Thursday, 28 February 2013

February Reads


february reads  
Cover images from goodreads.com

vN, Madeline Ashby (2012) 
vN tells the story of Amy, a humanoid robot, who's life changes when one day her (robot) grandmother attacks her (robot) mother and Amy steps in to protect her. When Amy puts a stop to the attack by eating her grandmother she ends up carrying her around as a part of her memory and soon everyone is after her.
The concept and setting of vN were both pretty strange so I found it hard to concentrate on and quite confusing at times. Although I have seen the world-building praised by some readers I found it lacking and extremely difficult to believe in which is what I think led to my dislike of the book overall. Understanding the reasoning behind character’s decisions and motives wasn’t the easiest - I think this book will leave you with more questions than it answers! Speaking of the characters, I didn’t warm to any of them at all particularly Amy who's actions I found frustrating throughout. The fighting between her own mind and her Grandmother's reminded me somewhat of the two souls Addie/Eva trapped inside one body in Kat Zhang’s What’sLeft Of Me which I also didn’t enjoy very much. I thought the most interesting thing about the book was the cinematic feel of the writing. The chapters were written in a way that made the story seem like it would be well-suited to a film adaptation, which did leave me feeling that maybe if the same story were told through a series of striking film action sequences instead it may make an exciting and innovative piece which, although I wasn't that keen on the world of vN, I potentially may have enjoyed more. The book questions what it really means to be human and explores our fascination with creating robots that look and behave just as humans would. An interesting concept but with irritating characters, a sometimes confusing plot and a whole lot of unanswered questions, overall vN just wasn't what I wanted it to be. I wish I could give it a higher rating but the fact that I couldn't wait to get it finished and out of the way means its got to be a 1/5


Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1953)
Always a firm favourite to feature on ‘must-read’ lists Fahrenheit 451 is often considered one of the dystopian books that helped shape the genre as we know it today. The book centres around fireman Guy Montag in a world where a fireman’s job is to start fires rather than extinguish them. Montag has never questioned this until a chance meeting sparks his curosity and his world is changed.
I really don’t feel like I want to review such a thoroughly analysed and highly praised book so I won’t be going into depth with this one. Fahrenheit 451 is a favourite for literature studies and with it’s many metaphors and comments I can definitely understand why. The book is full of imaginative, interesting and sometimes controversial ideas but I felt it lacked something in the execution of these. What I did enjoy however was learning about how the novel came to be. The edition I read included an introduction from author Ray Bradbury detailing his writing process and how Fahrenheit 451 was born out of several short stories which were eventually joined together to form a short novel. Reading this additional information gave me an extra insight into the story and provided an explanation for why the story didn’t seem to flow that well at times and why the characters felt underdeveloped. I read the book fairly quickly and didn’t stop to dissect every little idea or phrase as I wasn’t reading it as a study. Read purely for entertainment I found Fahrenheit 451 disappointing but I do think it would be an interesting book to study in more depth 2/5

Also reviewed this month
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (2011) - click here for review
Cinder, Marissa Meyer (2012) - click here for review
Is It Just Me?, Miranda Hart (2012) - click here for review 

This month I also interviewed the lovely Heather, aka Bookables on YouTube - read the post here

I've now reached 11/52 books towards my 2013 challenge! Find me on Goodreads here
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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

High Street vs. High End - Silk Shirts

high st high end silk blouses shirts
 
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
 
Last year I picked up a lovely floral silk shirt from the Warehouse sale and found that it was the perfect item for a warm day. Since then I have been keeping an eye out for more silk shirt bargains but sadly there aren't very many to be found. However after seeing many a beautiful silk shirt featured in Hart of Dixie I thought they would be a great product to feature in the 'High Street vs. High End' series.

First up let's talk high street and what better place to start my search than Topshop. Arguably the most popular high street brand Topshop are great at producing high end inspired pieces which (whilst often still at the higher-priced end of high street!) are much more affordable for the average person. This blue and white floral print shirt is from their Boutique range and is the priciest piece from my high street picks. What makes it particularly unique is the collarless style, and whilst this one definitely isn't for me I think it would look good paired with a black skinny jean. Next up is a bright and bold floral number from Oasis which has plain black detailing on the collar, cuffs and concealing the buttons. Again, this isn't very me (I don't do orange!) but would also pair well with black jeans for a daytime or evening look. Finally this blue ombre style from Warehouse, my personal favourite and the cheapest of the three, finishes off my high street picks nicely. Although it could still be dressed up, the ombre gives it a slightly more casual feel which would be great for everyday wear in the summer months. The pocket detailing also adds something extra and makes the shape and style more similar to high end designs.

