A bookworm’s perfect pamper evening

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Hellllllo reader’s, something a little different in terms of posts but one that I’m hoping to do more of. I’ve always written a lot of reviews which I think are so important for a book-based-blog, but I love reading more bookish/lifestyle type posts and I’m going to have a mini experiment and see how they go down. Many of you will know, I love to give myself a pamper despite not being a ‘girly-girl,’ but seriously you cannot beat a bath/face-mask/deep-hair-condition and a good book so I thought I would tell you my ‘formula’ (which I have been perfecting) for the perfect bookworm’s pamper evening. 

 

  

Step-one: Tea-time.

The first step on my list is to make tea; despite being a born Brit, breakfast tea has never reaaaaaaly done it for me and therefore I stick to peppermint and green tea which is equally yummy. For Christmas this year I was given a pug mug, loose Peppermint tea and a pug infuser. Pop the leaves inside the pugs tummy add hot water and then hang him over the side of the mug to infuse.  

 

Step – two: Run Le bath

Might be a pretty obvious one but it’s kinda what you put in the bath; I am loving Lush’s Intergalactic bath-bomb boasting Peppermint, Grapefruit and Cedarwood Oil and a pop of Popping Candy this bath-bomb is refreshing and beautiful too. Deep-shimmery blue water filled with glittery goodness – pretty epic.

  

STEP – three: Pea Face

Okay, not exactly pea face, but at this point I go into the bedroom, grab my jammies, the book I’m currently reading or a new one to start and amble down to the fridge to pick up my Lush Brazen Honey face-mask. Quick look into my skin history – when I was 15 or so I had terrible acne through really awfully oily skin. Skip forward 7 years and I have managed to completely alter my skin type – I now suffer with scaly skin from avoiding any oil based products.

This face-mask, although looks a little like you’ve smushed mushy peas all over your face is the best face mask I’ve used to date. Packed full of fresh fennel ginger root and parsley to detox and stimulate, sage, rosemary and juniperberry infusion with cardamom and clove bud oils for their antiseptic qualities and fresh lime juice to cleanse the skin and free range eggs, honey and almond oil to soothe and moisturise this mask is a gem. Smooth over your face and leave whilst bathing to fully detox, relax and give your skin a hug.

  

STEP – Four: Get ‘ya Read on.

At this point in time – your bath should be run, not too hot, and your tea should be drinkable, the mask is drying and you’re hopefully starting to get that mellow happy feeling. This is when I hop in the bath and pick up what I’ve been reading last – it’s difficult for me to say tips for when in the bath because I’m terrible at it, but I would definitely say invest in a bath rack/tidy/shelf. Lusting over ‘The White Company’ version right now – give it to meee. Room for tea, snacks and your book and a flannel for wet fingers to stop mucky pages.

Once the water starts to get a little colder and I’m getting ready to get out and get warm in bed I apply Sugar Crush Body Scrub by Soap and Glory all over my body (I tend to step up out of the bath and make sure I’ve got every bit of me) and then wash off carefully.

  

STEP – Five: MOISTURIZE yo’self (and Jammies)

My last step is to smother myself in body-butter (especially my thighs and my tummy.) I am obsessively using Argan Oil products at the moment (shampoo, conditioner, intensive treatments) and this Wild Argan Oil Body Butter from the Body Shop which smells amazing and makes my skin feel supple, soft and moisturised. After I’ve let it settle in, it’s time for my scrabble jammies and back into bed for more reading (potentially more tea) and a wind down.

So there you go, five steps to my perfect bath and pamper session. I think sometimes as a book-blogger I put a lot of pressure on myself to read alllllll the time so it’s nice to unwind and relax with a book and look gorgeous (hopefully) afterwards.

 

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Annie of Albert Mews by Dee Williams

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Helllllo readers, hope you’re well! Since writing up my favourite historical fiction periods for a top ten Tuesday post I realised that there are lots of historical fiction books that I just haven’t got around to reading yet and I thought it was time to get them written up for you lovely people. I adore Dee Williams and her writing – she just has a way of creating emotion with the reader and making them fall in love with her characters wholly; but I’ll stop gushing. Without delay the review.

Even if she feels life is passing her by as she serves behind the counter in her father’s Rotherhithe grocer’s shop, Annie Rogers knows she is lucky to have a secure home and a loving family – unlike her friend Lil, whose father is a violent drunk. Knowing how hard Lil’s life is, Annie willingly helps her out, lending her dresses and make-up and, when Annie is asked out on a smart date by the landlord’s son Peter Barrett, suggesting Lil come along to make up a foursome.

