Favourite books of 2015 so far...

Seeing as it's over half way through the year I thought I would do a round up of my favourite books that I've read in 2015. These are all books I've given either 4 or 5 stars for on Goodreads (I've had so many 3 star books this year...) 

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
A very touching story of Matthew and his experiences living with schizophrenia, and also coming to terms with the death of his younger brother as a child. This is at times very sad- but a beautiful read, written in an honest and warm conversational tone with lots of humour too. Full review here.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
I'm still yet to see the film adaption of Still Alice, a book about fifty something college professor Alice who finds out she has early onset Alzheimer's disease. As you can tell I enjoy reading books about mental illness and this one was written with such warmth and optimism whilst also giving a detailed portrayal that gave me a whole new insight into an illness that I previously didn't know much about. A hugely interesting and emotional read. Full review here.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July
The brilliantly strange story of Cheryl a forty something neurotic whose life gets thrown into chaos when her bosses daughter comes to stay with her. Miranda July has a beautiful way with words and manages to weave a dark, funny, and heart warming story of loneliness, wanting to be loved and motherhood. Full review here.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
A dark multi layered psychological crime thriller mostly set in rural Sweden. Daniel gets a phone call out of the blue from his father telling him his Mum is ill and is in a mental hospital, and that he should believe nothing she says. Soon after he gets a call from his Mum telling him that his father is lying, she's not mad and has uncovered a crime. Daniel and the reader then have to decide who is telling the truth, and whether a whole town is trying to uncover a string of dark crimes. A brilliant fast paced, suspense filled read! Full review here.

The Three by Sarah Lotz
Written in documentary style this charts the strange incidents occurring after Black Thursday; a day that four planes crash around the globe with only three children surviving. Full of twists and suspense I found this at times a little terrifying! Brilliantly written, and a clever look at the power of fear with an ending I had no idea was coming. Full review here.

Day Four by Sarah Lotz
A somewhat sequel to The Three, this time set aboard a cruise ship that becomes stranded and chaos ensues. More traditional horror than the first book, but with plenty of interesting characters and plot twists this kept me on the edge of my seat. Full review here.

What are your favourite books of 2015 so far?

Obsessions: Donuts...

Ever since I was a kid I've loved collecting things. Over the years I've collected all sorts of stuff from pin badges, vinyl records, Quentin Tarantino merch, Hello Kitty stuff, Funko Pops (you might have noticed that one!) and veering on the more random side anything to do with donuts!

I'm not sure what it is exactly that I'm drawn to about donuts (I'm not even a big fan of eating them...) but they are just so cute! So here are some of the donut related things I've accumulated. Do you collect anything strange?

[Donut pin badge, Hello Kitty donut deco tape, Happy Snacks donut plush, Hello Kitty donut key chain from Tesco, donut Notes, donut purse from New Look, Drop Dead donut ring, Fanbao donut plush, donut trinket box, Di Depux donut necklace.]

Current beauty favourites...

It's been so long since I have written any beauty posts on my blog, and to be honest I haven't really been wearing much make up of late. That was until a few weeks ago when I raided my stash and decided to put a full face on. I instantly felt a little better! It's surprising how much such little things can lift your mood.

So these are the products I've been loving lately...

Tony Moly Goddess Aura BB Cream: This BB cream works magic on my skin leaving it looking clear and even and glow-y!
Etude House Lock N Summer Cushion Blusher in Hey Yo! Pink: Great for a soft and Summery pink blush of colour this blends easily and lasts really well. 
Holika Holika Strawberry Pore Cover: a great all over base that smoothes the skin and makes my BB cream last easily all day.
Holika Holika Naked Face Concealer: I love this concealer! Great for my dark dark under eye circles it blends nicely without caking.
Tony Moly Circle Lens Mascara: This makes my lashes huge! It also separates them nicely too.
Mac Select Sheer Pressed Powder: just a great all round powder.
Holika Holika Pro:Beauty Tint Tok in Mango: a long lasting, moisturising and vibrant lip tint.
Revlon Lip Butter in Wild Watermelon: When I want a more vibrant lip colour this is what I reach for. I love the shade and am a sucker for the lip butters! 

