I actually bought and my mum gave me the money for because a lot of them only I could get, as for example I bought the Dodie merchandise from the Dodie pop-up shop in London. My mum did also buy some little presents so I had things to open Christmas Day, and wrapped my Danielle Nicole clutch, even though I was the one who ordered it because my mum struggled with the website (you have to sign up to order and the process takes a while!).

Dodie ‘I promise you it will all make sense again’ jumper

Dodie 3

I have written about this before in my Dodie pop up shop post (linked above), but I’ll speak a little about it again. I really love this jumper. It’s super soft and comfy. Unfortunately, at the moment because it tangled with something fluffy in the wash it needs attacking with a lint roller but I can’t wait to wear it again, and will probably have to be stopped from buying another one when I go see Dodie in April. If this jumper is something that speaks to you, you can now buy it on Dodie’s online shop along with other awesome merchandise.

Dodie Secrets for the Mad book

Dodie Secrets for the Mad

Again, I’ve already written about this before but I love, love, love this book. It is definitely one of my best reads of 2017. If you’re struggling to think about how you need to just take some time, reflect and look after your body this book is a read for you. It’s also interlaced with lyrics, and images throughout so is not a long read either if lengthy reads are not your thing.

Danielle Nicole Harry Potter Ravenclaw Uniform Clutch 

Ravenclaw clutch

One of the things that came a bit late last minute before Christmas was this Ravenclaw clutch bag. I was actually lucky to get mine on QVC UK (lucky because it kept going in and out of stock). The price was also good as well as it was £25 with £3 added on for shipping as far as I remember. At the moment the bag is still available on the Danielle Nicole website for $48.00 dollars for pre-order but combined with the international shipping price and likely custom fees the QVC UK price I thought was a bargain. Apart from wanting this to fuel my Harry Potter obsession (and to build up items for a *cough* *cough* Ravenclaw fashion lookbook); the bags from the Harry Potter collection are all leather free as well, which is a big plus for me.

My one annoyance with this bag is that the chain is not as long as I would like, as I would prefer the chain to be long enough so I could wear the bag across me, which would especially be useful for night outs (not that I’m a party animal in any way- I mean night outs going to eat food).

Overall, this bag is well made (the inside of it is gorgeous) and it gives you a little bit of house pride in everyday life, as well as a bit of glitter, which is always a good thing in my book.

Stocking fillers 

Stocking Filler

My mum had this adorable little stocking for me full of presents under the tree so I had something to rummage through on Christmas Day. It contained a bunch of beauty products from a brand called Flutter. Flutter is a Superdrug own brand, and when I searched through the cruelty free brands on Superdrug’s website Flutter came up as one of those brands.

Nail Files

These nail files have super cute patterns on and make me want me to file my nails more, even though I am useless at it. Also, if someone could show me how to use them properly that would be super helpful, as one of them has flying cats on it so I need to make them a part of my life.

Lip Balm

These lip balms are also super cute, I haven’t tried them out yet but I’m always in need of lip balm because my lips get super dry in the winter, and it has hit a cold spell again where I am (I swear my feet are doomed to be permanently cold).

This little eyeshadow set is also adorable, and I like how it is a neutrals palette, as I personally tend to gravitate towards shimmers or ‘fun’ colours and then forget that I need neutrals to actually build up most of the looks I like. Therefore, I can’t wait to try this out as I think some of the colours will pair nice with (spoiler alert) another eye shadow palette I received for Christmas. The shades all have a nice bit of gold sparkle to them, but I haven’t swatched them just because I don’t think the first two shades will show up on my skin tone very well (but if you are interested in me swatching them let me know)!

Primark Harry Potter pyjamas 

Hogwarts Alumni

My sister works at Primark so she picked me up these super cute fleece Harry Potter pyjamas for my mum as a present for me (and also the next present below, which was from her). Since it is very cold at the moment this is a present I am very grateful for!

Primark Bmo pyjamas 

BMO pyjamas

Please ignore the stain- food as usual has betrayed me lol. 

As I type I am sat in these pyjamas right now. They are incredibly comfy and go great with my Primark Bmo nightgown. Bmo is definitely one of my favourite Adventure Time characters, and I love all the Primark Adventure Time stuff- if anyone ever sees anything with Marceline or Princess Bubblegum on let me know!

From my Grandad 

My grandad got a variety of knick knacks that only he could pick out as usual (that is not intended to be a ‘dig’ though!), and this diary and owl purse are cute favourites of mine. One, because I always need a diary because I got through notebooks so quickly. Two, because this little purse is so cute, and would make a great Autumn purse (and yes I like to coordinate things by season!).

From Martin’s family 

I got absolutely spoilt by Martin’s family (well, I got spoilt from everyone lol) and I’ll be honest I love it. Prepared to see a mixture of makeup, books and more, as well as a big insight into the kind of things I like.

Paramore After Laughter Vinyl 

Paramore After Laughter

Although, I admit I was not sure about Paramore’s new album at first, I’ve grown to love it. No, it’s not my favourite ever Paramore album but some of the songs are absolute bops, and I’m gutted that I couldn’t get tickets to see them this January. Also, this reminds me that we really need to get some drawers to store our Vinyl in because knowing me I will find a way to damage it if I don’t have a proper place to store it.

Decorative Hedgehogs 

Decorative Hedgehogs.jpg

For those who are unaware I like hedgehogs ornaments and so am very happy that there are people willing to fuel that obsession. These ones are super cute as well, I just need to find somewhere to put them as I am in desperate need of a set of drawers.

American sweets (shared present with Martin)

American sweets

By some miracle of nature we have not devoured these already- if you know how much I love sugar- you’ll realise just how much of a miracle this is. I think Martin and I definitely need to have a movie night at some point and make our way through these (the Reese bar however is firmly mine).

Edit: This post was written over a few days- we have devoured (well Martin has) quite a few of these now. 

This One Summer graphic novel 

This One Summer

This was in fact a recommendation from the person I always talk to in my local comic shop (I won’t say their name for privacy reasons- I don’t know if they want their name splashing all over the internet!- ok in a little corner of the internet).