But it is a shock when Lil gets on famously with Peter’s swanky friend Julian whilst Annie feels much less sure of the smooth Peter. Soon Lil is busy earning money from pub singing spots set up for her by Julian, and Annie, no longer needed by her friend, feels more isolated than ever. It is then that she notices shy Will Hobbs from Fisher’s engineering works. Before long Annie and Will are engaged, with plans for a home of their own in Surrey. But a dreadful accident at Fisher’s and the looming shadow of World War II mean that life for Annie of Albert Mews is not so predictable – or secure – as she once thought it was …

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So as the blurb suggests the book follows the life of Annie Rodgers who currently works for her father in his grocery store – very close to her family and old beyond her years Annie is a family girl through and through. Supporting her best friend Lil, whose father is a violent drunk and trying to find her place in the world we follow Annie as she watches the world struggle against the pulls of WW2. But it’s not all doom and gloom – going on a date with the seemingly lovely Peter Barrett and taking Lil along, everything might work out okay. However, when Annie finds herself ditched by her friend she falls for the shy but delightful Will – but trouble is on the way.

I’ve spoken about the author Dee Williams over and over again but this is potentially my favourite of the books of the series. The writing style is lyrical and beautiful. It moves wonderfully detailing the struggles of the people at home as the war starts to wage closer and closer. The speech used and the descriptions of the struggles as the rationing becomes closer and the world starts to panic about the impending war I loved seeing the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tale that is woven. More often than not it is the back-stories about the war that I tend to enjoy more, rather than the action itself.

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Character build up is perfection – Annie and Lil are chalk and cheese and their teetering friendship kept me on edge as a I continued through the book. Annie is sweet, loving but shy and a little retiring. Lil is big for your buck, in your face but she had a desperate and needy side that I thought came through against Annie. Looking at their backgrounds and the men they decide to keep in their lives and the differences between them too only added to the tale.

I guess the only wobble I can come up with is that it’s not an action tale, it’s a tale about family and that, as like the rest of the Dee Williams books is what makes me love them so much but they don’t have much of a plot – there’s no mystery, there is romance and there is a plot of get your teeth into but it’s soft. It’s about family.

Overall as like the rest of the Dee Williams books I adored this. It’s a beautiful tale of war love and family and it’s definitely worth a read.

The Adventures of Precious Penny by Dina Marie Filippini

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Hellllllo readers, hope you’re well and have had a wonderfully bookish week. I have a children’s book to review for you today and it’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed this type of book but I’m super excited. Without further waffling onto le review.

 Dina Marie Filippini lives in New York and has three children. She has participated in the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City, and this is her first children’s book. Having picked up her fair share of misplaced coins, one day she stopped to consider where a particular penny had come from—and her children’s story The Adventures of Precious Penny was born. Now, when she spots a penny on the ground she often wonders about its backstory.


I’ve mentioned this before and will probably mention it again, children’s books are so important in creating future readers, learners and creaters; it all starts here. I’ve read a lot of children’s book and I think this is a really interesting concept; we follow the life of Precious Penny as she makes her way from the safe haven of the bank into the sticky pockets of young children into dark and cold puddles, with a little bit of sandpit adventure on the way. As she travels through the various different situations Polly reminisces about the pennies and other coins she has met and the adventures she has had; jumping in puddles, running, skipping and singing in the car.

In terms of writing I think it’s the perfect text style for readers aged 6/7+ but could be easily used by parents to read to younger children. Although there is a larger amount of text than normally seen in children’s books it’s not unrealistic in terms of engaging a child. There’s just enough but not too much. The images are beautifully created and styled. They have bright colours, and they are a mix of realism in the drawing of the coins but the illustrations of the children are fantasy and cartoon it’s beautiful to look at and I can imagine this becoming a child’s favourite book to pick out of the shelf and had read to them.

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The story doesn’t tell a moral as such but I think it would teach children to think about the little things. To remember that there is a story about everything, that we should treasure the small things; I had never thought of the adventures the coins we use everyday go through but here it has been woven into an interesting and telling tale. It also tells of friendship, of keeping strong through difficult and lonely times and things will get better. You may think this is too much for a children’s book but it’s done subtly, and in a sweet understandable way.

Overall this is a beautiful book, one that has not only an original storyline but is beautifully produced. I think the ideas are good, I would have liked more of a moral woven in but it is a sweet story. Definitely worth a buy for a lovely bedtime story.

Linnnnnks

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Water Minute Mysteries 1-10 by P. Aaron Mitchell

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Hellllllo readers, it’s October where is the year going? It feels like only yesterday I turned 22 and yet, it’s been a month or so. This author sent me a lovely email that said he knew I was a big fan of Sherlock Holmes books, and that if I liked them I should read this. That is definitely a way to get my attention and after reading I thought wow, there is definitely an inkling there.

Short stories of enigma with The Professor, who provides all the clues for you to figure out each story’s one and only explanation. Solve them yourself, or read the solutions.

That’s a very succinct blurb there and it’s very easy way to show you the writing style of said author. The books are very short tales where the narrator (The Professor) tells the story of an event or a story and gives us a number of secret clues woven into the tale. After we finish the story there is a solution, or an explanation of what’s just happened and it’s all wrapped up rather neatly at the end. Some of the stories understandably include deaths but others are more subtle relating to family traumas, objects and the like.