[You may have noticed the pictures lately are worse than usual due to my camera dying a sad and painful death- I dropped it! At the moment I am having to use my phone for pictures but will hopefully have a new camera soon. Yay!]

Book review: The First Bad Man by Miranda July...

I was first introduced to Miranda July last Summer when I read her short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You (which also happened to be my first book review on this blog), and it got swiftly added to my favourite books list. The First Bad Man is July's first novel, and following on from her short story collection is full of strange and eccentric characters.

I don't want to give too much away, as I think this is the kind of book that you need to go into knowing little about the story. The book follows middle aged and neurotic Cheryl, who lives on her own and has a strict system for everything. She is secretly obsessed with Philip a board member at her work who has a dark secret of his own. Then her bosses ask if their twenty one year old daughter can stay with her and Cheryl's world gets turned upside down. 

If you've read any of July's writing before then you know she has no line when it comes to weirdness... this book is certainly strange and if you are easily offended you may find certain parts of this an uncomfortable read. Underneath the quirkiness though there is a hopeful story of love and a message than underneath it all we are all the same. Sure at first some of the characters are completely unrelateable, but the more you get to know them them more sympathetic they become. 

July has a skill in creating vulnerable, honest and lonely characters longing for love and she does so perfectly here. Her writing style is beautiful, and although it isn't quite as lyrical as her short story collection it is a pleasure to read. Her discriptions of unrequited love, loneliness, gender fluidity, motherhood, and hiding our true feelings from the world were perfect. This book is also full of dark humour that makes the the stranger stuff not quite so strange.

I gave The First Bad Man four stars, and I'm sure this book will find a place on my favourite books of 2015. If you like books that are very human, but also not afraid to go to weird places then read this immediately!    

"If you were wise enough to know that this life would consist mostly of letting go of things you wanted, then why not get good at the letting go, rather than the trying to have?"

Find more book reviews here.
My Goodreads.

Japanese snack: Glico Cream Caramel Macchiato...

In Japan every Summer Glico release a new limited edition flavour of their much loved snack Cream Collon. I've never tried Collon before (and I can't stop thinking of colon every time I see it...) but as soon as I saw the flavour Caramel Macchiato on Oyatsu Cafe as a coffee fiend I couldn't resist.

They arrived in a cute little box that is perfect for sharing (...or not mwahaha) and the snacks themselves are small tubes of sweet and crispy wafer with a caramel macchiato flavoured cream filling. As soon as you open the box the beautiful smell hits you- it's like I was in a coffee shop, seriously it's amazing! The snacks taste absolutely delicious and just like your sipping a caramel latte. So yummy! In fact these would make a perfect coffee accompaniment, or Oyatsu Cafe recommend putting them in the fridge for an hour and enjoying them chilled. Mine didn't last that long!

You can buy a pack here* for just £1.91
(*Affiliate link)

Recently watched...

I wanted to watch this purely for Melissa McCarthy who's films I always enjoy. Rather than a straight up comedy like I expected this was a full on spy action film mixed with comedy. It was a fun film, and McCarthy was great but surprisingly Jason Statham stole the show- he was hilarious in this. I'm not usually a fan of his, but he really needs to move to comedy. 

What We Do In The Shadows
This is a film from last year that I've been counting down the dvd release for so I can finally see it! A documentary style comedy about a gang of vampires in New Zealand who house share and are inadvertently given a lesson in modern life after they sire a young hipster and have to teach him their vampire ways. Brilliantly funny, and co-written and directed by one half of Flight of the Conchords.  