 Overall I would say that the high end designers are victorious when it comes to silk shirts, I have only picked out three here to show you but there were so many options to choose from (many more than on the high street!). My first pick is a fine stripe detailed blouse in blush, red and black by Proenza Schouler which is ridiculously expensive at £525. I'll admit I was swayed by the pale seafoam colour of the Alexander Wang shirt but the classic cut and large pocket detailing make this, in my opinion, the most wearable of the bunch. My final choice is a boldly printed monochrome shirt by Equipment, a brand that has been on my radar since the very beginning episodes of Hart Of Dixie where Rachel Bilson often sports their shirts. Although they have a huge range of colours and prints I went with this one as it is not only bang on trend with its' monochrome colour scheme but also incorporates another trend - the print is actually made up of tiny stud designs!

Who do you think does silk shirts best?
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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday DIY: Anthropologie Inspired Hairbands

diy hairbands 1

These simple colourful hair elastics have been popping up everywhere over the last year but have really been popularised by trend-setters Anthropologie. 
Personally I'd been wanting to try these for a while but as I have very long, quite thick and therefore heavy hair I was worried that they might not hold it in place all day. I've been wearing them everyday this week and surprisingly they work pretty well even on my heavy hair!

Another thing that put me off in the past was the price, they just seemed so expensive (£14 for 10 ties) for something that is very easy to DIY. Luckily the particular type of elastic used, named fold over elastic, is readily available in various colours, patterns and finishes online so I went straight to Etsy to pick some up.

I purchased my elastics from the shop Blossoms Supplies which is based in London and I would definitely recommend buying from them if you want to try out this DIY!
diy hairbands 2 diy hairbands 3

diy hairbands 4

I hope you've enjoyed this week's DIY. As always I'd love to hear from you if you try out this or any other project from my DIY Archive.

Font - KBSoThinteresting
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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bunny Snapshots #2

sawyer and scout 2 sawyer and scout 1
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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cybercandy Inspired Nails

cybercandy nail art
T-shirt c/o Cybercandy

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to design some nail art inspired by a selection of the products available on the Cybercandy website. It was definitely a challenge but as you can see I did manage to fill up a wheel with various designs ranging from fairly simple to quite detailed. 
You can see close up photographs of the designs and find out more about the products that inspired them by visiting the Cybercandy blog here.
 
Which design is your favourite?

Disclaimer: I was not asked by Cybercandy to write this post, I designed the nail art for their blog but wanted to share it here too as I put a lot of time and effort into the project. I was however kindly gifted the t-shirt pictured above as a thank you for my work :)
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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday DIY: Custom Spiked Shoes

diy spiked shoes

This week's DIY is a super quick way to update a pair of old shoes. Its really easy to do and the best part is this technique won't damage your shoes so if you decide you're bored of the studs you can just remove them! 

diy spiked shoes 1 diy spiked shoes 2 diy spiked shoes 3 diy spiked shoes 4 diy spiked shoes 5 diy spiked shoes 6  
Buy screw studs here

Will you be adding studs to your shoes this season?
 
Font - KBSoThinteresting
KB Fonts Button
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Friday, 15 February 2013

Chocolate & Honeycomb Cookies (Gluten Free)

chocolate honeycomb cookies gf

Thanks to Skye's gluten free cookie recipe (they're delicious!) I can now make a nice batch of cookies to snack on. I'd tried the classic dark and white chocolate chips already so this time I decided I would go for something a little different. For the chocolate honeycomb version all I did was follow Skye's basic recipe then added 2 tbsp of cocoa powder and some chopped up honeycomb pieces. I'm thinking about adding some popping candy or cinnamon to my next batch but if you have any flavour combination ideas please do leave them for me in the comments!

