Tuesday, 30 December 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday: B. Skincare

To complete my two part look into the B. product range here is my review of some of their skincare products! If you missed my cosmetics review post you can find that here.

Glycolic Cleansing Peel. This face mask works wonders. You apply a small amount (about the size of a large pea) all over your face, leave for three minutes then wash off using the muslin cloth supplied. It has a really milky consistency, leaves my skin feeling really fresh. It is a peel in the sense that the glycolic acid strips a layer of your skin off rather than a mask that you peel off. I probably use it twice a week, and although the product suggests using it in the evening I often use it in the morning and don't notice a difference in results. It says its suitable for combination, dry and oily skin, which I would agree with.

Micellar Water. I've heard loads about these new micellar water products that every makeup company is bringing out. I don't think its the miracle product that everyone is saying it is, but it does a good job on  lazy day when I can't be bothered to take off my make-up, cleanse and tone. I don't think it does an amazing job of breaking down eye-make-up, in particular my waterproof mascara, so I normally remove that with a separate product before using this one. When i run out of my current toner I'll probably use this instead.

Exfoliating Cleanser. I wouldn't necessarily call this product and exfoliant. Even though it does have microbeads in it, the formula is so milky that it doesn't feel very abrasive - which is great if you have sensitive skin. The most exfoliating aspect of this product is probably the salicylic acid, which is meant to unblock pores. I've been loving it, and the longer I've used it the happier I've been - and since I was looking for a two in one exfoliant and cleanser to use in the shower in the mornings this one fit the bill nicely. My housemate gave this product a try out and loved it so much she couldn't stop!

Night Serum. I got this in skin phase one - for use in your twenties and thirties. I'd wanted to try a night serum for a while, so when I saw this was half price I picked it up. It applies really well, it soaks in pretty quickly and doesn't sit on the skin, and when I wake up in the morning the skin still feels moisturised. I'm pretty happy with it so far!

I'm really looking forward to trying more B. products as they grow as a company and start to expand their range. If you've tried any B. products, let me know by tweeting me @VickiMaitland or leaving a comment below.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Blogmas 25: We Made It!

Looks like we all made it to Christmas! Well done us!

When I was little, Christmas was about the excitement of seeing if Santa had come, of opening gifts and of dressing up. Now, don't get me wrong, I still get a thrill on Christmas morning thinking about the presents under the tree, but nowadays for me Christmas is all about love. You get gifts for people you care about. You receive gifts from people who care about you. You spend your day with people who love you and people you love - whether that be friends, family, or significant others.

I hope so much that all of you are spending Christmas in this way. There may well be arguments, there may well be stress, but at the end of the day you're spending Christmas with people you love.

I hope you've all enjoyed Blogmas - I certainly have (although I'm pretty glad it's over!). My next post will be up on Tuesday the 30th (it's a B. Skincare Review). For the more savvy amongst you, that means I'm missing my usual Friday post, but since you'll be getting 26 posts this month rather than my usual 6 I hope you can forgive me for taking a day off!

For now, enjoy your Christmas, in which ever way you spend it. Eat, drink, and be merry. Live in the spirit of Christmas every day of the year.

For those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, take a moment to think about the people you care about today. Don't worry - the garish and tacky decorations will be down soon!!

Best wishes, and Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Blogmas 24: Festive Make-up Look

This is my current go-to festive make-up. It's suitable for day or night at this time of year, and is really wearable.

So here's my face without anything on it - except moisturiser.

First things first, I primed my face using B. Illuminating Primer. You can check out my review here.

Next up I used Soap and Glory Kick-Ass Concealer in the shade light. It's actually my sisters, but my concealer is running out so I borrowed it. I use it as a highlighter too - running it down my nose, in a star on my forehead, above my cupids bow and on my chin as well as under my eyes.


In the with the foundation. I use my M&S Limited Collection Foundation in nude.

To set everything, I dust my face with E.L.F Pressed Powder in sand.

 I used the E.L.F Pressed Powder in buff as a contour colour. I use it in the hollows of my cheeks, in my temples, around my forehead and under my chin.

Then I go in with my M&S Blush in Cinnamon.

In the inner corners of my eyes I used Estee Lauder shadow in the shade Vanilla. As you can see I'm almost out, so I need to find a cruelty free dupe. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

All over my lid I used this nude shade from Avon Nocturnal pallet. 

In my crease I used this dark brown shade from my E.L.F pallet.

 And then blended everything out.

All over my lid I pressed this B. Vibrant Eye Shimmer in the shade golden sands.

Here's the finished shadow look.

I ran some more of the dark brown E.L.F colour under my eyes.

I lined my eyes using my E.L.F Liquid Eyeliner in black.

To let my liner dry, I filled in my brows next. I use B. Eyebrow Kit in the shade dark brown.

Next I used my E.L.F Waterproof Volumising and Lengthening Mascara in black.

To finish the look I lined and filled my lips with Barry M Lip Liner in shade number 3, then topped them with Hema Longer Lasting Lipstick in shade number 6.

Here's the finished look. Sorry about the shadow on my chin! I didn't notice it on the small camera screen.

Let me know if you try out this look by tweeting me @VickiMaitland  or leaving a comment below!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Blogmas 23: On Things Not Going To Plan

Today, I had planned to upload a festive make-up look.