The first thing that grabbed me about this graphic novel is that the artwork and style is just so beautiful. The second, the plot, but the below will explain that better than me, so without further ado here is the official blurb that I saw on Amazon:

“Every summer, Rose goes with her mum and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mum and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.”

Also, an interesting and sad fact about this graphic novel is that it made headlines because it was banned from a Minnesota school library reportedly because it contained, “inappropriate language”. It has also been banned because it, “includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes”.

I’ve not yet finished this graphic novel, but what I have read so far it is bittersweet in the best way possible. I’m planning to write a review once I’ve finished so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Kiki’s Delivery Service DVD

As mentioned in my other blog post about the subject Kiki’s Delivery Service is my all time favourite Studio Ghibli film (so far!). I’m hoping to one day collect all of the films in the collection. Hence, why I took a picture to highlight that this is ‘number 5’ in the DVD collection. Martin is already prepared for me to watch this over and over again.

Chocolate coins 

Chocolate Coins

Martin’s family always get me chocolate coins, which I very much appreciate. There is something undeniably fascinating about ripping the foil off each individual coin that I don’t get with chocolates like Celebrations where I just find it annoying having to individually unwrap each one.

Kat Von D ‘Saint’ Perfume and Lipstick set 

I have mentioned previously how I’ve been looking for a cruelty free perfume to replace my old choice of Chanel, and when I smelled ‘Saint’ by Kat Von D Beauty I knew that it was definitely going to be one of my choices (another favourite I’ve tried is Vanillary from Lush). The lipstick that comes with this mini set it also very ‘me’, as while all my friends rock the dark tones I’m always there with the bright pink lip just bopping around.

Saint Swatch

That’s my fist by the way- it just looks like a weird blob in this photo so I thought I better mention it! 

Kat Von D Everlasting mini lipstick collection 

Kat Von D Lip

I would like to preface by saying that I absolutely adore the shade Lovecraft in this collection, in fact it might even beat my Lolita II as my favourite Kat Von D shade and I will definitely need to buy a full size tube when my mini one infinitely runs out.

In regards to swatches I’m going to make a full post with proper swatches on my lips for all my Kat von D lipsticks but for now I’ve swatched all the shades on my arm only for this post.

Kat von D swatches

From top down: Lovecraft, Ludwig, Sanctuary, Madrid, Hawkwind, Exorcism, Damned and Witches. 

Lindt and Baileys gift set 

Lindt and Baileys

Even more chocolate! I’m not a big drinker but Baileys is more of a sweet treat to most people anyway (including me) and it will be lovely in a hot chocolate when I’m cosying up at the weekend.

From my friend, Holly 

I think Holly and I are just obsessed with buying each other Pop! figures so I was unsurprised and delighted when this Yurio Pop! figure made it’s way to me. Also, this gives me an excuse to complete the Yuri! On Ice collection, as I am trying to not start buy Pop! figures from too many different franchises at once and instead build up sets.

Yurio Pop

From my friend, Callie 

As per usual my friend Callie got me way too much, and also proved how much she knows me/ listens to my social media rants.

Juvia’s Place The Magic palette 

Before you ask in the second photograph I have already used the eyeshadows a few times and that’s why they looked used! This palette is so beautiful and as a lover of shimmers this palette a dreamboat. You can definitely build some beautiful looks out of this palette, but I’d personally recommend pairing it with another palette for looks if you’re someone who likes quite neutral transition shades though there are a few really workable mattes on the palette.

On the left image from top to bottom is: Nubia, Zakiya, Osun, Kesi (hard to see on my skin tone), Zuba, Nana, Borunu, Kogi, Faso. 

On the right from top to bottom is: Aja, Vai, Yemoja, Ife, Yara, Buzo and Yejide.

As you can see I am not a brilliant swatcher but here are what all the colours look like on my skin tone. You probably won’t be able to see it but in between the pink and orange-gold on the left swatch there is actually a swatch of the shade ‘Kesi’. It does show up a bit more on my eyes and in person, but I like to use it as a base coat personally.

Snowflake Cookie Yankee Candle 

Yankee Candle

After being devastated when I thought this candle had disappeared after Christmas, I was very happy to receive this as a gift (we exchanged our gifts after Christmas). It just smells so good, and it so my aesthetic that it hurts. Until otherwise noted this is my all time favourite Yankee candle. Also, according to a quick google search Yankee candles are from what information I could see cruelty free and vegan.

Primark Pusheen Mermaid Slippers 

Once again proving how much Callie knows me she bought me these mermaid pusheen slippers (the black fluff is from a pair of leggings I own lol). These are super duper snug and since my feet are always cold I love these (our flat has a lot of wooden flooring though my feet are always cold anyway). Also, the tree is because Christmas (though I may have forgotten just a little bit to take it down). I love these though they are the second pair of slipper sock things Callie has bought me (the first being a Marie pair) so I think she just loves buying me slippers for some reason.

Mermaid Pusheen 

Mermaid cuddly

This pusheen lives at my workplace but I bought her home for the weekend to take a picture. I love all things pusheen and pastel so mermaid pusheen is a dream come true to me. Also, I am trying to collect a pusheen for each season (I already have a witch one for halloween) and for some reason this pusheen screams Spring to me!

The Boxing Day sales (or from myself)

One thing I’m not sure if I really liked is that the boxing day sales in a lot of cases started earlier than Boxing Day this year. For people like me who rely on Christmas money to fuel their bargains in the sale this was a bit of an annoying move though an understandable one- it meant less of the pressure on shops on Boxing Day so hopefully more people could enjoy their Christmas. Since, I massively missed out on the Black Friday deals due to being very broke at the time, I really wanted to get some good sale goodies.

Asos 

The first thing I purchased was this dress from Lazy Oaf on Asos that was reduced from £68.00 to £30.00. Having coveted this dress for a very long time I could just not resist this deal. In person this dress is so super cute and like all Lazy Oaf dresses it has pockets! I haven’t managed to get a good picture of me wearing this yet but check out these super cute babes who make this dress look amazing (and inspire me on how I’m going to wear mine).

Topshop and H and M

I also bought this super cute denim jacket from Topshop that was in the sale.

