Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Review: The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons

(This review is pretty much directly taken from my goodreads, so if you happen to be friends we me on there and have already read my review, I'll forgive you if you want to skip this post...)

I had heard about this book through Little Book Owl's channel - she completely raved about it - so when I was wandering through the library one day I decided to pick it up. Oh my goodness.

Set in 1941, this is the story of 17 year old Tatiania and her family, and their experiences in the first few months of the Soviet Union's involvement with World War Two. However, it isn't just the war that is changing Tatiana's life irrevocably - as she is going to the shops one morning she meets Alexander (a Red Army solider). 

This story is so beautifully written and just so heart breakingly moving, it is really hard to put down once you've picked it up. It's the first book if this kind that I read (adult, set in the past, war romance) and I really enjoyed the reading experience. It is a very long book, but the story is pretty well sustained throughout - although there is one section about 4/5 of the way through in which I started to get more than a little annoyed with all of the characters (it felt like I was reading the same passage over and over and the whole plot wasn't moving anywhere or even building up to anything). However, the ending is dramatic and powerful. At one point I was unsure if I would try to pick up the second book, but now I know I just have to.

Like I've said, overall I love the main characters, however this isn't to say they are without flaw, and at times their interactions sent me up the wall. I'm not going to go into details because spoilers, but be prepared to want to punch all of them at one point or another. This being said, it's probably what makes them so human - they have flaws and are not the perfect 'star crossed lovers'.

This is the perfect book to read on a cold winters night - the cold outside would make the freezing Russian winter come to life even more graphically than it does in the book. Really recommend this book, especially if you already like the historical/war romance genre.

I gave it 4/5 on goodreads, but I'm probably going to give it a 3.75 on here, just because I did get very annoyed with the whole book at one or two points because of the poor momentum etc.

I've decided to try to bring back the 'currently reading' thing that I used to do, hopefully now I'm free to read books I want, they'll actually be interesting!

Best Wishes,


Currently Reading: The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

Monday, 10 June 2013

Body Image

TW: Anorexia, Bulimia, Eating Disorders.

(side note, Laci Green expresses a lot of these views a lot better than I do on her YouTube channel, Sex+. A couple of really good videos can be found here and here)

'Tis the season for bikinis, and lately I've been thinking a lot about body image, societies relationship to body, and my own personal relationship to both food and my body.

Body image can mean a lot of things: the way your body looks, the way society views your body and the way your body looks to you. And although this might sound the same, these can often be vastly different. For example, a person may be 20 stone, feel beautiful and love their body. However, sadly society would perceive them as ugly and fat. Equally, a person may be 8 stone and hate their body, even though society would view them as having a perfect figure. These situations are specific to weight, but when you add proportions, age and gender into the mix, this becomes an even bigger mess of opinions and generalisations.

The way the human body is viewed has changed a lot over the course of history, particularly in regards to 'beauty' (ie, what we perceive to be the perfect body). I'm going to talk specifically about women in this post, not only because I am one so I understand society and its relationship to my body (as well as how my female friends and family feel about their body image), but also because what is considered beautiful in women is more exclusive (not only to each era but female perfect is an exclusive concept) and more widely discussed in the media (think tabloids, gossip mags and adverts etc).

So, let’s start from a sort of beginning. Being on the larger side used to be attractive and considered beautiful. If you look at any old painting of a women you'll see she is larger stomached and smaller busted than a pin up today would be. (You can see images photoshopped to more modern standards next to the originals here). There is a very simple reason for this: women who were larger were not only wealthier (they could afford fattening foods) but were also healthier (again, because they had a better, wider, fuller diet). It all came down to reproduction: you wanted the best chance that when you get a women pregnant she will give birth to a healthy child who will grow up in a well-off family.

Then something shifted in our culture. People became wealthier as a society, so they stopped looking to women whose bodies could support a family. Instead, the fashion industry became the go to for information of body type and its relationship to beauty. Since the end of the second world war, this image has fluctuated between two distinct types - the ironing board and the hourglass.