What is your favourite cookie flavour?
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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sunday DIY: Striped Tie Dye Technique

striped tie dye diy title

Following on from yesterday's feature on printed scarves I thought I would share a DIY technique for creating a striped tie dye effect which amongst other things could be used to make yourself a custom summer scarf. As you may be able to tell from the fact that these photographs are taken outside in the sunshine I actually did this DIY back when it was sunny (!) but never posted it. Even though it is trying to snow outside right now I hope that you enjoy the tutorial and will keep it in mind for the warmer weather.

striped tie dye diy step 1 striped tie dye diy step 2 striped tie dye diy step 3 striped tie dye diy step 4 striped tie dye diy step 5

If you have any questions about this DIY just leave them in the comments and I will get back to you & don't forget you can find a full list of e-elise etc DIY tutorials here

If you would like to see more scarf or fabric printing/dyeing ideas let me know!

*Font - Brain Flower
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Saturday, 9 February 2013

High Street vs. High End - Printed Scarves

Lightweight printed scarves are a great accessory for the warmer months so I thought they would be perfect for a High St vs. High End feature as a reminder to all my UK readers that even though it might be cold right now, summer is on it's way! (Wishful thinking....?)
Anyway, here are my ten choices for printed scarves to brighten up your summer outfits this year.
high street printed scarves
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
 
First up are my lower priced picks which range from a tiny supermarket £5 up to (a still reasonable) £33. Although it isn't really shown in the image the Topshop scarf actually has an illustrated fox print in a bold orange shade. Animal prints have been popular throughout A/W and it seems they're going to be sticking around for the warmer months too. The delicate print and colours of the Fat Face scarf are perfect for S/S but if pastels aren't your thing it is also available in a deeper navy colourways as well. The most expensive of the bunch is the Snowfall print scarf by Becksondergaad but with such a versatile colour and simple print it would be easy to pair with any outfit. For something bolder I've chosen a bright Paisley print piece by Mango which as modelled on the website will dress up a plain white t-shirt perfectly. Finally the bargain of the five is a thin heart print scarf by George at ASDA. I think the metallic print on a nude scarf would actually be a great DIY project but with the expense of fabrics and when you can buy one (with your weekly shop!) for just £5 its hardly worth attempting your own version!

high end printed scarves 
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
 
Looking at my high end picks all nicely lined up you can definitely see how much more luxurious the fabrics are, but for prices all in excess of £150 they should be! First up is an Art-Deco inspired piece by Moschino which mixes bold stripes with photographic images and pops of colour making it the most unique of my choices. Next is a text print scarf from Faliero Sarti, mainly monochrome with just an accent of red its a little more subtle then the rest of the high end scarves. Of course I couldn't not include a bright floral print and this one by Erdem is perfect for a sunny day. My personal favourite of the five, the Faliero Sarti butterfly print, is bold with a slightly different take on the animal print trend. To finish off I've chosen a classic fashion piece that's been popular for a while now - the Alexander McQueen skull print scarves which are available in various different colour combinations to suit any style.
 
Which scarf is your favourite?

Don't forget to check back for tomorrow's DIY post where I will be showing you a tie dye technique which could be used to customise your own summer scarf!
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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Is It Just Me?

is it just me review

I'm sure most of you will be aware of Miranda's self-titled sitcom which has just concluded it's third series and as a fan of the show this is a book that had been on my to-read list since it’s release. So, when Is It Just Me? finally arrived for me at the library last week I started reading straight away.

Each chapter focuses on a different relatable subject; from music to culture and beauty to weddings so there is a great variety of topics in this ‘something for everyone’ book. Miranda chooses to address the reader directly, even endearingly referring to them as 'my dear reader chum', or 'MDRC', and this friendly, informal tone fits perfectly with the point of the book. Interestingly Miranda chooses to include conversations with her 18 year old self, aka ‘Little M’, throughout the book which is a unique concept I have not come across before. In each chapter she includes input and opinions from Little M alongside her own thoughts as an adult and it is very interesting to see how things have changed. There are several ‘pit stops’ along the way which add an additional, although unnecessary, interactive element. The book also contains a scattering of simple line illustrations, reminiscent of those found in Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops, which break up the text nicely and provide a little extra entertainment. 

A particular favourite chapter for me was Technology where amongst other things Miranda tries to explain mobile phones, email and digital cameras to Little M. Even though I’m obviously not the same age as Miranda its still very easy to forget that not that long ago these everyday things we don’t think twice about now didn’t exist, I mean without the Internet and a laptop I wouldn’t be writing this! The pets chapter was also something I related to as it includes a typical ‘conversation’ between Miranda and her dog Peggy as Miranda confesses that she believes she knows what Peggy is thinking and what she would say if she really could speak. I can also confess that I too like to think I know what Sawyer and Squidge are thinking, so no Miranda its not just you.

