100 Books Read!

When I first started reviewing books on my blog I didn’t know if it was going to stick. I remember writing my first Books I Read in… post and feeling so proud that I had read 4 books in a month. I have health problems that can make concentrating a struggle, and I wondered if reading was going to be too much like hard work. I felt my 30 before 30 goal of reviewing 200 books would take me the ten years I had when I first wrote that post.

And yet, here I am just over a year and a half in and I’ve hit 100 books. Not only read but reviewed. I’ve loved and hated books, I’ve raved and ranted, and I pass my bookshelf every day and feel a certain amount of pride knowing I’ve read all those books. That the bookcase that used to be 90% knick knacks to 10% books is now 100% books. And every month I struggle to fit my months reading in.

Not only is this a post to be happy about my reading. It’s also an opportunity for me to say thank you, to the book bloggers whose opinions I trust when I’m picking what to read, to the bookstagrammers that take such beautiful pictures, to my readers that read and comment on my book posts. Thank you.

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Beauty Review: Lush’s Sweetest Thing Gift!

It was a sad day when I realised I haven’t been buying a lot of Lush lately. My local store shut down and I have a dislike for the £3.95 delivery fee on their website. But my mum works near one of the stores and she kindly bought me the Sweetest Thing gift on a whim one day (thank you mum!). And I’ve been hearing some rumours about the Christmas line, consider me interested in Lush again.

Lush: Sweetest Thing Gift! Pink Fun, Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly, Bubblegum lip scrub

The gift comes with three products; Fun in Pink, Sweetie Pie shower jelly (no longer available except in this and the Sugar Sugar gift) and Bubblegum lip scrub.

Lush: Pink Fun

Fun has been out for a while but I’ve never picked up a… Bar? Wedge? It’s never really been cute enough for me to reach for it. But I’m glad I got to try it! It has the same scent as the Creamy Candy bubble bar and Snowfairy, so basically it smells like candy. It claims to have four uses; solid shampoo, bubble bar, soap and well- Fun. As for actual uses? As fun it’s neat, and for soap it works great but as a bubble bar it leaves lumps at the bottom of your bath and as shampoo, lumps in your hair. So it really depends what you want it for.
 It’s £5 for 100g and it can be bought on it’s own here!

Lush: Bubblegum lip scrub

Bubblegum lip scrub is a pretty well known in the beauty blogosphere. It’s a lip scrub that does the job and tastes like candy, what’s not to like? Of course, it’s probably very easy to replicate but that’s a whole different cost vs. worth, time is money thing.
It’s £5.50 for 25g and you can buy it on it’s own here!

Lush: Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly

Sweetie Pie is no longer available on it’s own. Which is devastating because this is one of my favourite Lush products. It smells like the Comforter, and is basically jelly soap- so much more fun then shower gel or bar soap. I’m glad that I have a tub to savour. It’ll be a dark day when I finally finish this.

Lush do some pretty great gifts in my opinion. Full of good stuff? Check. Pre-wrapped? Check. Decent price? Check. And in this case- the lip pops off easily if you want to add extras. Personally, I like to add something that shows some extra thought, a nail polish or a lipstick.

The Sweetest Thing gift costs £14.50 and can be bought here!

What do you think of this gift? Would you buy it for someone?

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Book Review: Magisterium: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare!

Contains minor spoilers for The Iron Trial. Haven’t read my review? It’s here!

Magisterium: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The second book in the Magisterium series.

Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to school in the magical world of the Magisterium…

It’s not easy for Call… and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.

Call escapes to the Magisterium but things only intensify there. The Alkahest – a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic – has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes – and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.

As the mysteries of the Magisterium deepen and widen, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take readers on an extraordinary journey through one boy’s conflict -and a whole world’s fate.

This book took me a little while to get into. I picked it up right after I finished The Iron Trial and I’m not sure if it was a reading slump or just that the beginning just didn’t interest me. I took a break and read another book before picking it up again. I got into it that time though and it was a whole different story. I found myself trying hard to read faster and faster so I can find out what is going to happen. Now I have my head around how the magic works, who the characters all are and what the places look like, it was easier to jump into the world. Especially because there wasn’t much of a time skip, just to the end of Summer which I find happens in most books centred around school.

The characters are developed further in this book, especially as we get so see Tamara at home and the control her parents have over her and her sister. There is more with Aaron but I still feel like I want to learn more. And, to my enjoyment, Jasper gets more page time. I’m a sucker for old money turned poor characters. And he’s hilarious, the way he interacts with the three is so real and I hope we get more Jasper in later books.

But Jasper isn’t my favourite, Call still holds that place in my heart. He did something in this book that had me have to put it down I was laughing so hard. Yes, he’s a bit of a brat, like every 13 year old but he’s kind under his sarcasm and his struggle with- being the soul of an evil overlord in an innocent body just has you routing for him. He wants to be good and that’s the difference from just a regular bratty teen who couldn’t care less.