The ironing board refers to women who are tall, slim, with small chests, waists and hips, so their body essentially goes straight up and down (think Kiera Knightly).

The hourglass refers to women who are tall, slim, with larger chests and hips than waists (think Marilyn Monroe or Christina Hendricks).

You'll notice that both associate beauty with being tall and slim - this is because fashion designers produce stock sizes for their models and want to show their clothes off so they look the best. They believe their clothes look good on taller, slimmer people.

Anyway, so society fluctuated between women of these two sizes between 1920 (ish) and the late 1990s (for example, 20s flappers = ironing boards, 50s pin ups = hourglass, 80-90s androgyny = ironing boards). Now, there is a pretty decent mix of the two, often combining in a woman who had a fuller bust but a flat stomach and tiny waist (Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Jourdan Dunn or Miley Cyrus spring to mind).

So all this is going on in society, with women with these figures being placed in the spotlight, whilst women of other figures are ridiculed. This is known as fat shaming - a phrase which commonly refers to when larger women are discriminated because of their size, but I am also going to use it to describe the same effect on women who are thinner. The former type is much more common, and images of women with these figures (in particular the ironing board figure which is arguably more coveted in the fashion industry) can often end up being a trigger for mental illnesses and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Women are told that they need to look a certain way and can feel a lot of pressure to conform to these standards of beauty.

Needless to say, this is wrong and bad. Not only that, but these perceptions of beauty and many of the arguments that support them (specifically health arguments) are often false. The most important thing is that you love your body, no matter what shape or size. For the UK the average dress size is 14-16. However, women still feel the need to conform the images shown in fashion magazines depicting 'size 0' (UK size 4) models.

The fashion industry are taking baby steps to acknowledge their role in the perception of beauty in society (there is a fabulous article by a 'plus size model' here, in which she discusses the pressures of being a model and the semantics around the term 'plus size'). But they are only baby steps.

Now, most of this post has been about beauty generally. I'm going to try and articulate something I have been coming to terms with recently: my own perception of my body image and my relationship with food.

Overall, I quiet like my body. I'm about 5ft 5" and weigh somewhere in the region of 8.5 stone. On BMI charts I sit around the 19-20 marl, which is healthy for a girl my age, height and weight. This doesn't mean I'm 100% happy with the way I look though.

I am a victim of the 'flat stomach' desire. I want a flatter stomach and I know I can get one. I feel 10 times bigger than I was last summer (despite the fact that the guy I'm seeing says I haven't changed and my mum thinks I look the same) and I know I'm a lot less healthy. I've been eating more and exercising less, it's really as simple as that.

I used to be able to brush off feelings of unhealthiness, go on health kicks and feel better about myself. But this time, I've really sunk into a rut, thinking that everybody around me is so much thinner and prettier. I shouldn't aspire to be thinner. I know I'm healthy, and I know a lot of people want my body type. I also know I'm unhappy in my skin, so I want to change that. However, this feeling of general unhealthiness as for the first time highlighted to me my own relationship with food. Which is by no means as healthy as I'd like it to be. I categorize foods into good and bad. I reward myself with food, as well as deny myself it. I count calories obsessively.

Now I know this is ridiculous. I know that if I acted on many of my food feelings I would end up becoming seriously unhealthy, and part of me worries that it's only because I've got my mum feeding me that I eat proper sized portions at all (too bigger portions in my eyes, but I eat them because she gives them to me).

This has been a huge realisation for me. I've started to do more exercise and eat more regularly (ie, cutting out snacks and eating larger meals). So that feels better. I've also started to go for walks more regularly, to get myself up out of my computer seat and into the fresh air, which always makes me feel healthier anyway. I'm going to try not to worry about my tummy in my bikini on holiday, and sort out any issues I have afterwards.

So, mostly I'm feeling good. However, society and its relationship to the female body is still hugely flawed. I might do another post this week on ownership of the female body, because as I've said it's something I've been thinking a lot about recently.

