Thursday, 29 January 2015

BOOK REVIEW // WATERSMEET

WATERSMEET
BY RACHEL COTTERILL

'When a stranger tells her she's a mage, Ailith is intrigued but she's also afraid. Magic is heresy, and heresy means death under the Temple Law. Even literacy is suspect in a girl of her background, and her sister's impending wedding only serves as a reminder that she should be focusing on her future. Then a local priest asks her to rescue his son, and she starts to wonder if her talents could be a blessing, after all.

The Lord Baron of Watersmeet, Leofwin isn't accustomed to welcoming uninvited visitors. A commoner turning up at his gates should be no more than a minor footnote to his day, but something about Ailith catches his attention. Alchemy can be lonely work and an apprentice might be just what he needs.

As their lessons grow into shared experiments, Leofwin wonders if he might even trust her with his greatest challenge. But Ailith can't forget why she came to the castle.'




I didn't know what to expect from this book at all before reading the blurb. As a sucker for fiction, particularly anything regarding fantasy and magic, I felt it was going to be worth a shot. The fact it is the first in a series always entices me - if I enjoy it, I have more novels to continue the delight!

The amount of characters mentioned in the first chapter, as well as the number of Gods, worried me instantly. I am not one for remembering a whole array of characters and it sometimes overshadows the story. HOWEVER, as I persisted, the focal characters become apparent and I found myself captured by Ailith's personality (pronounced Ay-lith - I had to google it on page 5!)

There are a couple of twists and turns but overall the story covers more of the relationships between people, which I personally find makes a story much more memorable. You could call it a 'coming-of-age' sort of plot, particularly regarding Ailith and her battle between finding a husband and living a family life that is expected and following her ideal career of becoming an alchemist. I love the portrayal of her as an independent, strong-minded woman despite her age.


Should you read it?

I'd definitely recommend 'Watersmeet' for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel.
Get it here on Amazon. The digital edition is well worth the money!

It's a great read to start this year off with, follow me on Goodreads to keep updated on my reading progress and so I can see what you're all reading at the moment too.



Monday, 26 January 2015

BOOK-IT LIST // FEBRUARY


Goodreads challenge, come at me.

So you might've read in a previous post that last year, I failed miserably at reading the 40 books I set myself in the challenge.

In 2015, instead of trying to reach the impossible, I admitted to myself that I just can't read as much as 14 yr old Leanne did. Not only do I have a lot more to do in my life ('proper' jobs and real friends and Pinterest, ahem) but my iPod is fighting for attention on the daily commute also.
I've decided on a safe and easily do-able number of 25 books throughout the year.
This equates to just less than one book per fortnight, which I can definitely hopefully do.


Inspired by a few bloggers, particularly Bethan Likes and Tattooed Tealady who have THE best taste in literature, I have decided to put together a list every month of the books I want to crack on with.

*All the blurbs included in this post, I have only just read whilst writing this very post. Exciting.


IN FEBRUARY, I'LL BE READING...


The Miniaturist
Jessie Burton

So. Much. Hype.

So naturally I gave in and bought it on the Amazon Kindle store and can't wait to get started.
I've seen a couple of reviews, (check out this one at A Little Soapbox) and some love it, some were disappointed. The only way to find out whether it's worth it is to read it myself obviously.
'Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton's magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.'

Ooer, I'm in.


I Was Here
Gayle Forman

I read 'If I Stay' last year and really enjoyed it so when I was given the chance to receive the new novel by same author, I jumped at it. The lovely people at Simon and Schuster sent me a copy last week and this is now what I'm currently reading on the morning train.

Everything about Gayle Forman's writing screams 'this will break your heart' but I still can't put it down.

'A pitch-perfect blend of tragedy, mystery and romance' Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.'

If Stephen Chbosky says it, it absolutely must be true.


