The Black House – Peter May

As you all know from my many other book reviews, I’m not really a crime fiction enthusiast. However, my dad recommended that I read The Black House so I delved into the world of Scottish crime for the first time this year.

The Black House follows Fin McLeod as he tries to solve a murder on the Isle of Lewis which appears to be connected to a murder in Edinburgh. After struggling to come to terms with the death of his child, McLeod now faces returning to his childhood home and all the memories that come with returning to the island, whether those memories are good or bad. As McLeod tries to solve the murder, he has to question whether the people he grew up with are capable of murder.

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What I liked the most about this book was that although the book is primarily about solving crime, that’s not all the novel is about. Throughout The Black House, in a series of flashbacks, you’re told about Fin’s childhood and what it was like growing up on the Isle of Lewis. I’ve rarely experienced that extra dimension of character building in a crime novel before and I must admit, I loved learning more about the culture on the island. I’ve been to Lewis on holiday previously, which was why my dad recommended this book, and the setting was definitely my favourite part of reading.

The characters are very well developed throughout the plot, again, I think the flashbacks really add to the development of not only Fin, but of Artair and Marsaili as well. I found myself wanting to pick the book up and read, so I flew through the novel fairly quickly and it definitely held my interest the entire time. Without spoiling the ending of the book for anyone who may want to read it, I will say that I most definitely did not see the twist towards the end coming. Which is exactly what you want from a good crime novel!

Crime isn’t my favourite genre, but I did enjoy reading The Black House. Having said that, I didn’t enjoy the book that much that I want to continue on with the series. 3 out of 5 stars.

 

A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E Schwab

This is yet another book that I purchased on a whim after hearing Regan, from Peruse Project, raving about it on her YouTube channel. I will admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve last read a book about magic, and I don’t know why I’ve left it this long. I love magic, and I particularly love YA magic novels.


A Darker Shade of Magic is a great magical fantasy novel, which follows Kell as he travels between three different versions of London with messages for the rulers of each realm. After he bumps into and is robbed by Lila, and ultimately saves him from someone after his life, they team up together to help save all the Londons.

I loved this book, I just think I would have enjoyed it a little more in my teens than I did in my twenties. The characters are well developed, I did fall a little bit in love with Kell (even with his black magical eye) and I found myself routing for Kell and Lila the whole way through the book. I found the aspect of the different London’s really interesting, I would have liked a little more development of the other ‘realms’, particularly Grey London as you find out very little about the ‘realms’ other than meeting their rulers. However, the storyline was gripping and I was hooked within a couple of chapters of reading.

I will definitely be continuing with series at some point in the year, and I will be looking forward to it.

Four of out Five stars.

 

Winter Skincare

I know everyone complains about their skin in winter, this year my skin has been terrible. It’s so dry from my workplace and from outdoor activities and I cannot seen to get it moisturiser and feeling healthy. I’ve been spotty recently as well so I thought I would do a little blog post updating you of all the changes to my skincare routine.

As throughout the summer months, I’ve been using my trusty Simple cleanser and toner in the morning to clean my face before doing my make-up.

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I’ve also been using the Simple Oil Balancing Moisturiser in the morning to try to combat my spot bteakouts. I love this moisturiser and it leaves my skin feeling super soft in the morning. Then I do my make up as normal.

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I’ve stopped using my facewash every morning, but instead use it only when I shower (every other day) and when I use the facewash, I skip cleansing and toning as I find that makes my skin breakout more. However, on days where I have been using a facewash, I’ve been sticking to Simple’s oil balancing one.

At night time, I’ve changed my routine a lot. I’ve started using a lot more products at night to try and get my skin feeling and looking healthy again. Firstly, I’ve changed to using Clinique’s Take The Day Off cleansing balm to remove my make up. I love how fresh, clean and soft this makes my face feel and since I’ve started using it, I’ve noticed my breakouts have calmed down a little. What I also like about the cleansing balm is that you use a washcloth to remove the balm so I’m using a lot less disposable face pads and it doesn’t feel so harsh on my skin.

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Next, I’ve been using Superdrug’s facial oil, which smells amazing and leaves my skin feeling incredible. Even in the morning, my skin is feeling more hydrated! What I like about the oil is that although it is an oil, it’s not too greasy and it doesn’t leave a residue like a few of the other facial oils I’ve tried.

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Then comes my No.7 night cream. My sister raved about the New No.7 night creams to me a while ago and I thought I would pick one up and see if it was any good. I love it, although I am not overly keen on the smell of the cream. However, I can get over that when it leaves my skin feeling so soft and healthy.

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For the rest of my body, I’ve been using my trusty Aveeno body lotion which is always my go to moisturiser. I have always been and will always be a loyal Aveeno lover. I swear by the stuff.

It seems to be working so far, I feel like my skin is healthier and it certainly feels a lot softer. I’ve been using my new products and routine for a couple of weeks now so the breakouts haven’t cleared fully, but I am hoping the spots will soon disappear.