Best Wishes, 


If you suffer from any of the issues mentioned, and would like to talk about it, you can visit your local doctor, visit or

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Reading Slump and Holiday TBR

Don't get me wrong. I adore books. If there was a job which only required me to read books that would be the job for me. I watch book-tubers, I read book blogs, and quite a large portion of my output on this blog has probably been book reviews. But every once in a while, I hit a reading slump. And it is the worst.

I have barely read at all since the read-a-thon in the middle of last month. I didn't even finish the book I was reading during the read-a-thon, despite the fact I'm only 20 pages from the end. I don't know why, I just haven't picked up a book.

Hopefully, however, this will all change sooner rather than later! I'm going to finish that book if not tonight then definitely tomorrow. Plus I bought myself a couple of books when I popped into Waterstones the other day, and have been staring at the covers ever since in the hope it will re-inspire me to read again.

As I said yesterday, I'm going on holiday for a fortnight at the end of the week, and whilst I won't be taking any physical books with me (too big and too heavy), I will be taking my lovely Kindle. Last holiday i took my Kindle on I was so paranoid about the sand that I barely read on the holiday (I read Alice in Wonderland on the plane), but this year we're in-land, so fingers crossed I can get some books tackled!

All this being said, here's a short holiday TBR:

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The first two on this list are the ones I'd really like to have a go at, but if I do finish them, then I'll move on to Treasure Island. I'm really not fussed if I don't get round to finishing or even starting all or any of these books, but I like to have something set out in my mind to read. I might also have a look at an Austen (either P&P because I can always re-read that, or one of the ones I haven't read yet (Emma, Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey) just because she is such a nice little read). But I'll not get my hopes up just yet...

I'll let you know how I get on once I'm home!

Happy Reading,


Saturday, 8 June 2013

Beauty: Product Reviews (Volumizing Powder and Rimmel Polish)

Hey gang.

So after my last, rambling, boring, self-indulgent post, I thought I better do something a bit more useful/interesting, so here's a couple of quick little reviews.

1) Schwarzkopf Got2be Powder'ful Volumizing Styling Powder (£4-ish) Ok, so this is advertised pretty much constantly on E4, and I'd heard some good things about it, so I thought I'd pick it up and give it a go. I really struggle with flat hair - my hair is so fine and thin it doesn't really have any texture to it at the roots, and because its long and curly it tends to get all it's body around my chin - the result of which leaves me with 'triangle issues'. I had some high hopes for this product - and was disappointed for a number of reasons. Firstly, you can only apply it when your hair is dry. I hadn't seen this note when I bought the product, and if I had I probably wouldn't have bothered. It is impossible for me to style my hair when it's dry - it turns into a wispy mess. Every time I've used the product I've just felt frizzy, which is something I've been trying to avoid my whole life. Secondly, the texture. Whilst it definitely gives body to my roots, its feels disgusting and dry in my normally shiny hair. I hated it. If you pour it into your hands, as directed, it also leaves them feeling sticky, and it's really hard to wash off. This said, when I have used it, it has definitely boosted my volume, and has been useful if I'm heading out and don't have time to wash and dry my hair. 2/5 sunbeams.

2) Rimmel I Love Lasting Finish Nail Polish (£2.99) I'd been looking for an orange nail polish for a while, and when I picked up 200 Orange Your Life thought I'd found a great one. Under the shop lights it looked perfect, however, when I actually put it on at home, it was a lot pinker and a lot more neon that I had anticipated. Whilst it's still a great, fun, summery colour, it wasn't what I was looking for. A few days later I was serving someone at the kiosk when I spotted their nail colour - and immediately had to ask where they'd got it from. Lo and behold, it was from this exact same collection, in the colour 705 Tangy Tangerine. It was the perfect colour - light and summery, a nice peachy orange. The only problem I have with this range is the application - its very streaky. I'm not the best at applying nail polish anyway, so I have real issues with this. Also, for a lasting finish nail polish, it doesn't really last for longer than a day before it starts chipping. Again this could be because it's very hard to apply it evenly. Overall, however, I give it 3.5/5 sunbeams. I almost gave it a 4 but the application really let it down.

Hopefully I'll get the chance to write a couple more posts this week before I head off to France for a fortnight!

Best Wishes