The Choice
Nicholas Sparks

I haven't actually read The Notebook but I, like the majority of the female population, have seen the wonders of Gosling at work in the film. If this story is anything to go by, Nicholas Sparks can make any story a romantic one and I figured with this being the month of love (well, it's Valentine's Day) I'd give it a shot.

'Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, THE CHOICE ultimately confronts us with the most heartwrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?'

Knew it would be about love. Knew it.


One Hundred Names
Cecelia Ahern

Oh Cecelia, author after my own heart. I absolutely adore some of her novels, in particular 'Where Rainbows End' (I wrote about that and the film version here), 'If You Could See Me Now' and of course the well known 'P.S. I Love You'.

I'm going to be honest though, I wasn't a fan of any of the others I read. They were obviously written in the same style and with her characterisation but the stories themselves just didn't connect with me. I'm hoping that this one will bring back my love!

‘An exquisitely crafted and poignant tale about finding the beauty that lies within the ordinary. Make space for it in your life.’ Heat

That told me pretty much nothing, thanks Heat magazine.



Are you doing the challenge, or have you read any of these books?
Let me know!






Saturday, 24 January 2015

FROM BOOK TO FILM // #3 LOVE, ROSIE


Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern
Film adaptation 'Love, Rosie' screenplay by Juliette Towhidi
 Directed by Christian Ditter

'Where Rainbows End' was my favourite book for very long time (until John Green and his works of art came along) and I was so excited to see the film adaptation. Not only was it my favourite plot, they chose the stunning Lily Collins to play the main character, Rosie. She is my eyebrow idol, my hair idol and an icon of the era.

From book...

The book is written in a series of letters, texts, notes and emails and it's such a great method of portraying the relationship between the two best friends. It's obviously going to be difficult to have the same effect in a film where it can't be expressed in the same way so I wasn't pinning all my hopes on a great version of it.

There's major ups and downs and it is a fun coming of age story, with hugely likeable characters. You get the real sense of their friendship and how it changes and grows throughout, which I feel is always going to lack in a film due to timescale.

I cry pretty much every time I read the story and I've read it A LOT. Because of the style, it's easy to read and I'd highly recommend it for your book list if you haven't read it already!

...to film

They only based it loosely on the novel which I feel was the best way to preserve Cecelia Ahern's original writing style. I was a little bit miffed at the relationship between Rosie and Alex (her best friend) because it wasn't quite as powerful as in the book but Sam Claflin absolutely won me over in this film. Let's be honest, you wouldn't want to just his 'friend' for very long now, would you?!

It was great, overall, and the two versions share the aspect of being a lovely pick-me-up sort of story.  However, the adaptation is pretty different. If you've seen the film and loved it, please read the book too, you'll like it even more.

And yes, the fact they changed the name of it annoyed me initially.
But admittedly, it's a better film title!

There were rumours about another Cecelia Ahern novel 'If You Could See Me Now' being made but it's yet to progress... I'll be keeping an eye out!



Monday, 19 January 2015

VALENTINE'S WISHLIST // designer VS budget

So as a rule, David and I don't do presents on Valentine's Day. However, it's our anniversary the same weekend and after the really shit presents I received for Christmas, I'm hoping for quite a lovely present to celebrate both events this year! Don't get me wrong, I appreciate every gift he gave me but you know when you just hoped differently... okay it's a bit of a greedy post, I admit ;)

Both of us are saving money for trips and plans for the rest of 2015 at the minute so I've found designer (I use this term loosely) or expensive presents I would adore, and a budget version which is equally as lovely!


Rose gold 'Karma' necklace

I had a silver circle necklace that I broke earlier this week, so I hinted at wanting a rose gold version to replace it. Whether the rather blunt text stating 'I want a rose gold necklace' worked as a hint or not though, I'm not sure. I'm a big 'what goes around, comes around' believer and these delicate necklaces are beautiful.