The book carries a ‘be yourself and don’t care what anyone else thinks’ style message which concludes nicely in the final chapter. Throughout the book Miranda doesn’t ever take herself too seriously and is happy to make fun of her own mishaps, habits and phrases, and lots of those you will recognise if you watch her sitcom. On that note there is a little recycling but not so much that it becomes an issue or makes the book any less enjoyable. 

Is It Just Me? is a quick and easy read that is light-hearted and entertaining overall. The only thing I really have to compare it to is fellow comedienne Ellen DeGeneres’ Seriously…I’m Kidding which similarly comments on everyday things rather than being a straightforward biography. If you’re a fan of Miranda’s television show then you’re bound to enjoy this book 4/5

4stareee 

Don't forget to visit Blogger's Bookshelf for more reviews!
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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Five Favourites: Snoopy at Uniqlo

snoopy for uniqlo
 Images from Uniqlo.com

For this edition of 'Five Favourites' I thought I would do something a little different and when I saw the Peanuts/Snoopy collection for Uniqlo I was inspired to show you my favourite pieces. The collection is in my opinion one of the best Uniqlo collaborations so far. The range of t-shirts, for both men and women, feature cute illustrations from the Snoopy cartoons and include all of the well known characters. Of the five t-shirts pictured above the top row are selected from the women's section, and the bottom row from the men's.

If Snoopy & co. aren't your thing they also currently have Pixar (men's only) & Disney t-shirt collections featuring beautiful illustrations. If you prefer bold prints collaboration with designer Orla Kiely might appeal to you.

Which is your favourite Snoopy tee?
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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Hart Of Dixie Signature Makeup: Zoe vs. Lemon

Instead of fashion today's post is focusing on a different part of Hart Of Dixie's styling, Zoe and Lemon's signature makeup looks. 
 
  Images via Chanel, Ulta, Urban Decay & The CW

In a recent interview with OK! USA Hart Of Dixie's principal makeup artist Joni Powell revealed which products she uses to create Zoe's favourite smoky eye look on Rachel Bilson.
When asked about how to perfect the smoky eye she named her current favourite products as Chanel Illusion D'Ombre in Mirifique (£23) a shimmery cream shadow applied all over the lid, Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Gunmetal (£14) for liner finished off with a generous helping of Texaslash Mascara by Cargo ($21/£13) and some individual false lashes.
Joni also suggested completing the look with a nude lip shade using one of the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks (£24) which give a sheer, glossy colour (shade pictured above is 41 Canotier).
 
lemon breeland signature makeup
Images via Nordstrom, Too Faced, Urban Decay, Tarte & The CW

As well as discussing Zoe's look Joni also revealed which products she uses to create Lemon's bold red lip. She named her favourites as Tarte's Lipsurgene in Lust ($24/£15) and Tom Ford Private Blend lipsticks in both Cherry Lush and Slander (£32 each).
Recently Jaime King also showcased some of the products used to create Lemon's look when she posted a series of videos on Vine. Products shown in the videos included Too Faced Size Queen Mascara ($21/£13), Anastasia's Brow Powder Duo (£15), Urban Decay's popular Naked 2 palette (£36) and Bobbi Brown's Long Wear Gel Eyeliner (£14).

You can find both Joni & Jaime on Twitter - @joni101 @Jaime_King

Whose signature look do you prefer?
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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday DIY: Dinosaur Photo Holder

dinosaur photo holder diy

There seems to have been a lot of plastic toy DIYs popping up online recently so I thought this week I would attempt one myself. These little dinosaur photograph holders don't take long to make and all you need is some spray paint, a craft knife/saw and of course a plastic toy of your choice.

The first step is to cut a line through the toy for the photograph to sit in. If your toy is fairly small you'll be able to use a craft knife like I did but in some cases a junior hacksaw may work better.

Once you've tested it to see if the photograph will fit you can go ahead and paint the toy in the colour of your choice, then once its dry you can display your photograph, simple!

 My main tip for this DIY would be to make sure you choose a spray paint that is suitable for plastics or if necessary make sure you pick up a plastic primer as well. I had a little trouble with this DIY because the spray paint I picked up really wasn't designed for plastics like this one. Alternatively you can use an emulsion or nail polish to paint your toys!

How do you display your favourite photographs? 

Don't forget, if you try this or any other DIYs from the archive I'd love to hear from you!
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