Topshop Denim Jacket

Mustard top: H&M (old) 

Playsuit: H&M (I can’t find the exact one online but it is this one but with a flower print)

Scarf: Platform 9/34’s shop

Bag: Primark (I got this from the Tottenham Court Road Primark in London, which is often referred to as the ‘Harry Potter Primark’ but I’ve seen it in plenty of other Primarks). 

Tights: Primark 

Loafers: Topshop (old)

I got very excited about this outfit, hence why I’m pretending I’m a model. The jacket is just so super cute. I had wanted it for a while, saw it in the sale and was determined to resist. I then realised I had made a mistake and saw it was sold out online! Therefore, when I went in my local Topshop and saw the jacket there I knew I had to have it. Which is my excuse to why I gave the person who was right in front of me stroking it evils. Luckily, she moved on and I quickly grabbed it. It’s slightly cropped, which I sometimes like in a jacket as it compliments my body shape. At the moment the jacket is out of stock on the Topshop website but try checking back because after I bought it I noticed it was back in stock again in a few sizes. The jacket was originally £49.00 and reduced to £34.00.

Game

One thing I also was excited to buy for myself in the sale for £12.99 at Game is this Kylo Ren Christmas jumper. Although, I will probably lose it before next Christmas and I wish it was more socially acceptable to wear it all year round I just couldn’t resist it, especially as I coveted it before but I didn’t want to splurge when it was £24.99.

Red Hair

Lush

I feel like my love of Lush is well documented on this blog and I couldn’t resist picking up a few goodies in the sale, especially as everything was half price! However, I did use the opportunity to try some products I’ve wanted to try, as well as pick up a favourite from Halloween.

Snow Fairy

I can’t find my receipt but after doing some digging I think the original price for this 250g bottle was £7.95 and in the sale it around £3.97 to £4.00. This shower gel smells AMAZING (translation: like sweets) and next Christmas I will definitely be stocking up on this again. Personally, I wish they sold this all year round because I will be super sad when it runs out.

Since I was a large fan of the Lush Halloween collection this year, particularly the Pumpkin bath bomb, I couldn’t resist picking up this little set, especially as I regretted not trying out the pink pumpkin bubble bar (it also looks super cute- it’s one of those ones that it is bittersweet when you actually use it!). This was £12.95 I think normally and about £6.47 or £6.48 in the sale.

Shoot for the Stars bath bomb

My final purchase from Lush was this Shoot for the Stars bath bomb. I really loved this bath bomb. For one thing it turns your bath a lovely cascade of blue shades, and I also really loved how it leaves the little gold stars floating in your bath for a while. There is something in this bath bomb that leaves your skin super soft as well afterwards. I am very gutted this is a Christmas special after trying it, as I would definitely buy this again! This bath bomb was somewhere between £3-£4 and so about £1.50-£2 in the sale. All I remember is that all together everything I bought from Lush was about £12 when usually just the Pumpkin set would have probably cost that.

There is all it is then- the many lovely presents I got and bought myself after Christmas (minus a 1kg bar of Cadburys from Wilkos that was half price, as I didn’t think that necessary to document!). I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to let me know what you’re favourite present that you got for Christmas was in the comments below.

April

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My top nine blog posts of 2017

So I was scrolling across Instagram and I saw one of those posts with a user’s top nine posts for the year, and I thought it might be fun to do it for my blog. Mainly, to be honest because this is helpful for me to see what kind of content everyone likes, and also because it gives me an excuse to reminiscence over what I’ve written for the year.

Overall, I’ve actually posted 44 posts this year (45 once the post before this post is published). Honestly, I hadn’t realised it was that many (though it might seem a lot to some) so it made me feel a little bit better about this blog, as lately I know I’ve not been putting enough time and effort in.

My first post if anyone is interested was on March the 15th 2017 (so this blog is still less than a year old!). At this time of writing 23 people follow this blog, which I know only makes this blog a small drop in the ocean but means so much to me.

However, before I get soppy, without further ado, my most popular post of 2017 was…

Lazy Oaf Sample Sale Haul 

I am still a bit upset that there has not been a part 2 to this post, as I was unable to make the sample sale in December. However, I am determined to make the sample sale in June next year, so be prepared for a part two. I tried to be as honest about the whole experience as possible, so I hope the post has helped some people who haven’t been to a Lazy Oaf sample sale before. I know the posts I read about the December sample sale were very useful (with my main take away being that prices have gone up due to more of the stock being one off pieces rather than samples), so I can only hope that my post has done the same for some people- especially as it’s my most viewed post!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.01.50

What I got for my Birthday: 2017 (Aged 22) 

Although, I know that I personally love watching videos or reading posts about what other people got for their birthday or for Christmas because I’m nosy; I am still shocked this is my second most viewed post. Mostly, because I find this kind of content interesting usually because I have been following someone for a certain amount of time, so know that the gifts they are likely to receive would also be something I’d want also. I don’t think that’s the case with my post, but thank you to everyone who has read it, and I hope it inspired you gift wise, or at least made decent reading.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.04.23

Hello Kitty Topshop Pop Up Shop Mini Haul 

I am not going to lie I’m quite pleased this is my third most viewed post, as when I did attend the pop up shop; I hadn’t been able to find that many blog posts or vlogs about the shop at all online. While, my photography skills are still very much lacking I did try to show the entirety of the collection, and give an idea about prices, so visitors knew what to expect. I still use the phone case I bought from that trip (though I think I need to update!) so it’s nice to know the trip that I am reminded of a lot in my everyday life is on this list.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.05.37

This Belle ‘Beauty and the Beast’ cosplay is goals 

This was actually the first ever post on this blog, so it will always have a special place in my heart. First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to the cosplayers and all the photographers who helped make this post a reality. Especially, as it really is the content that you all provided that make this post come to life. I have admired the cosplayers in this post for a long time so it was absolute honour to conduct this interview.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.07.20

Image: Laura Beresford Photography

Feminist Reading Journey: Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

While my feminist reading journey posts are definitely not over though perhaps on a little bit of a hiatus; it is definitely encouraging to know that this is one of my most viewed blog posts. I have no idea why this post is so much more popular than the other posts in the series. Perhaps, I actually reviewed the book more than usual in this post, and didn’t go off on a tangent though I just read back the post and there was a big tangent before the post even started!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.09.12

Image: The Kawaii Kollective

Dodie’s ‘Secret for the Mad’ Book Review (and Pop up shop) 

Since ‘Secrets for the Mad’ is up there with my favourite books of 2017 (let me know if you’d like a whole post about what were actually my favourite books of the year); I am very happy that this is one of my most viewed posts as it is also one of my last posts of 2017. I’m also very happy to say that I am going to see Dodie in April next year (I can’t wait!!!), so hopefully there will be a concert post coming your way (which, will most likely be my first ever concert review/ post!).

