Thursday, 30 April 2015

April Reads & Reviews

april books
Books marked with a * c/o Netgalley

My first completed read of the month was James Dawson's latest release Under My Skin. Just like his other novels I really loved the horror element and unique idea behind the book which tells the story of Sally and the pin-up girl tattoo who takes over her life. Continuing on with the theme I also finally find time to read Dawson's debut novel Hollow Pike (2012). In this novel the horror element is based around the interesting subject of witchcraft and again, I really enjoyed it. If you haven't picked up any of Dawson's books yet I would definitely recommend them!

Having found that the first two books in the PLL series didn't quite live up to their TV adaptation, nor Shepard's Lying Game novels, I decided to try out another of her series that's set to become a TV show. In true Shepard style The Perfectionists (2014) follows a group of teens who become involved in a story that entangles mystery with murder and secrets. I have a full review of this one coming up on Blogger's Bookshelf next month, so keep an eye out if you want to hear more about it!

The only Netgalley title I read in April was a new middle grade horror release from author R. L. Stine who is best known for his popular Goosebumps series. Don't Stay Up Late is his latest offering from the new Fear Street reboot and follows Lisa as she starts a babysitting job in the infamous area. Again, I have a review of this one coming up on Blogger's Bookshelf next month if you want to find out more!

The final completed book I have to talk about this month is Bruiser (Neal Shusterman, 2010). Ever since falling in love with Unwind I've been keen to explore more of Shusterman's writing outside of the popular dystopian series so decided to pick up Bruiser. Just like the Unwind Dystology the book has a really unique concept, telling the tale of Brewster who has the ability to take on the pain of the people he cares about. Although I didn't love the book as much as Unwind it was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read and I'll definitely be reading more of Shusterman's novels in future.

Speaking of Unwind (2007), I also managed to make a start on re-reading the first in my favourite dystopian series this month. I'll be sharing a separate post on this one soon as part of my challenge updates series!

Reviews posted in April... We All Looked Up, Tommy Wallach (2015) | The Jewelry Recipe Book, Nancy Soriano (2015)

What did you read this month?
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Monday, 27 April 2015

Handmade Cards By Oh Squirrel

oh squirrel cards

Earlier this month I met up with Skye & Ria and headed off to look at all of the beautiful handmade goodies on sale at Renegade Craft Fair. Although I didn't make many purchases (there were so many lovely homeware pieces - which sadly I had to resist as I don't have my own place to decorate yet!) today I wanted to share these cute little birthday cards I picked up from Oh Squirrel.

Cards were one of the items I was on the lookout for at the event as there are so many awesome ones out there and it's always handy to have a good selection stashed away - you never know when you'll need a nice card! I was drawn to these designs in particular as I loved the pastel patterned backgrounds and the use of vintage stamps to create one-of-a-kind cards, although I must admit the fact that they are each unique meant I did spend quite a while looking through them all trying to decide on which ones to get!

You can find packs of these stamp cards along with lots of other goodies over in the Oh Squirrel Etsy shop.

oh squirrel cards 1
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Friday, 24 April 2015

5 Reasons Why I Love Hart Of Dixie



I've been a big fan of Dixie since it's 2011 pilot episode, and have mentioned it here many times over the last few years. As the fourth season recently concluded (with a sugary sweet ending!) and a fifth season looking unlikely amidst all the cancellation rumours, what better time to dedicate a post to one of my all-time favourite shows?! Here's five reasons why I love Hart Of Dixie...

1. The Wardrobes
Not only does Dixie make me smile (I'm watching an old season 1 episode as I write this post!) but it has also helped to shape my blog's current content by inspiring me to create regular Character Style posts! This series is one of the most popular I have created here at e-elise etc over the years and it's all thanks to the various posts I've shared on Zoe's amazing wardrobe. The show also features another one of my all-time favourite character wardrobe's belonging to southern belle Lemon Breeland.

2. The Town
From the moment Zoe steps of the bus in Alabama it's clear that the setting and scenery on the show are going to be beautiful. From the pier to the Mayor's plantation and the town's central bandstand this southern setting feels homely and comforting right from the pilot - I wish BlueBell was a real town so I could move there!

Also found in BlueBell are some great local business such as the Butter Stick bakery, Fancie's fine-dining restaurant, The Dixie Stop convenience store and of course, the Rammer Jammer - a restaurant and bar that's host to many of the town's events (with an exterior that will be familiar to any True Blood or Pretty Little Liars fans!). Whilst doing a little fact-checking research for this post I also discovered that the fictional town of BlueBell does in fact have it's own official town website complete with blog posts - fancy!