*Disclaimer, this post is not sponsored by any brands, all opinions are my own and the products are my genuine favourites

Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

I’ve been thinking about how to write this book review, because I love Giovanna Fletcher, as a human, as a YouTuber and as an author. But I just didn’t enjoy Always With Love. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Billy and Me and I can’t say that I was very excited about reading the sequel. However, I don’t want to come across as mean or hateful in this review.

I love romance and chick lit, but this book and it’s prequel Billy and Me are not my cup of tea. I didn’t find the story appealing, I didn’t connect very well with the characters and I wasn’t gripped by the writing. I took forever to read this book, because I couldn’t find the urge to pick the book up and read.

My main problem with Always With Love, and Billy and Me is the character of Billy. He’s not my idea of a romantic interest; the relationship between Billy and Sophie is not healthy, there is very little trust and respect between the two of them and it annoys me so much. I don’t ‘desire’ to have Billy as a boyfriend, I wouldn’t even want him as a friend. They way that Sophie and Billy treat each other is exceptionally immature.

That’s all I’m going to say about Billy and Me because the more I think about it, the more problems I find with the book. I’m sure plenty of people will have loved this book, it just wasn’t for me. Having said that, I love Giovanna Fletcher’s other novels and I would highly recommend Dream a Little Dream to every reader!

February TBR 

Well, we’re one month into 2017 already. This year is going to fly by, I can tell. Here’s what I am aiming to read this upcoming month: 

Charlotte’s Web – E.B White: this is one of the books that I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read. It’ll be a quick and easy read to get the reading month started. 

Books I Need to Read in 2017

I’m sure you all know the struggles of being a bookworm and having a huge TBR pile, you forget about books that you’ve had for years and instead buy new ones to read. Or is that just me? There are so many books that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading on my TBR pile and I feel like 2017 is the year to tackle them. I’ve set myself a goal of reading 30 books this year, and I’m going to name 10 books that I want to read before the year is out to try and tackle my ever growing TBR pile.

Lone Wolf – Jodi Picoult: Nicole, why have you still not read this book? It’s the only Jodi Picoult book that I haven’t read and that is not acceptable! Get on it woman!

The Railway Man – Eric Lomax: I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages as well, after my mum recommended it and watching the film.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society– Mary Ann Shaffer: Okay, so this would be a reread, but I’ve not read this book since I joined Goodreads which is unacceptable. We all know how much I love World War stories!

The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson – seriously, why have I not picked this up yet? Well, I have but then I got distracted and put it down again.

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins – I love non-fiction and I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for a while now. I’ll most likely read this slowly alongside another book or two because I find that non-fiction can be draining sometimes.

The Beach – Alex Garland – This is technically a re-read as well, because this is one of my favourite novels of all time. However, I’ve not read it since I joined Goodreads so I think it’s time to pick it up again

Charlotte’s Web – E.B White – this is a book that I am ashamed to say that I have not ever read. I’ve had a beautiful edition sat on my bookshelves since I was a little girl, but I’ve never read it. I need to rectify this!

Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – This is another book that I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read. Woops!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J K Rowling – again, a book I’ve read but haven’t read for years. Not since a joined Goodreads….why?

S. – JJ Abrams – I bought this book with the intention to read it when I moved out and into a place of my own (because it has a lot of inserts which are easily losable) and yet, I’m almost a year into living with boyfriend and I’ve still not picked this up!

What books are you hoping to cross of your TBR pile this year? Any books that you’re ashamed that you haven’t read?

 

My 2017 Goals

Okay, so I’m super late with this blog post, because it’s almost February, but these aren’t really resolutions as such but more goals that I want to aim towards for the rest of the year. I don’t often talk about much else but books and reading on my blog, with the occasional travel blog post but I wanted to tell you guys all about my 2017 goals.

1. Waste Less Money – As a society, I think we spend too much money on things we don’t actually need. Do you really need the lastest model of iPhone, or are you just buying it to be ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’? I’m as guilty as everyone for this, I waste so much money on shopping that I don’t need. My biggest money waster – buying lunch at work

2. Use Less Plastic – I am a huge eco-warrior and I want to take environmentalism a little further this year and I aim to do that buy consuming less plastic throughout the year. I’ve been spurred on by the #zerowaste and #lessplastic on Instagram and so far I’ve been doing quite well. I’ve been carrying my water bottle with me all the time, I’ve been buying individual fruits and veg and I’ve been thinking more about what I’m eating and buying more and the plastic-free alternatives (or lack thereof). I think it’s important to be aware of what we use and buy and how big a role plastic plays in our lives and the impact it has on the earth, our health and the health of the planet for future generations.

 

So that’s my two little goals for 2017, I’ll keep you posted as I go about the trials and tribulations of not necessarily going #zerowaste, but certainly going #lesswaste and #lessplastic

Talking As Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham

I cannot explain to you all just how excited I got when I discovered that not only did Lauren Graham release an autobiography, but that she narrates the audiobook herself. So of course, I HAD to get it as my audible purchase for the month. I feel like I should put a disclosure here stating that I am a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan so I was always destined to love this book from the moment that I found about it.