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.10.09

Riverdale’s Archie and Miss Grundy and the worrying repeated sexualisation of student-teacher relationships

Ok, so I have a major confession in relation to this post and that is that I really need to catch up with Riverdale. As I ashamed to say I still have not finished season one. Something, I am going to make sure I change this year, especially since so many of you seem to enjoy this post. If I can get organised enough, I’d love to do reviews of episodes or of seasons as a whole.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.11.17

Image: Riverdale/ The CW/ Netflix 

I’ve officially finished my Master’s degree 

This post was one of the posts I was most nervous about sharing this year, but I am so glad I did. Since then, my courage about what I post, and even what I say in ‘real life’ has gone up so much. Yes, I’m still nervous, and unbearably awkward when I don’t know someone well, but I’m a lot more honest, which is just such a relief for me on so many occasions.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.12.41

The Hello Kitty x Lazy Oaf Collection is here 

I’m happy that there is at least one other fashion related post on this list because fashion is really what I would like to try and blog more about this year. This collection is what truly got me into Lazy Oaf, and since then not only has my ‘style game’ in my opinion got more quirky and improved, but I’ve had so much fun talking to people who love the brand also. I can’t wait to see what the brand comes up with in 2018, and I hope to expand my collection even more this year!

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 21.14.00

So there it is, my top nine for 2017. I know since it’s New Years Day this post is coming maybe a bit late. But I also know I’m unashamedly going to be posting more reflective posts all this year (as long as it’s the first week of the year it’s ok, right?). I personally can’t wait to see what this year will bring from fellow bloggers, and on my own blog. I’m so happy that I finally actually have a blog after wanting one for years so to be honest I’m over the moon and ecstatic everytime I get a view or a comment.

Thank you to anyone who has read my blog and made that happen.

April

Facebook: @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog

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New Year Resolutions: 2017

I wasn’t sure at first whether I wanted this post to also include my highlights and some moments from my year that were not highlights (as I believe in balance), however, I think that is best in another post (plus, you know I’m inconsistent with posting so this way there will hopefully be more content). For as long as I can remember I’ve always made new year resolutions, whether I’ve stuck to them is another thing entirely. I have a habit of dreaming too big and letting myself because my goals were too impossible so I’ve vowed to make my resolutions this year a bit smaller.

  1. Travel to Japan

I am determined this year that I’m not going to make grand travel plans again and then watch them fall through- I’m actually going to go to the places I planned! Money though as per usual is tight, and to be honest it feels like a lot of the time that I won’t make this goal. However, travelling is one of my main passions in life, and one of the memories that I have which make me truly feel happy, and excited to talk about so I’m determined to make this vision a reality. Therefore, this year, Japan here I come.

Source: Giphy (Tumblr credit on image) 

2. Finish all the films in the Studio Ghibli canon

This year is the year that Studio Ghibli has truly entered my life. I know for a lot of people I am VERY behind the curve, but well I’m just slow. At the moment my favourite Studio Ghibli film is Kiki’s Delivery Service, so much so that you can read the little love letter I wrote to the film here. After that, Spirited Away is my favourite, followed by Howl’s Moving Castle and then My Neighbour Totoro. The reason some fan favourites are not higher up in my list is simply that I have not watched them yet, so that is my plan for this year. Ideally, I’d like to watch them all before I visit Japan, and spend way too much money in the Studio Ghibli museum (it is the one place I’m going to allow myself to over indulge a bit while in Japan).

Source: Spirited Away/ Giphy 

3. Finish my novel

I think I’ve made some vague comments on here to signal that I’m writing a novel, and if I haven’t well, I am, writing a novel that is. I’m trying to write 2,000 words a week, which was going well till Christmas, but luckily I’m not that far behind. At the moment not everything is necessarily in chronological order, but at the start I was just trying to make sure I actually got the 2,000 words a week written that it didn’t matter to me as much. My resolution then is try to focus on tidying up what I have so far, and actually come up with a plan on what direction I want the novel to go in.

Source: Giphy 

4. Try to focus on what brings me joy

This may seem a bit of a general resolution, but I think one of the main issues I’ve had in the last couple of years with my happiness is that I’ve focused on everything spiralling in my life, and to be honest I’m sick of being negative. So I’m going to focus on the things I look forward to and am excited for like MCM London Comic Con in May, my trip to Japan, reading books and watching shows I love (because there is nothing wrong with getting excited about that).

I also think a part of this is focusing on my mental health, and trying to do more things to help it, rather than just ignoring it.

Source: Giphy

5. Organise this blog

I feel like every person with a blog has this on their list right now, and I for one definitely feel like this blog needs it. My goal is to have one post a week, it doesn’t have to be a set theme (as that makes life difficult) or a set day (though I’m toying with it being a Friday). I might sometimes have more than one post a week, but at the moment I want at least one.

I also would like to try categorising my posts more and see if I can get some subheadings on my site to make it easier for people to search. I know my posts discuss a variety of different topics, and some people might only be interested in book reviews for example or fashion so I’d like to make it easier for people to find the section they like.

Content wise I’d also like to discuss some of my favourite vegetarian/ vegan places to eat, or things I like to eat. Especially, when travelling, as this is something I’m definitely aiming to talk about in regards to my trip to Japan (because as a vegetarian traveller its definitely something I’ve thought about and read and watched a lot of videos about).