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So what did I think? Well I’m pleased report I liked them a darn lot. Told in a simple style that suits the mysteries each is written with a real understanding of how to confuse the reader. Although the stories are short they are told with lots of little inner workings that you can assume is going to add up to the solution but I was hopeless at getting to the bottom of many of them. The pace is written well, they bump along a little slowly but often then are set in one of two scenes rather than a long drawn out but that works because they are short tales. I was surprised how much the author managed to pack into the stories and found it really nice that they were so detailed.

In terms of the writing style it isn’t my cup of tea but here it worked. It was short, sharp and to the point and it helped to make the stories more like riddles. Long flowing descriptions of the surroundings and the characters involved wouldn’t have worked here and the tighter writing style is definitely brilliant here. Despite this over the ten stories we do get an inkling of the personality of the Professor. A little more suave than our Holmes and with a small adoration for young women he is a bit of a sweetheart. He has a charming side, and he comes over a lot more friendly I think although we only get glimpses of him as a character. He has a sense of humour although a little mocking but he comes across as a kind-hearted fellow.

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My only wobble was that many of the solutions require knowledge relating to guns, car and aeroplanes. Although this is necessary to create the mysteries some of the stories although made sense didn’t give me that mystery satisfaction when the ending was revealed. Sherlock although does know knowledge of said things tends to rely on human nature, blemishes on the characters and physical attributes so I could solve them a lot easier. But, I liked the difference and I was really impressed at the level of detail shown by the author. Some of the stories are a little difficult to believe but they are really good to read and think about whether something so shocking could have happened.The only thing I really didn’t like was the cover and it was such a shame because the book was so lovely to read.

Overall a really quick read although it may take you a little while to get to the bottom of the stories. The writing style although not normally my idea of reading fun worked well here and helped to make the stories really memorable. I think a few more that were based more on domestic clues would have helped readers to guess the stories but maybe it’s me and my terrible general knowledge. A great deal of fun and mystery that I really want to read more of.

Linnnnks

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A Guest Post for MLBB: Thoughts about Reading Books while Writing Books

Consider the obvious when an author names one of their hobbies being reading. That would make a lot of sense; in a call-and-response kind of matter. An author wouldn’t be in the profession they’re in now if they didn’t read in their spare time and any author that doesn’t read is one that ought to not be trusted.

As an author myself, I too am just as adamant about reading as I am about writing, and an activity like that doesn’t stop when I’m creating reading material myself. I still read, amidst the story that’s swirling in my own head… and it’s the balance regarding switching between two different, fictional worlds at a time that remains to be a challenge.

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I’ve been a published author for a little over a year now. I released my debut novel, “A Moment’s Worth,” last year, and I’m currently in the editing stage for my second novel. I wrote the draft for the second novel in a little over six months, and during that time, I read a total of 10 books. Some of the books include: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, and “The Sun Gods” by Jay Rubin. These along with a graphic novel, a poetry collection, and a short story collection make up some of the books I’ve read during the drafting period for the second novel.

Anyone familiar with these titles knows that they’re not at all similar to one another. Sure, some of them may share similar strands, but they’re all just as different as they can get. One of them could easily be an incredibly long proverb with a plot, one of them easily falls under the historical fiction genre, one of them is a memoir, and one of them is yet another addition to the heightened dystopian genre. All the while, over on my end of the fiction sphere, without giving away my yet-to-be disclosed synopsis, I’ve been working on a novel that is more or less science/utopian fiction, with a twist of civil rights infused.

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For that matter, with the material in my head and whatever material I’ve been reading have, for the most part, differed greatly, and one can imagine how mind boggling it can get when jumping between works like that. One minute I may be writing a really heavy scene for my book, the next minute I’m reading up about how two gods from Filipino folklore came together and fell in love. It’s exhausting!
Words in books, when crafted in as clever of a way possible, can be powerful, and sometimes influential; so much as to where it can deter between passing through your mind without a second thought, or manifesting itself in your mind into a whole new thought experiment. In other words, you have a choice between being influenced by the work you’re reading, or not at all.

Out of the books that I’ve read during the drafting period, there were a few that I chose for thematic purposes; in attempt to further develop ideas of my own. I did something similar while writing my first novel; where I read a heap of David Mitchell’s novels, and I let them manifest in my head and aid me in the direction I wanted to take. I always say that it’s okay to have influences and inspirations, so long as you’re not stabbing them in the back and completely ripping them off.

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As for the books where I just want to read and enjoy and not mesh with the story in my head, I treat those in a different way. I treat books like those similar to how I would visit a different country; where I would respect the laws and customs there. I’m only there for a limited period of time before I’m on my way. For that matter, that’s why I’ve managed to switch between writing my novel, and then go off to read something completely different, like a fantasy tale or something. I don’t know if it’s from my nature as a bookworm that I’m able to do this, or my skills as a writer where I can simply get lost in my own world.

Either way, this is how I’m able to continue reading the books that I want to read while writing the books I want to write. It’s all about deciding which books you want to be influenced by, and which ones you simply want to “visit.” Just be sure that something is gained from the chosen path.

“Reading about journeys while on a journey is an intensely stimulating experience” –Umberto Eco

Written by Lauren Lola

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