DESIGNER

ASOS £63

BUDGET

Etsy £17.62


A New Lipstick

This was on my Christmas wishlist and I'm still craving one! The Anna Sui lipsticks are so lovely but I wouldn't want to splurge for one for myself. If someone wanted to buy me one however...who am I to complain?! I'd love a new lipstick in general however and as Boots No7 is one of my favourite brands, a selection from their range would also be appreciated!

DESIGNER

Beautybay.com/Allertons £23

BUDGET

Boots £9.95


A (non engagement but committed) ring!

There's such a stigma about buying girlfriends rings. No, I don't expect a proposal with it, I just want a nice piece of jewellery! The Creature jewellery ring above has been featured on a wish list before and I'm still in love with it. I think I'm going to buy it next month myself anyway it's so lovely! On Etsy, there are so many sets of stackable gem rings which would be so pretty, so I picked an example of some of the ones I'd love to wear.

DESIGNER

Creature Jewellery £50

BUDGET

Etsy £19.66

If I get any of these I will be extremely lucky (or I've left 4832264 hints) but I'm looking forward to a lovely weekend with him regardless, obviously! We're spending the whole time together and going to our first gig together - which is astonishing it's taken this long - on the Sunday :)


What are you all doing for Valentine's (whether you've got a significant other or not)?



Thursday, 15 January 2015

HONEST BLOGGING TIPS //


Blogging is a hobby for most of us and it's something to be enjoyed. There's a fantastic online community, it gives us a space to share our thoughts and (usually) not be judged and it's actually a great way to be creative in the 21st century.

I'm very bored of posts advising young people 'How to be a successful blogger'.

Don't get me wrong, I still read some because they're written by bloggers I love and I think sometimes the tips can be fairly useful.

However, I've actually seen blog posts written by bloggers with a large follower count entitled
'Why I would not read your blog' or something to that extent. Oh well, if you're going to leave my page because my Nokia phone camera quality is terrible and I've misspelled 'your' then I might as well just give up, eh?! Get a grip.

Fair play to you lot who have a large follower count, but also a big congratulations if you've just hit your first 10 followers on Bloglovin'. You're doing good, too.

Below are a few of my own tips on how to be a blogger...


Blog about whatever you want.

Don't let anyone tell you that you're pigeon-holed to one sort of blogging style or topic. I follow beauty blogs, I follow fashion blogs, I follow food blogs. But my absolute faves, are the blogs that write a bit about everything. Who doesn't love a blog that shows you the best mascaras, nicest Topshop coats, books to read this year AND how to make double chocolate chip cookies? Exactly.

Blog whenever you want.

The big question: Do bloggers with an upload schedule have more readers than those without?

Answer: Who gives a shit?

I have blogs that I love and I have no idea if they upload posts on certain days or not, I just see them as and when I have time. Just like I blog as and when I have time. Oh no! You didn't finish your post in time for 5pm Friday?! Chances are, nobody noticed or nobody cares enough to make a comment about it being half an hour late. Also, if you've got a full time job and blog too then a huge high five to you, friend, because I certainly have not mastered any sort of planning or scheduling.


It's OKAY to include average photography

You don't NEED a fancy schmancy camera to have lovely pictures on your blog.
Yes it is aesthetically pleasing and can look more professional BUT if you want to snap an OOTD with your iPhone 4, go ahead. If your writing is honest and likeable, it really doesn't matter.
I'm planning on buying a new camera soon and sure, I'll use it for my blog pictures but to be honest, it's primarily for just capturing holidays, friends, moments and to learn the skill of photography.

Deep down, I still feel we should all hail the smartphone camera. 


You don't need the latest iPad or MAC foundation to blog

I think it's important to focus on the fact that blogging doesn't have to be expensive. Generally, bloggers are exposed to a hell of a lot of product reviews and makeup tutorials and wish lists that tempt us into wanting to buy everything featured in the posts.