Source: Giphy

6. Complete my chapter for a secret project

I’m hoping that because January is the month that most of us have a spike of productivity that this is enough to fuel me to finish an essay for a project I was kindly accepted to be a part of. I won’t say anymore in case my essay doesn’t make the cut, but essentially I need to stop stalling and get writing (which, essentially is the story of my life).

Source: Giphy

7. Dye my hair a new colour 

I’m currently planning to dye my hair today (and hopefully it should be done by the time this post is out), but after a few months of not knowing what colour I wanted my hair to be I have come to the conclusion that I think I would like it pink again at some point, and if I ever decide to cut it silver.

Red Hair

Spoiler alert: I dyed my hair. 

These I will be honest aren’t all my resolutions but they are the ones I’m sharing because they are the ones I most want to have a reminder for (note how I said not held accounted to- please don’t do that unless explicitly asked to by people). Let me know if you have any similar New Years revelations below because although we all know that you can make the change whenever you want to, sometimes we need a boost and there’s nothing wrong with using the concept of New Years to do that.

April

Facebook: @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog

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Is it time to reclaim womensplaining?

Today, I had the joy of someone ‘manspreading’ next to me on the bus. For those who aren’t familiar with the term manspreading is a term used to describe when a man sits down next to you, and essentially feels the need to spread their legs as wide as they can, effectively backing you into a corner. I’m not going to get into debates on whether women does this too, but so far in my life I’ve only had men do this to me. Granted, not very often, but each time it’s quite frankly annoying and makes me uncomfortable. What’s wrong with trying as hard as possible not to physically touch the person next to you on the bus, train, tube or whatever your mode of transport is and just be an awkward British person?

In response to this phenomenon the term womenspreading recently took Instagram by storm and is where famous women posted pictures of themselves sat down spread out as much as possible to highlight that they were not afraid to take up space.

However, it’s not manspreading I came to talk to you about today, but another internet fuelled word womensplaining and it’s companion mansplaining.

While writing this I did a quick search for womensplaining and came up with this definition (also I noticed the definitions on Urban Dictionary all are very anti-feminist):

“The tendency of some women to mistakenly believe that they automatically know more about any given topic than does a man and who, consequently, proceed to explain to him- correctly or not- things that he already knows.”

Source: Urban Dictionary 

To explain further, I found an explanation that talk about womensplaining, as being related to women believing themselves to be authorities on anything generally considered ‘women’s work’ and believing that men are incapable of knowing about these things, and consequently looking down on them. This I agree is true, as unconscious bias’ such as these are a major force in society.

For me though womensplaining does not have to be exact opposite to what mansplaining is. And just to be clear mansplaining is, “what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does”*.

Instead, womensplaining came in my head to explain my intense desire to talk back- to explain my point of view and have it listened to.  Throughout my life I’ve heard what many would describe as ‘geeky’ conversations, usually about the Marvel or DC comic universes or other stereotypically male dominated franchises (or typically male beloved- though this is changing- yay!) where every word of the male-dominated conversation feels like they are talking down to everyone else in the room.

I heard such a conversation today on my bus journey home (the bus didn’t go well for me today) where two male, I’m going to presume college students where discussing DC and Marvel, and which was a multiverse or not. The urge to just turn around, and say ‘Well actually…’ was strong. What stopped me was that although I eagerly follow the films for both comic powerhouses I stopped trying to be a part of the comic verse a long time ago- honestly, because of conversations like these that I had heard that scared me off.

However, I really wanted to. I wanted them to be proven wrong. This was especially exacerbated when I later overheard them talking about how if a women was in charge of the world there would be far more wars because women just can’t help but fight with each other.

Honestly, though I realised it’s not even about proving people wrong (though I’ll admit there is a certain level of satisfaction in that); it’s about having your thoughts on a typically male dominated subject accepted and listened to. For example, yesterday I explained the Star Wars universe to a man. And it felt good that I was the one with the knowledge, and that they accepted it.

That for me I think is the real desire. No, I don’t want to just go around calling people out. I want to be unafraid to be an authority in one of these discussions, and to be listened to. And I don’t think I’m alone. For me, that is what I think womesplaining is. The chance for women to explain their opinions without being made to feel an outsider or judged more harshly.

Perhaps, though a new term needs to be made (as womensplaining as defined above needs to be defined in of itself). As that appears to be the only way we can talk about our experiences now (which is not necessarily a bad thing- such movements have done miles of good). Either way, there needs to be some way to voice this desire to speak out, said by someone with a lot more knowledge than me.

Especially, as my experience doesn’t even begin to touch on the way women of colour,  the LGBTQ+ community, people from disadvantaged economic backgrounds, and anyone with a disability are silenced (this list is by no means exhaustive either!).

*Source: Merriam-Webster

Ten Nerdy (or geeky) Christmas Jumpers

At first I was really struggling to get into the Christmas spirit. However, watching Elf really does get you excited for the Christmas season- trust me! Either way, it’s past the 1st of December so I can officially talk Christmas with all of you, plus there is snow outside my house and snow makes everything feel just that little bit more like Christmas.

I also bloody love a bit of snow (and Martin gets ridiculously excited by it too) despite like all British people we are completely unprepared (I NEED snow boots). Though I have to admit where I live people seem annoyingly prepared, I’m convinced its because people have a lot of money in this area (hence why I am so poor all the time in comparison) and so are so well prepared because they are used to going on skiing holidays (I however am not).

The only things I have that I could wear are my old white Dr Martens, which make pretty good snow boots. However, I feel weird wearing them because they’re leather (but yet I still can’t throw away because memories- it’s a whole thing- see my previous posts). However, I don’t really think they are work appropriate- so the journey in tomorrow is going to be interesting to say the least.

Snow

The snow outside my window. 

Since everyone I know is definitely feeling the chill, I thought I’d do a list of my favourite nerdy/ geeky (chose the descriptor of your choice) Christmas jumpers that I have found. Also, before I start, I want to issue a small disclaimer. This is just a list of jumpers I want to buy. I haven’t bought from all these retailers so can’t guarantee their service, etc. Buy at your own risk, and make sure to thoroughly check out each website in advance.