The story finishes of smoothly with no huge cliffhanger, but leaves open a few threads of intrigue. And overall, even though it took me a while to get into this book, I enjoyed it a lot and I think it has great re-readabiliy. If you read the first book, this doesn’t disappoint. I’m already looking forward to the next book. Even though since this one hasn’t even been published yet, it means I have even longer to wait. What a cruel world.

This book is being published on the 3rd of September and yo can pre-order it here! Haven’t read the first book? You can buy it here!

Have you started the Magisterium series yet? Are you excited for The Copper Gauntlet?

*This book was sent to me for review. I am not obligated to talk about it. Amazing links are affiliate links.

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5 Things I Love About Blogging!

I think every blogger I’ve ever spoken to has slumps now and again. I think every person I’ve ever spoken to has had a slump when it comes to a hobby. You put a lot of effort in, you try your best, and sometimes you don’t feel good about what you produce, whether it’s a blog post, a cake or a painting. I’m in a bit of a slump right now, so I thought I’d make this weeks 5 Things post about blogging because this is my hobby and I know even under this cartoon raincloud I have over my head- I love it. So here are 5 Things…

1. Having a productive hobby.
I have no idea how I spent most of my time on the internet before I started up my first blog. Hours and hours with nothing to show for it. Now when I’m online I’m editing pictures while I watch Netflix, tweeting about my latest blog post, instagraming pictures of what I’m reading, drafting a post, emailing people- having fun and getting the satisfaction of pressing that big orange publish button at the end of it.

2. Learning new skills.
I still haven’t figured out HTML or how to turn my DSLR off automatic but I’m finally comfortable writing lifestyle posts like this, and I’m pretty pleased with how far my book reviews have come, and I feel like I have a voice on my blog that represents myself. And that’s pretty neat.

3. Having your hard work recognised.
I was googling my blog the other day out of curiosity and found that I’m quoted on the Chronicles of the Invaders website. It really brightened my day because it’s one of my favourite series and I put a lot of work into my original review. Things like that, comments, emails, tweets, knowing someone is reading and is liking what you’re putting out- makes the hard stuff worth it.

4. There’s always going to be someone doing better than you…
And that’s okay! Something I learnt from all-girls school is that jealousy doesn’t get you anywhere but can easily make you really miserable. But also that you can think of it another way, and be inspired by people doing better than you. Let them pull you up rather than trying to drag them down. I’m inspired by being surrounded with positive, powerful, intelligent people like my fellow bloggers.

5. There’s always going to be someone just starting out…
According to CNET there are two new blogs started every second. That’s two people sitting down in front of a computer with something to say that only they can say. Everyone’s experiences are different and so everyone has something unique to talk about. That’s one of the best things about the internet in my opinion. And you can help them. One of my favourite moments as a blogger was when a brand new blogger emailed me asking for help, and helping them the best that I could so I could get to read what they had to say.

So those are 5 Things I Love about blogging- What do you love about blogging?
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Nail Polish Dupes: KIKO Grass Green/ OPI Forrest My Case/ Essence Beijos De Brazil

The other day in an attempt to organize my nail polishes I split them up into basic colour groups and these three rolled together. After the shame wore off I decided- hey, at least I can compare them and see which is best so nobody else has to end up with three identical green nail polishes. One will do, I promise.

KIKO Grass Green / OPI Forrest My Case / Essence Beijos De Brazil / Essence Beijos De Brazil

KIKO Grass Green 
This is slightly paler than the others but it’s much more noticeable in the picture than real life. I wrote an entire review of this one here! But basically- a bit of a pain, but par for the course as far as green nail polishes go. In the UK I think you have to order KIKO online so this might be more hassle than it’s worth.

OPI Forrest My Case 
This was the worst application for me. It went on really streaky and took ages to dry. It is my oldest of the three though. Maybe that made a difference. But it’s identical in colour to the next one so you might as well get…

Essence Beijos De Brazil*
This was the best. The application was thick but didn’t take ages to dry and Essence brushes are wide and have a curved end that means even with difficult green polish- it took one or two swipes to get the nail painted and ready. Essence is slowly taking over as my favourite place to get nail polishes, the quality is on point, the brushes are amazing, availability is rising as they spread over the UK and the price is unbeatable.

So surprisingly, the OPI nail polish was the worst- although that name is the best! My favourite was the Essence one, in price, brush and quality.

Have you ever tried any of these? Which was your favourite?

*I received this at the Essence event I went to last year but it hasn’t changed my opinion.
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Book Review: Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare!