3. The Unique Celebrations 
There's always something to celebrate or an unusual event to attend in BlueBell, which helps set Dixie apart from other TV shows. Whether it be the annual Gumbo Cook-Off, the Turtle Derby, the Founder's Day Parade, a zombie-themed proposal (pictured below), BlueBellapalooza or even Planksgiving - BlueBell's unique version of Thanksgiving where everyone traditionally dresses up as pirates (pictured above) - it may be a small town but BlueBell certainly isn't a dull place to be!
 
4. The Music
Although Dixie isn't a show about musicians, music still features heavily in the series with performances from both regular cast members and guest artists, as well as some great background tracks showcasing many country artists. I can't talk music without mentioning the whole town musical number (a cover of Needtobreathe's The Heart) from the end of season four, which was a perfect example of the important role music plays in the show. A word of warning though - don't watch this if you don't want to know how all of the character's stories conclude, it's spoiler-filled!

5. The Characters & Casting
Of course I couldn't write about the show without including the thing that really makes it so great - the lovable cast of characters who live in BlueBell. The residents of the town are all like one huge family, even Burt Reynolds, Lavon's pet alligator, is somewhat of a charming character!

Right from the pilot episode I've loved getting to know these characters and watching them evolve over the series. If I had to choose a favourite character it would definitely be Lavon, BlueBell's ex-football player turned mayor, but honestly Dixie is one of those rare shows where I really like all of the characters.

So there you have it, five reasons why Hart Of Dixie is one of my favourites! Are you a Dixie fan?

hart of dixie
Image source
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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Character Style Inspiration - Mona Vanderwaal (Pretty Little Liars)

For today's Character Style I'm revisiting one of the most stylish shows on TV, Pretty Little Liars, to take a closer look at the wardrobe of the Liar's long-time "frenemy" Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish).

Similarly to her BFF Hanna Marin, Mona's style is frequently evolving meaning that it's pretty tricky to pinpoint her 'signature' outfits. For today's selection I've looked at some of the themes that run through Mona's wardrobe over the show's five seasons and have tried to pick out a selection of items that I think represent key features of her ever-changing style.

Mona definitely isn't afraid of a bold pattern and has been known to sport both a fluorescent leopard print sweatshirt as well as various pairs of coloured floral jeans. In more recent episodes she can be seen pairing these skinny jeans with peplums or simple tops and strappy sandals, a look that shows how much her confidence has grown and is far-removed from the days where she was known as 'Loser Mona'.

When it comes to accessories and embellishments Mona is well-known for her love of Peter Pan collars, waist belts and heels. She also usually opts for the extremes when it comes to earrings choosing either a bold statement pair or simple pearl studs.

Shop The Look: | Vintage Detail Dress, House Of Fraser £229 | Strappy Sandals, Simply Be £35 | Washed Floral Print Jeans, Asda £16 | Bright Blue Jamie Jeans, Topshop £40 | Collar Necklace, Net-A-Porter £85 | Bird Print Peter Pan Collar Top, Simply Be £22 | Leopard Print Sweater, The Outnet £95 | Zebra Leather Belt, Mango £24.99 | Salmon Pink Shirt, Yoox £169 | Ditsy Floral Dress, Debenhams £35 | Headband, Forever 21 £2 | Cardigan, John Lewis £45 | Faux Pearl Stud Earrings, Bloomingdales £19.76

Images of Janel Parrish via imdb.com 

Love Pretty Little Liars? Check out my other Character Style posts: Spencer Hastings | Hanna Marin | Aria Montgomery | Emily Fields
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Monday, 20 April 2015

#PaperHaul - The Balloon One

#paperhaul box april 2015
Disclaimer: I purchased this box using the #paperhaul blogger discount - all opinions are my own.

Another month, another beautiful selection of goodies from #paperhaul! As you can see the theme for April is balloons and the box is filled with colourful stationery treats perfect for the winter to spring transition.

April's notecards feature a simple bunch of colourful balloons whilst the two greetings cards are both text-free making them suitable for any occasion. This month's sticker sheet is filled with pretty pastel-toned hot air balloons, and as always the postcard selection includes something for everyone with three very different illustrations.

This month's washi tape also reflects the celebratory theme of the box with a brightly coloured circle print that would be brilliant for wrapping gifts or making your own gift tags. If DIY-ing isn't your thing the box also includes another adorable set of illustrated gift tags this time featuring various animals holding balloons which I think will be perfect for any upcoming birthdays.

Just like last month I'm finding it tricky to choose a favourite item from the selection but am most looking forward to using the hot air balloon print craft papers and of course the cute gift tags. I've also already put the washi tape to good use decorating pages in my new planner!

If you're interested in treating yourself to the next #paperhaul box you can sign up over at Crafty Creatives for just £10 per month.