I also want to apologise for the mix of Tumblr and Pinterest posts included below (it will become clear soon). Basically, I wanted the posts all to be Tumblr posts so my Tumblr was full of nice Christmas jumpers but what happened instead is that I now have a few posts that don’t make sense because the other websites didn’t load the image of the jumper for the Tumblr post. I also now have an incomplete Pinterest album so as per usual my life is a total fail!

1. Star Wars Princess Leia and Han Solo under the Mistletoe jumper 

Modelled here by the awesome Sarah Louise Brand– her Instagram is definitely high on my inspiration list. It’s red (which I love in a Christmas jumper) and it features one of my favourite romances of all time, and one of my favourite Sci-Fi heroines Princess Leia. It’s for all those reasons that this jumper is the number 1 Christmas jumper I need in my life.

Price: £24.99.

Retailer: IWOOT.

2. Labyrinth Fairisle Knitted Jumper 

This is quite frankly an amazing jumper. One, because I love a good 80s throwback, especially when it comes to jumper. Two, because I spot a new amazing detail everytime I look at it. And three, because who doesn’t want a Labyrinth Christmas jumper.

Price: £35.99

Retailer: Truffle Shuffle.

3. Jurassic World Fair Isle Christmas Jumper 

I will ignore that this is a Jurassic World and not a Jurassic Park jumper because it is so awesome (and no, I haven’t actually seen Jurassic World because I am in denial it exists- along with the new Jumanji film). This though is truly a great looking jumper, and one for anyone who would prefer a black Christmas jumper.

Price: £29.99.

Retailer: Truffle Shuffle.

There’s is also a Men’s fit version of this jumper available for anyone who prefers their jumpers to fit that way! 

4. Miffy Let It Snow Christmas Jumper 

So I know some people might argue that Miffy is more cute than nerdy, but for the sake of an argument let’s just agree that by nerdy I mean anything that refers to a piece of pop culture. Also, this jumper is just so adorable that I had to include it, especially considering what I see when I look out my window (snow if you hadn’t gathered that already)! This jumper is also one of the more ‘neutral’ options on this list so if you want a bit of Christmas cute, and are unlike me and don’t realise that half of what you wear would be considered ‘out there’ then this is probably the jumper for you.

Price: £29.99.

Retailer: Truffle Shuffle.

5. Spider-Man Knitted Christmas Jumper 

Well, I did say I loved a good old red Christmas jumper and this one definitely hits that box. If you’re like me and the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse trailer has got you pumped then wear this and show off your Spidey fan pride. Especially, as it’s on sale!

 

Price: £24.99

Retailer: Geek Core

6. Captain America Knitted Christmas Jumper 

So this one is not only red. But red, white and blue- funny that, for a Captain America themed jumper. If you’re like me and Captain America is one of your favourite Avengers then this jumper is for you. Plus, you could always use it for a Captain America at Christmas time cosplay (we all know he wouldn’t be able to resist to have a themed jumper).

Price: £24.99

Retailer: Geek Core

7. Star Wars Yoda Christmas Jumper 

I’m not going to lie I mainly love this jumper because of the pun- ‘The Season To Be Jolly It Is’. However, it is also a really nice looking Star Wars jumper for those who aren’t into the more romantic offering I suggested earlier. Also, Yoda doesn’t look weird on the design, which is always a plus because I’ve seen some sketchy looking Yoda’s on Star Wars merchandise in my time. This would be amazing to wear to go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi next week as well (I’m so excited!!!).

Price: £32.99

Retailer: Geek Core

8. Stranger Things Holiday Light-Up Sweater (aka a Jumper)

So I refused to put ‘ugly’ into the title for this item like it says on the product description because I respectively disagree. For those of you who don’t know, I love, LOVE Stranger Things and I’d be totally willing to pay the custom charges I’d incur to buy this amazing jumper. The only thing that would make this better for me is if this was a cardigan and not a jumper but then it wouldn’t be in this post if it was, would it!!!

I wish that I also would look half as good as lunestelle does wearing it (which is highly unlikely).

Price: £19.70 (not including shipping/ customs, etc.)

Retailer: Target

9. Wonder Woman: Winter Wonderland Knitted Christmas Jumper

Just like how Wonder Woman saved the Justice League film for me (along with The Flash, and despite the fact that they tried their hardest to ruin her character); let this Wonder Woman jumper save your Christmas style (please forgive that whole sentence). The model in the images on the website totally rocks this, and has convinced me I can look as good in it as well, which hasn’t helped my need for this jumper. Either way, it’s a Wonder Woman jumper so I’d want it whether it was Christmas themed or not (though obviously depending on the style because I’m fussy).

Price: £36.99

Retailer: Merchoid

10. Playstation Official Pink Christmas Jumper 

I need to start this one with a confession. I’m not actually a Playstation user (except for the occasional times Martin lets me have the controller and I just wander around aimlessly and bump into walls). However, I know a lot of people are so I wanted to include one for the game lovers out there. I unfortunately didn’t see any good Anime jumpers, as I wanted to include something from that category too. I also don’t know if there is a fierce Xbox vs. Playstation rivalry and if this will cause internet ‘beef’ but I’ll be honest I saw no Xbox jumpers and I really like this jumper. I did consider including some Nintendo jumpers but none particularly caught my eye (please comment if you’ve seen some good ones).

Either way, I really should get into playing Martin’s playstation more because I really like this jumper (ha, ha), though I really don’t need another obsession to add to my list!

Link is to Geek Core (where it sold out, as I was struggling to pin the item from Amazon). 

Price: £34.99.

Retailer: Amazon

So, there it is- a collection of my favourite Christmas jumpers out there for anyone who like me loves a bit of pop culture with their Christmas jumper. This post seriously did not help my desire though to buy the first jumper on the list, so please someone buy one of these and send me pictures so I can live vicariously through you (ha, ha).

While I may have missed Blogmas (is that a thing? I know Youtubers do Vlogmas) I do want to do some more Christmas themed posts to match my Christmas blog theme change (let me know your thoughts!) so please post suggestions because unsurprisingly I’m in a bit of a creative rut again. I’m thinking maybe some Harry Potter themed posts because Christmas will always be linked to Hogwarts for me.