Lauren Graham takes you through her life, her struggles to find a steady acting role, and gives you the advice that she’s picked up from mingling with celebrities along the way. She tells you of her romance failures, her fashion disasters and she lets you know what it was like picking up the role of Lorelai Gilmore again. Talking as fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and everything in between) is one of the funniest, if not the funniest autobiographies I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

Throughout the book, Lauren Graham is witty, friendly and very genuine. The book feels like it was written by a friend who is giving you some life advice and telling you a few stories. Her sense of humour is my exact sense of humour, and I found myself laughing aloud on my car journeys whilst listening to this book. I love her sarcasm and how ‘real’ she seems throughout this book, like a normal human rather than a ‘celebrity’.

The one thing that I will say is that I think listening to the audiobook really added to the feel of the book, because you got to hear everything through the voice of the author in the way that she wanted it to be read. I honestly, cannot rave about this book enough, anyone who is a fan of Lauren Graham or the Gilmore Girls should definitely pick it up and I would highly recommend listening to it as an audiobook!

Talking as Fast as I Can was the best way to start off my 2017 reading year!

December Book Haul

I’ve not done a book haul in a while because I’ve been trying to behave, however, it turns out that by not buying new books it makes me not want to read. So this month I caved and I bought a lot, in the hopes that it would make me want to read again and enjoy reading again!

  1. Someday, Someday, Maybe – Lauren Graham

This was my audible purchase for last month but I only got around to spending the token this month! I will admit it was entirely fuelled by the new episodes of the Gilmore Girls. I’ve actually got no clue what the book is about but I love Lauren Graham and I’ve heard great things about the book, so I took the plunge. Plus it’s narrated by Lauren Graham so it’s going to be great to listen to!

2. The Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

I’ve had my eye on the second instalment in the Mistborn series for a while now but it’s always expensive so I’ve never bought it. However, I found books 2, 3 and 4 for £2 each in my local charity shop so I snatched them all up instantly and proceeded to tell the cashier what an absolute bargain the book were! They don’t even look like they’ve been read!

3. The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson

As I said, £2! Who could resist that?

4. Alloy of Law – Brandon Sanderson

Again, £2! I’ve got a lot of epic fantasy to read!

Have you read any of the books in my haul? Have you got any recommendations of books to buy in the next month?

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

As we all know by now, I love Jodi Picoult. She is one of my favourite authors and she’s written a large portion of my favourite books, so of course I was going to jump at the chance to see her talking about her new book and to get myself a signed copy. I’ve seen her in the past, so my mum and I knew she was going to be good. She spent the first portion of her time reading from her book, which was enough to get me hooked and I started reading the book immediately afterwards, then she talked about her inspiration behind the book and why she finally wrote it. The third and final portion of the talk was a Q&A which turned highly political (with Trump winning being the focus for most of the questions). It was an excellent day and it made me incredibly eager to read the book!

Small Great Things focuses on racism and white supremacy which is not something I’ve read about in a book before. I’ve read a fair few book about racism, but nothing on white supremacy and I’m ashamed to say I know very little on the subject. In Small Great Things, we follow Ruth who is a midwife in a small hospital and is ultimately banned from providing care to one family because she is black and they are white supremists. The baby then arrests and dies whilst placed under the temporary care of Ruth, and Ruth is taken to court for her actions or ‘non-actions’ that lead to the death of the infant.

As with all of Jodi Picoult’s books, Small Great Things is written in a multi-perspective voice, where you read from Ruth’s perspective, her lawyer’s perspective and you also hear from Turk, the white supremist father of the dead baby. The characters are well developed and you instantly hate Turk and route for Ruth. Throughout the book, Ruth’s character calls into question what you as a reader know and understand about what it’s like to grow up black and the disadvantage that that gives you against the lives of white people. You hear examples of the every day racism that black people face, and you see two different ways that people react to the stereotypes faced by BME minorities.

Small Great Things is gripping but difficult to read. It will make you uncomfortable as it calls into question everything you thought you knew, but it is so gripping that you will not be able to put it down. I had dreams about this book when I stopped reading for the night and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning. I was picking it up for five minutes when I was slightly early to work, I honestly could not stop reading.

Before reading Small Great Things, I was ignorant of the extent to which black and minority ethnic groups are discriminated against throughout the modern world, I would never have called myself racist, but the way that Jodi Picoult writes Small Great Things led me to question everything I thought I knew about race and racism and the way we act about it. As with every book I’ve read of Jodi Picoult’s, this book struck a chord with me and impacted my way of thinking and being that I don’t often encounter with other authors.

I wholeheartedly encourage every single one of you to read this book because it will change the way that you think and act in everyday life.

Jodi asked at her event “How many of you read an equal amount of books by white people and by minority authors?” and that really struck a chord with me. Going into 2017, I hearby make a pact to read more diversely