Don't forget to catch up on my review of last month's box - The Striped One!

paperhaul april 2015 balloons 2 paperhaul april 2015 balloons 1
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Monday, 13 April 2015

YA Love Magazine

yalovemag1

Today I wanted to share a quick post to let you know about a brilliant new online magazine which launched last week. YA Love Magazine is a new venture created by Christina (of Passion Obsession & part of our team over at Blogger's Bookshelf) and is an online magazine for lovers of all things YA!

Showcasing the latest book releases, TV & film reviews, news and much more, Christina has done an amazing job putting together the website. I'm also happy to announce that I will be contributing to YA Love Magazine on a regular basis - talking TV, film & penning some fun YA-inspired lists - and would love to see you all over there too!

If you're interested in talking all things YA, Christina is also looking for more contributors to join the team. You can contact admin@yalovemag.com for more information!
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Friday, 10 April 2015

Behind The Scenes - Character Style Posts

Recently I've been having fun putting together lots of new Character Style posts and it seems like you've been enjoying them too. With that in mind today I thought I would share a little behind the scenes feature on the process of creating this popular series!


1. Choosing A Character
First up is finding the right characters to feature, which isn't always as simple as it sounds. Back in 2013 when I started talking character style I chose to feature wardrobes like Zoe Hart's and Deb Morgan's purely because they were the kind of looks I would like to wear myself. Whilst I still enjoy showcasing the outfits of characters with styles I love, nowadays I also like to branch out, looking at any characters who have a distinctive style.

Whenever I watch a new TV show or film I'm always on the lookout for which character/s could be perfect to feature. For example, as soon as I saw Kimmy's bold, fun and colourful style on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt I just knew she would be a great fit for the series, despite the fact her wardrobe is nothing like my own.

2. Analysing Their Style
These days I tend to make notes on things such as particular items, recurring themes and colour palettes as I watch the episodes or film. You can see this technique in the screenshot below using Nashville's Juliette Barnes as an example.

To help me when it comes to sourcing the right items later on I also take to imdb or the show's official website for reference images to jog my memory. However in some cases, with films or shorter TV series, I source the clothing items as I watch and skip the note-making step altogether.

character style notes

3. Sourcing The Right Items
The next step is finding the perfect clothing items to feature in the final post. I usually start the search by reading back over my lists and looking for any items that I know I might be able to find at a particular shop. If there are any I usually source these first, crossing off the easiest items before moving on to those that are trickier to find.

For any other items I usually turn to Shopstyle which is a brilliant website to use if you're searching for something in particular. The website includes a search box where you can type in key words and be presented with items from a whole range of shops which saves visiting each website separately. You can also narrow down the results by price, colour etc so it makes it easy to find specific items. Another handy website for reference is Worn On TV where you can look up a particular character or TV show to find out where some of the actual clothing pieces are from.

4. Creating The Graphics
Next comes what is usually the most difficult part of the process; creating the final image. As you can see from the screenshot below I don't use any fancy software to create the images but usually stick with trusty old Powerpoint!

This step is just like doing a puzzle and it can often be tricky to fit all of the items together, and sometimes a few have to be discarded as they don't fit in. On the other hand, if I run out of items but still have gaps in the image I will then look back at photos or episodes to find the right type of item to fit the space/s.

style insp temp

5. The Writing
Once the image is ready to go it's time to work on the text for the post. Usually this includes a short summary of the character's style or a list of tips on how to recreate the look, followed by a full list of links to all of the items showcased in the post. Once I've proof-read the text and added in the image it's ready to press the publish button!

I hope you've enjoyed this little sneak peek into the process of creating Character Style posts! I have a few more currently in the works however if there is a particular character you'd like to see featured please leave a comment and let me know - I'm always looking for new ideas!
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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

DIY 'A' Necklace (Inspired By Pretty Little Liars)

pll a necklace diy tutorial 2

Following on from the recent season 5 finale of Pretty Little Liars I couldn't resist putting together a themed DIY project to share with you! This shrink plastic 'A' necklace is super easy to make and will help pass the time until season 6 begins in the summer.

You will need: a sheet of shrink plastic, a red pencil, a craft knife, a hole punch, an oven or heat tool, waxed cord, jump rings, a clasp, crimp ends, jewellery pliers

1. First, use a red pencil to draw out an A onto your sheet of shrink plastic. Then punch a hole above the top of the A - this will allow you to attach it onto your necklace

2. Next carefully cut around the letter then bake according to the instructions provided with your shrink plastic.

3. Once you have your finished pendant it's time to add it onto a necklace. Before doing this you can add a layer of glaze onto the plastic to protect it however this is an optional step.

4. To create a necklace like the one shown above cut a length of waxed cord and add a crimp onto each end. Attach on a clasp using your pliers and finally use a jump ring to hang the A pendant. Alternatively you can use a ready made necklace cord or chain.

Happy DIY-ing!