April

Facebook: @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog

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Undercover Princess: Rosewood Chronicles Review

A book review of Connie Glynn (aka Noodlerella)’s debut novel, Undercover Princess (part of the Rosewood Chronicles series).

Yes I am as upset as you the book is crumpled in the main image. Welcome to my life. 

Lottie Pumpkin is an ordinary girl who longs to be a princess, attending Rosewood Hall on a scholarship.

Ellie Wolf is a princess who longs to be ordinary, attending Rosewood Hall to avoid her royal duties in the kingdom of Maradova.

When fate puts the two fourteen-year-olds in the same dorm, it seems like a natural solution to swap identities: after all, everyone mistakenly believes Lottie to be the princess anyway.

But someone’s on to their secret, and at Rosewood nothing is ever as it seems…

Warning some spoiler throughout but no major plot spoilers. 

Connie Glynn aka Noodlerella was probably one of the first Youtubers I started watching. First of all, she has mad cosplay skills, and second of all she did amazing impressions. Plus, I had serious envy over her travelling and Disney trip hauls. I’ve even met her at MCM London Comic Con but I was so nervous that I just blushed, attempted to make conversation, bought on of her prints, and then regretted not getting a photograph (also, if you’re wondering she was very nice).

Hello I want to say a little word about the book tour 🌹 This weekend saw my very first book tour and the first, for me, of any kind of venture of that sort. Firstly I'm utterly thrilled that my very first tour was for Undercover Princess, a book I've poured my soul into and cannot wait for everyone to read. Yet what really made this tour so special was how utterly wonderful you all were who came along. You were all so enthusiastic and asked such wonderful and intelligent questions, I was so proud of you all. The launch of Undercover Princess has been so positive and the feedback I've received so very heartwarming. Thank you not only to everyone who came along to the tour but everyone who sent a word of encouragement or enthusiasm. One final thank you to my incredible team at penguin and my amazing manager who have made this a really joyful time for not only me, but hopefully all of you as well. Thank you thank you thank you, from the bottom of my heart and I hope you enjoy the book. I can't wait to share more with you soon 🌹🌹

A post shared by Connie Glynn (@noodlerella) on

The book appears to be mainly targeted for teenagers, as I’m assuming that is Connie’s main audience. On Amazon the age range suggested for the book is between 10-17 years old. I’d argue that for me at least the novel definitely hits more towards the lower range of that age scale in terms of tone. In fact, it has been the longest time since I’ve read anything that was not conclusively marketed at adults, so it was quite refreshing and made me want to get back into reading YA (Young Adult) fiction again.

While the book I admit started a bit slow for me; once I got into the book it was very much a page turner. Lottie and Ellie’s friendship was the driving force of the novel, and if I was not mistaken (mild, maybe spoiler alert) there was hints that the spark between them might be on the romantic side. There are at least hints if Ellie’s furious remarks about not liking boys or being into them are anything to go on that maybe her sexual preferences lay elsewhere. To be honest, if Lottie does turn out to be a bisexual protagonist (it has made conclusive she likes men at least in the first novel) that would be amazing and would really make the series stand out for me.

Another thing that really concreted the novel was the beautiful descriptions of Rosewood Hall or any surrounding for that matter. Everything was just magical, and you can really feel yourself in the surroundings and part of the action. The same could be said for the writing. For me though I definitely could see how it was written by someone in our generation by the numerous references to other things, such as evil Stepmothers, numerous explicit Cinderella references, references to Harry Potter by that the school houses (though this is common within British schools, especially Boarding Schools so I don’t really think Harry Potter has complete domain of that), as well as the way the boarding school is depicted.

Although, when I was younger I would have been completely taken in by the romance of the boarding school, now that I’m older and a bit more cynical- I see some of the more flaws in the system, such as the elitism of the subjects chosen, and the overwhelming pressure to perform.

Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that the story has definite charm, and I will be reading the next book in the series. I love the different Houses and would love to know what house I would be in (I also love that there is a quiz to determine what house students are in before arriving, a bit less magical than a Sorting Hat but brilliant).

The houses for those of you who don’t know are as follows:

There is the Ivy House (colour purple) who stand for the Righteous part of the school motto. The other houses are the Conch House (colour red) who stand for the Resolute part of the school motto. Finally, there is the Stratus house who stand for the Resourceful part of the school motto.

 

Stratus pin badge!!! Really hope these go up for sale at some point. 

I’m not really sure which house I would be put into but I suspect probably either Ivy  or Stratus depending on my mood. As I either like to observe everything or try to do what is right (even if I don’t always succeed). I’m waiting for someone to make up a Rosewood Hall house quiz, so I can know for sure (I would do it but it would be ridiculously bad).

I am also excited to see where some of the unresolved plot points are going to go with this novel. Especially, in regards to a certain friendship Lottie has been neglecting. There was also a scene that I think was brushed off to easily within the novel, but was actually depicted as something really quite predatory (though they did get a good smack), and should have been exposed as such a bit more. I don’t really want to say anymore and give the plot away, but if you have read the novel let me know your thoughts.

If you’re looking for a book for someone around 10-14 they’ll probably love this as a Christmas present, and bonus it has no idolisation of any particular body types, like a lot of teenage romances I read growing up seemed to have (you know what I mean, they think they’re bodies just ‘normal’, but it’s revealed they are incredibly attractive, etc.).

Overall, this is a charming little read, and Connie can certainly write. Here’s hoping that the next instalment carries on the mystery, pumps up the romance, and ties up the plot points mentioned in the first novel. Like, the cover of the novel, it is a story firmly rooted in being a magical, beautiful getaway. This novel is definitely one for when you want to drift away from reality for a little bit.

P.S. Apologises for not mentioning a lot about the other characters; I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers. 