Terminator Genisys
The fifth film in the franchise, I'm pleased to say this is better than the last two! There was plenty of action and it was an entertaining watch, but it mainly just made me want to go and watch the first two films which are a million times better. Still there was a fun twist, and although the story didn't completely add up they were sure to leave it so they could come back and make sequel after sequel. I'm waiting for the one where Skynet send a terminator back to kill Sarah Conner's caveman ancestors... 

The Skeleton Twins
I'm a big fan of Kristen Wiig so have been looking forward to watching this one. It's a bittersweet drama about twins who after 10 years reconnect after one of them tries to commit suicide. The acting was great and it was a sweet (and at times very sad) film. If you're expecting a comedy you'll be disappointed but Hader and Wiig really excel here in serious roles.

Book review: Normal by Graeme Cameron...

He lives on your street, in a nice house with a tidy garden. He shops at your local supermarket.. He drives beside you, waving to let you in the lane ahead of him.

He also has an elaborate cage in a secret basement. The food he's shopping for is to feed a young woman he's holding there against her will- one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it's been for a long time. It's normal... and it works. Perfectly. But this time it's different.

Normal is Graeme Cameron's debut novel, told from the perspective of a serial killer and promising to be darkly humorous and twisted I couldn't resist. Unfortunately it just didn't live up to my expectations. For a book told from the perspective of a serial killer who keeps girls locked in a cage in the basement the book was too... nice! I felt like there was just too much emphasis on making him seem normal, It felt like I was reading a book about a killer written by Nick Hornby. It was a light easy read, but it just wasn't anywhere near dark enough. 

Without trying to be too negative there where a few interesting characters (which where stronger than the main character) and the ending felt fitting. Erm... struggling to find more positives...

The main character's name is never revealed, in fact very little is revealed about him. I get that the writer was trying to make a point that he's a normal guy hiding in plan sight, but it didn't do the story any favours. We get no insight into why he does what he does- for a book that's written from a serial killers perspective I feel that's a huge missed opportunity! 

Overall I found Normal a disappointment, if you are looking for a decent dark thriller I would say look elsewhere!

You can find my other book reviews here.
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Pop In A Box July...

Woo! It's July's Pop in a Box delivery, and this month it seems to have come round so quick. They were extra quick with dispatching this month and yet again they have outdone themselves! When I got a huge box delivered I had a feeling there wasn't going to be just a standard pop inside (this month I had a 1 pop sub).....

As soon as I opened the box I'm not ashamed to admit I did a happy dance as my bemused family looked on. But when I showed them what was in the box they understood! It's my first pop ride, and none other than The Crystal Ship from Breaking Bad with Jesse inside!

I've unboxed it and it's sitting on my bookshelf with Jesse looking unimpressed. I love it! Thanks Pop in a Box 

If you collect or want to collect Pop! Vinyls then PIAB is a great subscription service that allows you to choose which pops you want and don't want meaning your monthly mystery sub will always be a pop that you actually want! For my other PIAB posts go here.

(I'm not sponsored in any way by PIAB, just a happy customer!) 

Ebay picks...

Tony Moly Wonder Water Moisture Cream £13.66 here
Pulp Fiction Tee £12.99 here
Tony Moly Luminous Goddess Aura BB Cream £7.78 here
Etude House Dr. Mascara Fixer £4.68 here
Hatsune Miku keyring 99p here
Adventure Time Mystery Mini figure and tin £15.49 here

Book review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill...

I read Only Ever Yours some time ago but keep putting off writing my review as I am just not sure exactly where I stand with it and I have so many opinions...

Set in a dystopian future where girls are created to be "perfect" Only Ever Yours is about best friends Freida and Isobel aged sixteen in their last year of school. This is the age when they are chosen (by men) to either become a wife (who is expected to pop out babies), a concubine or if the men have no interest in them at all a chastity (basically a nun.)

On the surface I found the story fascinating. Clearly mirroring in an exaggerated way the pressures of girls growing up and feeling the pressures of living in a man's world. A lot of the themes are true to today's society. 