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Sunday, 5 April 2015

2015 Re-Read Challenge #3 - The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, Tim Burton (1993)

melancholy death of oyster boy

The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy & Other Stories is a 90's release from film director Tim Burton which features a collection of short poems and illustrations all with a macabre feel. Just like in his films the cast of characters we meet in these short stories are all outsiders, misunderstood because of how different they are.

My third re-read of the year was completely unplanned and if I'm being honest I had forgotten I even owned this book until I saw it sitting on my shelf last week! I first picked up the book whilst browsing the shelves at Forbidden Planet quite a few years back and remember being a little disappointed by it at the time. As it is such a short book with hardly any text, I thought it might be nice to set aside half an hour to re-read through it.

Second time around I actually found that it was certainly a more enjoyable read than I remembered it to be. The illustrations definitely won me over as I really love the style of them (although I am a fan of Burton's artwork in general) and the short rhyming stories made for an interesting read.

The one thing I wish had also been included is an introduction from the author, sharing more background information on how some of the short stories came to be and what inspired him to write them, but overall I'm pleased I stumbled across this forgotten title.

Don't forget to catch up on my previous re-read of the challenge; The Maze Runner!
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Friday, 3 April 2015

Character Style Inspiration - Juliette Barnes: On Stage vs Off-Duty (Nashville)


After enjoying working away on my Scarlett O'Connor style post back in September I thought it might be interesting to revisit this musical series and take a closer look at the style of another character; Hayden Panettiere's young country superstar Juliette Barnes.

In complete contrast to Scarlett's look, Juliette's wardrobe is much more structured, sparkly and features less sugary-sweet shades. Throughout the show we see Juliette on tour, at events, meetings and interviews as well as at home in her every day attire. So for today's post I'm looking at how Juliette's glitzy on stage outfits compare to her more casual and comfortable off-duty wardrobe.

Although they do contrast, there are of course some similarities between the two wardrobes with bold earrings, peplum tops and skinny trousers crossing over into both styles. There is also noticeable overlap with the colour palette as Juliette tends to opt for monochrome looks, and hints of red are also a recurring theme. Here's a closer look at Juliette's style...

Images of Hayden Panettiere via imdb.com

Juliette Barnes: On Stage
First up is the more glamorous and outgoing section of Juliette's wardrobe: her on stage outfits. Full of jewels, glitter, embellishments and all things sparkly Juliette's performance wardrobe is certainly designed to make a statement and suits her sassy personality perfectly. Many of her outfits follow a monochrome theme with gold and silver embellishments. Pops of colour such as bright red leather leggings and the odd all-white ensemble also feature.

Shop the look: V-Neck Sequin Dress, Oxygen Boutique £107.50 | Jewel Jacquard Top, John Lewis £21 | Sequin Skirt, Topshop £48 | Black Sequin Peplum Top, Quiz £9.99 | Red Leather Trousers, Zalando £295 | Cut-Out Lace Bodycon Dress, Topshop £46 | Stella McCartney Shiny Trousers, mytheresa £180 | Silver Strappy Heels, New Look £19.99 | Bustier Corset, Topshop £48 | White Leather Mini Dress, Stylebop £945 | Leather Shorts, Net-A-Porter £1325 | Studded Bustier Top, House Of Fraser £7 | Chandelier Earrings, Macy's £29 | Silk Halterneck Top, Matches Fashion £855 | Embroidered Top, John Lewis £60 | Shoe Boot, Harrods £495 | Glitter Belt, Lane Crawford £60

Juliette Barnes: Off-Duty
Although perhaps not as sparkly as her on stage looks, Juliette's off-duty wardrobe is still structured, polished and stylish. When out and about Juliette can be found sporting tailored tops with skinny jeans and heels, switching out the more fitted tops for casual sweaters when spending time at home. White and other light shades feature heavily in her off-stage looks with the odd pop of colour such as red cowboy boots or a floral shirt occasionally making an appearance.

Shop the look: Crochet Top, Van Mildert £30 | Navette Front & Back Earrings, Topshop £7.50 | Cowboy Boots, Amazon £53 | Biker Pants, H&M £24.99 | Ditsy Floral Shirt, Topshop £38 | Peplum Jacket, Topshop £49 | Fine-Knit Jumper, H&M £19.99 | Chiffon Top, Topshop £46 | Striped Sweater, Topshop £38 | Mini Dress, House Of Fraser £25 | Vintage Jamie Jeans, Topshop £40 | Leather Jacket, Harvey Nichols £500 | Alexander McQueen Skull Print Scarf, Selfridges £165 | Nude Pointed Pumps, Jimmy Choo £375 | Teardrop Earrings, Oliver Bonas £14 | Chilli Print Shirt, Topshop £38

Love Nashville? Check out my other Character Style posts: Maddie Conrad | Scarlett O'Connor
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