April

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Anti Bullying Week: My experiences and what I’ve learnt

It’s anti bullying this week so I thought it’d be an apt time to jump on the bandwagon as it were and discuss my experiences with bullying. I’ve been bullied on several different occasions and at times although I didn’t fully realise at the time I have engaged in bullying behaviour. I think a lot of the times this is something we are scared to admit about ourselves so instead will only talk about the real, horrible cases of bullying, rather than the day to day routine behaviour we saw (or even participated in) that we didn’t realise could have lasting effects as well.

Dodie’s bravery in talking about bullying in her latest book (my review for which can be found here), and how she had engaged in it too because she was afraid, and it was easier, helped to inspire me to speak up about this. The reason she gave of being afraid the conversation would turn to herself instead is really my reason as well. From what I can remember from my hazy memories, my bullying behaviour was joining in with nicknames and not thinking about the consequences. Behaviours I thought was teasing but added to the persona of a person, and didn’t let them define themselves on their own terms. If the people I did this to (I don’t think the list is long but it’s probably longer than I’d like to think) are reading this I’m sorry I went along with the crowd. Sure, I might have not been the loud voice egging people on, but that doesn’t mean I am not guilty. At the time I didn’t even realise but looking back now I know this behaviour matters.

I know how bullying makes you feel. Even the little comments can feel like a heart attack to your nerves. Usually when I’ve been bullied they picked up the easy part to latch on to, which is that I was chubbier than the other children in the age group. Or when I was a teenager and not the weight I was made to feel but because I never had the part where I could eat and nothing be there (not that there is anything wrong with that). I was made to feel like my body could never fit in. It was easy for them to latch on to my body because society told them everywhere it was not desirable. It was easy to latch on to because I knew this, and was insecure about it. I also wouldn’t fight back.

Now I’d like to think I wouldn’t let it not touch me but I’m not impenetrable. It still would. Then, they probably didn’t realise that their tiny comment was all I thought about every minute of the day. What it would be like when I was smaller. When was food, what I should eat (or not eat) to achieve this.

This is still not something I think will ever escape me, but it has dropped down my priority levels now so that my day is more than that. I’ve never made negative comments about people’s weight or appearance or tried to belittle them in that way, but the little bits of behaviour I was complicit in could have effected someone in the same way.

My message from this then is that you may think because you’re not a bully (or the stereotypical definition of one) that you’re behaviour is in fact not bullying type behaviour. Before, you dismiss something as teasing let yourself really think about whether they are in on the joke or not.

I forgave my bullies/ antagonists a long time ago. They just weren’t worth the effort. I think in the end they realised they had been as wrong about me as I’d been about them. Everyone just never bothered to get to know anyone, and just stuck to their labels.

Maybe it’s about time we throw those labels and preconceptions away. It’s hard and you have to be strong to resist the crowd (and when you’re going through your own insecurities that is damn near impossible). I used to get so wound up about the people who didn’t like me for seemingly no particular reason and wondered what was fundamentally wrong with me to make that so. Now, I know sometimes people just don’t click (though they didn’t need to ignore me though or make it obvious though- just saying) and you’ll never please everyone.

I don’t know what I would have done growing up if social media defined my life and my experiences as much as it does this generation growing up now (perfect Instagram photographs at every corner would have definitely sent me into a talespin) so anyone growing up with that as my upmost respect. Especially as words online cut as deep as any that come out of people’s mouths.

This anti-bullying week join me in reflecting over your past behaviour, and seeing how you can be better moving forward. Be the second thought that comes into your head, not the judgemental first one that you didn’t even consciously decide.

Faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust: doing things that scare me

Image: A screen capture from Peter Pan/ Walt Disney 

The other week I did something I’ve never done before. I swapped an item with someone on the internet. In fact, we swapped a hat for a hat. My Lazy Oaf x Marie baseball cap for her Lazy Oaf Red Faux Fur Heart beret both of which are not easily able to find, and generally sold out everywhere on ine.

Now, first of all I want to say that I am in no way saying go send people you don’t know your items and that you can trust anyone. This was a risk. Don’t mistake that. A calculated risk yes because they showed me pictures of their item and had very good positive feedback on Depop. But it was a risk nonetheless. For both us.

I’m happy to say that in this case we were both people who genuinely wanted the other person to have an item I loved, and I have received the beret (really fast actually!) and their Marie baseball cap has made it’s way to its new owner!

Lazy Oaf April Beret

An awkward picture of me wearing the beret.

The point of this story is not that you should trust strangers, but that this was a risk for me. Something, that would usually result in lots of panicking, and worrying about posting the item before they did. Worry that for some reason the item wouldn’t get to them, or vice versa. And while I did still worry a little bit. It was a lot less than usual, which I have to count as a small victory.

When people say do things that scare you, so often people think you automatically have to go to massive gestures, like skydiving, but I think gradually building up to bigger, and bigger things that make you nervous is probably the best route. Sure, I do a lot of things that scare me daily, as even something as little as sending an email to a colleague, no matter the content, is something I pause about in my head a little. I think though having to do this daily has drilled the fear of emailing out of me a lot, which I’m grateful for.

Yes, I put myself out there a lot in a few aspects of my life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t agonise other it or worry about it each time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you are like me and the things you think of before bed are usually your worries for the day, and if you’re someone that if something goes wrong you will agonise and obsess over it to the point that it feels like the end of the world, and you can never get out of this mess you’ve created, then I understand.

I don’t think this is something that will ever be fully out of my life. And getting rejected does suck (trust me I know). But every once in a while you’ll get a piece of good news. An article you wrote will get a like (that’s literally enough to make my day, ha, ha). Unfortunately, you have to fight through a lot of panic inducing moments to get those little points. So start small. Take a little risk. Distract yourself from it. See what happens. If it went well, great, try a slightly bigger one. If it goes bad, try to breathe. Try not to push everyone away. Easier said than done, I know I’m incredibly guilty of this. Sit down absorb yourself in something to calm down, and start over. Try again with something small.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the big risks in life. I genuinely cannot ever see myself skydiving for example, or riding one of those ridiculous, over the top rollercoasters (don’t even get me started how panicky rollercoasters make me) but maybe I’ll have the courage to tweet someone important an article I’ve written, and be unashamedly proud of my work.

Though I’m not going to lie I could use a little pixie dust every now and again.

🍂April🍂

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