I remember my entrance exams to get into my secondary school. It was a thursday, my birthday, and I went home and watched the Matrix after completing tests on Science, English and Maths. It wasn’t a magic school, nobody asked me to make a broken pen work or float a piece of paper or keep a fire burning on a bowl of water and my parents didn’t tell me I would die if I got in. Just a few ways in which I am not Callum Hunt. 

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come…

I loved this book. I’ve really been enjoying magic in books lately and this world has a pretty nice magic system where the mages call on the elements to move and change things. I think that’s my favourite way of doing magic, I don’t want to have to carry around a wand like Harry Potter or swallow metal like Vin, calling on air, water, fire and earth sounds pretty convenient compared to that. 

The one thing that took me a while to get used to was the setting, this underground magic school set in tunnels and caves. I’ve been in underground places like this in France and they are creepy. Drips down your back, air smelling like something you can’t quite describe but sets your teeth on edge, damp everywhere creepy. So yeah, it wasn’t my favourite setting but I understand the choice. 

The characters are really well developed. There isn’t a single character that felt flat to me and I really appreciated that. One of my books on writing said that everyone is the main character in their own story, and when somebody left the room after interacting with Call they didn’t just poof out of existence in my mind, they went off to do their own thing. The main character, Call, is sarcastic and rude but I couldn’t help liking him anyway. In fact, I probably liked him a little more because of it. He’s a teen under it all.

The story carried me quickly through the book and kept me reading well into the night. There were twists, turns and all my expectations of what was going to happen ended up being so wrong. I can see how the series was set up and I’m really excited to continue with The Copper Gauntlet. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare cannot write these books quick enough for me.

I can’t end this review without talking about the elephant in the room. A magical white boy with messy dark hair going to magic school, where he fights a powerful enemy that wants to be immortal, with his two best friends. Yeah. This book could easily have taken a few steps to distance itself more from Harry Potter. A couple gender changes would have gone a long way. But hey. This book stands out on it’s own and I’m impressed. It may not replace Harry Potter at the top of my list of favourite books but it isn’t far down the list either.

Want to read this book? You can find it here!

Have you read The Iron Trial? What did you think of it?

*This book was sent to me for review. It hasn’t changed my opinion. Amazon links are affiliate links.
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5 Reading Goals for 2015 with 5 Months to Go!

At the beginning of the year I made 5 goals for my reading and one for my book blogging. I wrote them down, posted them here and kept them in mind as I picked through my TBR and visited different worlds and met different characters. With 5 months left in 2015 I thought it was time to revisit those goals and evaluate how I was doing!

Read 15 books.
My Goodreads reading goal for 2015 is 15 books. I’ve got up to 54 so far. Turns out that I just like reading and the books I’ve been wanting to read are short enough that I can get through 1-2 a week. I do want to challenge myself to read longer books, I do. And I will. That’s why it’s good to re-evaluate your goals I guess!

Read one of the books I ‘paused’ in 2014!
I paused 14 books in 2014 and you can find out about them here! So far in 2015 they’ve been joined by 21 others and I haven’t wanted to pick up any of them so far. It is something that bothers me as they are in a couple piles that I see everyday and I know there are good books in those piles so it’s just a case of hyping myself up for this one.

Read a book longer than 500 pages.
Check! In January I read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson that clocked in at 660 pages. And at just 500 pages The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver kind of counts for this one too, right? Check and check! 

Read a classic.
Okay. I’ve kind of done this one. I read A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams which could be considered a classic. And I read The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf which I bought in a collection called ‘Hidden Classics’ but neither has really resonated with me as ‘oh I’m reading a classic’ so I’m still working on this. It’s not a priority though.

Only buy half as many as I read.
So I bought three from The Cut-Price Bookstore, two from Barter Books, six from eBay, seven from Waterstones, and two I didn’t haul making a grand total of twenty. Not including books I’ve received from publishers and presents. It could be better. A lot better. But- books!

And my one extra to do with blogging. Write more book reviews. I’ve been doing okay with this one. I’ve been working on expanding my thoughts on my end of the month wrap-ups but I haven’t been doing as many individual reviews as I want to be. It is on the up though!

So overall I feel like I’m on track! I’ve noted a few things I can definitely improve on though and that’s why I think looking over your goals is really important to do as time progresses. 

Did you have any reading goals? How are you doing?
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My #5Books7Days Readathon Wrap-Up!

The #5Books7Days readathon ended at midnight on Sunday and I kept reading right up to the bitter end. I didn’t make it to five books, not helped by my trip down to London at the beginning and then over to Wales at the end. It’s been a busy 7 days! I had a TBR and stuck to it at the beginning… Things changed.