At the forefront of Only Ever Yours was weight. A lot of the girls were forced into eating disorders because of the pressure to be thin. It was hammered in at every opportunity, about how being fat was the worst thing a girl could possibly be. One of the characters began overeating and became overweight and was ostracised from the group. I won't lie- it was a difficult read because the fat shaming was nasty and constant. 

Other themes were the obsession with social media- and the desperation to get likes, and be popular. The girls where constantly competing to get more likes on their versions of Instagram and Facebook. As well as that was the over sexualisation of women. The girls idealised rap stars who's videos depicted them with naked concubines on leashes and in PE class they did pole dancing but where also slut shamed if they didn't want to be a concubine and had sex before marriage. There was the disgust for any woman older than thirty, the double standards of men being allowed to be fat (although they were judged by their wealth and profession.)

The girls weren't taught to read, as being intelligent was frowned upon. When one girl says she thinks personality matters, her classmates response is "personality does NOT matter. All that matters is being pretty, you...you feminist." Also interesting was the fact that all female character's names throughout the book where all lower case, and named after models. The men where all named after famous philosophers, inventors, and leaders.

These are all important themes, that should be questioned but here's my problem with the book. Firstly it was written very much in the style of a day in the life of a plastic (from Mean Girls.) We get endless pages of shallow girls whining about their hair and outfits, sniping about each others weight and what they are eating, bullying any girl that isn't pretty or thin enough. Personally it was driving me mad! There was no likeable character. Isobel could have been really interesting but she wasn't in it enough, and honestly I just wanted to punch Freida in the face.

The second problem I had with the book is that I felt the important message it had was lost in the shallowness. It just wasn't made clear enough the this way of thinking is wrong- there was no consequence or satisfying conclusion. In fact it was the opposite. It felt like the book was saying, "there's nothing you can do, you can't fight it. Just play the game." It felt too defeatist and futile. 

I know this book tends to get a love/hate reaction but I just don't know what to think of it. Personally the negatives are too strong for me to love it, but it was certainly an interesting and thought provoking read. I've been told that this is a weaker version of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood- a book that I will definitely investigate. Overall though I am glad that I read it, a book that provides a strong reaction, good or bad is always worth it!

Find all my other book reviews here.
My Goodreads.

Pop in a Box June...

For June I decided to up my Pop in a Box subscription to two pops after getting such a great one last month. When it arrived it was a huge box so I had a feeling it was going to be something special... 

I got the 6" Thanos pop! He is HUGE and so cool. I also got the roller derby Harley Quinn on her skates holding her mallet. Double win!

To see my other PIAB posts click here.

Lately... June

On the 13th I had to go into hospital for surgery so took it as an excuse to stock up on some stuff to occupy my whilst I was recovering. I watched What We Do In The Shadows straight away though as I've been dying to see this! It's brilliant :)

On the 27th it was my nieces fourth Birthday, I can't believe how quick the time has gone! We had a little party for her and she had a great time in her new Belle dress. I bought her the Jack Skellington and Zero Funko Pops as The Nightmare Before Christmas is her favourite film. She was very happy with them, I'm slowly getting everyone addicted to pops!

I recently discovered Ambivalently Yours through Instagram and have fallen in love with her artwork. The quirky creepy style appeals to me but I also love the messages her pieces convey.

My sister surprised me with a get well present of the Poison Ivy Vinyl Vixen. I love these figures they are great quality and so cute.

Other stuff...

  I've been addicted to YouTube channels Decocookie and Japanesestuff as well as EmmyMadeinJapan and Screen Junkies (I love their honest trailers.)

 I've also been buying way more tee shirts than I should from Tee Fury and Qwertee. I've got in the habit of checking their sites daily which is bad for my bank balance!

 I've just started watching series 3 of Orange is the New Black. I hate to say it but so far it's just not been on the same level as the amazing-ness of the first two series. Hopefully it will get better...