When Zoella empties her three full-to-bursting Boots carrier bags we're thinking 'Ooh I can't wait to see what she bought' as well as 'Holy shit, she spent more on makeup in this haul than I have in my entire life'. If you can afford your Charlotte Tilbury lipstick and an Olivia Burton watch, fabulous, but it's good to remember that writing good content costs nothing.

I hope you didn't take too much offence to this, or at best, actually quite enjoyed it!

What tips do you have for bloggers?







*all photos from DTTSP

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 // BLOG RESOLUTIONS

I'm so pleased I finally started The Dress Diaries in last year and just a few months in I've had some fantastic opportunities. I didn't expect a community like there is and I'm extremely grateful to everyone who has ever commented, retweeted, favourited, saved a post, followed on any social media or anyone I've met in person, it's lovely to be a tiny part of a colossal team.

Blogging is a hobby and a hobby I take lightly at that. I don't promise to post x times a week and my photos are taken on a Nokia Lumia 925 and I can barely afford to feed myself never mind buy MAC lipsticks. However, I really enjoy it when I get the time and this year, I'd love to make it a bigger part of my life.

I wrote a post on life 2015 // RESOLUTIONS but below are a few goals I'd like to achieve specifically for The Dress Diaries before the end of 2015!

source: pinterest

Make the time

I blame a lot of absence from my blog on 'not having enough time' but I do. I absolutely do. I can easily juggle other projects and career and events better than I do at the minute and I need to realise I can prioritise this sometimes if I want to. It's my blog, I enjoy it, a lot of other things can wait!



Tweetdeck

I have Tweetdeck. I've opened Tweetdeck. It intimidated me and I've not opened it since. I've heard so many great things about it and quite frankly, it would make twitter chats a hell of a lot easier so this is something I vow to face.



Design (from scratch)

I failed my 'web design' module at university and I'm not ashamed, that coding shit is difficult. Now I'm working in a graphic design career and working on various digital platforms regularly I figured now is the right time to conquer at least some form of coding and HTML that I can apply professionally and personally. If I can design and code a blog layout by myself, it will make me a lot happier and I will have achieved a lot more than paying someone else to do it for me. 


source: pinterest

Comment, comment

This is another 'time' issue but as I said before, I'll be making time this year. Particularly for commenting on wonderful posts. I think Bloglovin' is fantastic and for the past month or so I've been outfaced with over 1500 posts I needed to catch up with. Over Christmas, I had a couple of times where I was able to sit and read post after post and comment away and you know what? It was lovely.
More of that in 2015, please.


What are your blogging resolutions?
Comment and leave a link for me below :)


Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015 RESOLUTIONS //

2015 has come round so quickly and if the past year is anything to go by, it's going to be a m a z i n g.

source: pinterest

I recently wrote a post about the resolutions I managed to keep and achieve throughout 2014 ( read it here) so it makes sense to write up a new list for the coming year!


- Settle into a home
I've moved about 6 times in the past few years so it will be nice to feel like I'm at 'home'

- Gain an ETM certificate
So I can teach adult dance classes!

- Read more
And reach my Goodreads target this time

- Go to Glastonbury (again)
:D

- Visit Berlin
Booked for March with the fave <3

- Get a credit card
Become an adult and get a credit rating etc. and to also buy pretty things

- Get a new tattoo
Hopefully in January, been putting this off for months!

- Bake more
And make a red velvet cake.

- Learn Spanish
And a bit of German, for Berlin!

- Buy a new camera
To snap all my memories in 2015 and improve my blogs

- Visit Scarborough and Brighton
Scarbz for nostalgia, Brighton because I've never been!

- Explore more of Leeds
Go to more bars/restaurants/gigs everything. I don't explore enough of my home town!

- Go to a zoo
I've been to a safari park before but I want to see some tigers again!

- Experience more opportunities through blogging
2014 opened a lot of doors, so hopefully I can open more!

- Look into freelance design
Is this what I want to do eventually?

- Spend Christmas in Australia
because why not?!