My #5Books7Days Readathon Wrap-Up including From Dead to Worse and Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris, Magisterium: The Iron Trial and Magisterium: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, and Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty

After finishing of the last 100 pages of my pre-readathon read; From Dead to Worse I picked up Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris. As expected I flew through this on the train back from London and enjoyed it! Sookie is a good way to start a readathon. But I decided to switch over to a book I’ve been sent for review next.

So I picked up was Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare*. I was blown away by this one and my full review will be going up soon. I was so stoked about the series I went on to start Magisterium: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare*. But 88 pages in I decided to stop until I’ve finished my review of The Iron Trial so I don’t get confused.

Then I had a bit of a look through of my books for something shorter, and found the 150 page Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty that I started waaaaay back when I was about 12 and never finished. So I started at the beginning and read to the end. It was- okay? Worth reading once but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again.

So three full books, one end and one beginning! Not too shabby. What did you read?
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Book Review: The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf!

Warning: This is not a review for the arachnophobic!

Personally I really like spiders. I live in an attic so I see a spider probably once a week or more, I give them names and my friend gives them french accents and they’re pretty cute to me. But I understand the dislike and I’m not really sure how this book would read if I was scared of them. It had moments where even I had shivers down my spine and a creeping feeling at my neck. Not bad for a book written in 1842.

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

After one of their own members repeatedly fails to live up to a pact with the Devil, a petty and morally bankrupt village community is terrorized by a succession of deadly black spiders. First published in 1842, this haunting cautionary novella shrewdly dissects the iniquitous social dynamics of rural life through the use of dark satire and realism.

You know that story that got told in school? A girl would be bitten by a spider, it would lay it’s eggs and she’d get a spot. It could grow and grow until one day when she’s in the shower it bursts and all these baby spiders come out. It’s an urban myth and completely impossible as far as science but still- freaked me out as a kid. I’m fairly certain that this book is the origin of that myth.

It starts with a baptism of a baby and then the elderly godfather starts telling the story. Normally the whole- story within a story thing doesn’t do it for me but I actually really liked it in this book. It added that element of storytelling before books were as accessible as they are now, where parables and fables were passed down from one generation to the next. In the story, a woman makes a deal with the devil but when she doesn’t give him a unbaptised baby- boom. Spiders crawling out of her face and terrorising the village. The book is a lot more eloquent but you get the gist. The book is a horror story with the idea being that you read it and don’t make deals with the devil / be God-fearing / baptise your kids. I’m not religious so that part didn’t spook me but the descriptions of the horrors that came to the villagers, terrifying. Jeremias Gotthelf was a pastor and this was much scarier than I anticipated from knowing that. 

It’s 100 pages but it took me a couple days to read, the language was pretty much what you’d expect from a book written 173 years ago then translated from German to English but where that would normally put me off- the story was enough to keep me turning the pages. Classics stay classics for a reason. It’s hard to review a book so different from what is normal these days, but I would recommend this book if you want to read something a little different or have an interest in the strange. I can see this being a great read for Halloween.

I bought this book as part of a collection on The Book People but unfortunately they aren’t selling it anymore. It is available on Amazon though! You can buy it here!

Have you ever read The Black Spider? What did you think?
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My #5Books7Days Readathon TBR!

The #5Days7Books readathon starts on Monday, runs from the 10th-17th and I’m really excited. I hit a bit of a reading slump at the end of July/ beginning of August so I’m hoping that this will get me out of it. There are just so many books on my TBR that I’m dying to read! Plus, this coincides with a trip down to London and the two two-hour train journeys are perfect for reading. So what will I be reading?

Dead and Gone and Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
I’m currently reading From Dead to Worse and hopefully I’m going to finish by tomorrow for the start of the readathon. I’m loving this series and these are the last two books of the set of ten I own. Once I finish these I need to buy the last three so I’m holding off until I have read all the books I have until I buy them. Trying to curb that book buying! I have a lot of confidence in Charlaine Harris’s writing and they’re nice quick easy books for a readathon!

Magisterium: The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare*
Both of these have popped through my letterbox in the past two weeks and there’s been a lot of hype around them in the past year. I really liked The Spiderwick Chronicles that Holly Black wrote with Tony DiTerlizzi so I’m hoping I’ll like these just as much because- and this is pretty unheard of in the book blogging world- I’ve never read a Cassandra Clare book before. Yep. These will be my first. Also, I’ve been really liking magic in books lately since I read Half Bad.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers*
This is a debut novel that originally had huge success on Kickstarter and was then picked up by Hodder & Stoughton. It’s being published half way through the readathon on the 13th and I’m hoping to get a review up for you as soon as possible because I’m really excited about this one. I think it’s going to be great. Sci-fi is one of my favourite genres it’s hugely under-represented on my bookshelves so this will be something different for me.

Are you joining the #5Books7Days readathon? What are you going to be reading?
*These books were sent to me for review. I am not obligated to talk about them. Amazon links are affiliate links.
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