I'd taken all the pictures and written up most of the post, but, due to computer problems, I couldn't transfer the images from my sisters camera to my laptop. I also had a really busy day - went for the Christmas food shop with Mum, then had all my girls over for 'Galmas', then went out for drinks. I've typing this having just got off the train.

Even though things didn't go to plan, I still had a lovely day - one of the best days I've had in a while. It was so lovely to see all of my girls again, and have a proper catch up.

Unfortunately for you guys, it means that this is the post you're getting. Sorry.

The festive look will be up tomorrow - so long as the laptop transfers go to plan. But, if there's something that Christmas has taught me, it's that you've got to roll with it when things don't turn out the way you thought. So long as you're with friends and family who love and care for you, then things have a way of working out alright.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Blogmas 22: Tea!

Running the risk that this might be a little too stereotypically British, but today I'd like to have a chat about tea.

I love tea.

I pretty much always have a bag or two on me - tucked into my pencil case or my purse - which might sound a little ridiculous, but a cup of tea can often cost upwards of £1.50, where-as hot water is either significantly less or free.

As I've developed a little bit of a cold (again! I've had bad luck this winter) I'm drinking tea by the gallon. Slightly controversially, I don't really like builder's tea. Black tea is alright, but I've gone off milk, and whilst it is nice with a slice of lemon I much prefer herbal and green teas.

My favourite brand is Pukka, so I thought I'd tell you about all the ones I've tried. They retail for £2.40 for a box of 20, which is a little bit pricey. I normally buy them on offer for £2 each, and they are really worth the money. They taste so much nicer than other herbal teas I've tried - mostly thanks to the addition of licorice (as far as I can tell) which gives them a really sweet aftertaste.

Clean Green - As you can guess, this is Pukka's green tea (with lemon!). It is delicous, not bitter at all like most other green teas, and I have a cup every morning to kick start my day. Green tea has loads of health benefits too, as well as a low dose of caffeine.

Serene Green - Another green tea, this time with lavender and jasmine. I liked it, but not as much as the clean green version.

Night Time - With a blend of oat flower, lavender and chamomile this is the perfect drink to send you off to sleep. I drink one every night and it is so soothing.

Cleanse - This tea claims to have skin cleansing properties, but I don't notice any difference when I drink it! Peppermint and Nettle flavoured, it's lovely to drink after meals. I've actually swapped this tea out for the...

Peppermint and Licorice - This tea has a much minty-er flavour than the Cleanse tea, and a sweeter aftertaste too. Delicious.

Three Cinnamon - This tea is what it says on the packet, and is the perfect Autumnal drink. I love dunking malted milk biscuits in.

Detox - I got this aniseed and fennel tea because I thought it would be good to drink after a night out. It's my least favourite out of the ones I've tried, mostly because it doesn't really have much of a taste.

Original Chai - I don't often drink black tea, but when I do it's this. Either just with water, or into hot milk to make a chai latte, this tea is very festive!

Have you tried any of these tea's? Let me know by tweeting me @VickiMaitland or leaving a comment below!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Blogmas 21: Fashion Sense

I've never really considered myself a stylish person. Always slightly gawky, and a little uncomfortable, I've never been up on the latest trends. Nevertheless, the other day a friend told me I always dress nicely. So, what's changed?

I still wouldn't call myself stylish, but I think I'm more style conscious than I used to be. I experiment more with clothes, and I think I've figured out what does and doesn't suit me. I look closer at what other people wear and think: does that look good on them? Why? Would it look good on me?

But most importantly I'm more confident than I used to be. Not only with my body, but in my mind I'm more self-assured. And that has been a huge learning curve for me.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say with this post. I think I just wanted to examine what gives me the right to post outfit-of-the-day pictures. And I think it's not because I think I'm the most fashionable and want everyone to copy my style, but rather because I think I look good in something, and other people might agree nor they may not, but either way they can go through that same thought process that I do when I look at someone else's outfit.

Tomorrow's post will be about tea, so get your bags brewing ready!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Blogmas 20: Deleted Scenes

All writing is in the editing, and as I'm only a couple of edits away form my final draft of my dissertation I thought I'd share with you one of the scenes which didn't make it in. This was the first ever scene I wrote for my dissertation, and was inspired by something which happened to me as I sat outside reading over the summer. Originally, this was going to be the first scene of the story, and I still really like it as an opener, but it just didn't work with the rest of the story. 

She sat, staring at the dead mouse. She had been halfway through her homework when she noticed it and, completed homework in a small pile, she examined it from a distance. It was about half a meter to her right, laying on its side, its limbs not quite stiff in the way people say limbs are when an animal dies. It was strange dusty brown colour, like cobwebs had tangled in its fur as it scurried through a crack in the wall. There weren’t any flies around it – and she knew from walking past road kill every morning on the way to the bus that flies tend to gather pretty quickly – so she guessed it couldn’t have been dead for very long, yet she was pretty sure it had been dead before she sat down to do her homework. She thought it looked small, although she was sure it was no smaller than the average field mouse and besides she had thought that her grandmother had looked small too, so perhaps everything looked smaller in death.

It was at this thought, the memory of her grandmother lying in bed, looking all the ways you’re told dead looks, that she collected up her work and moved inside the house. It was midday in early June, and Britain was in the middle of an early summer. Not for the first time that year, it was noticeably cooler inside the house. As she sorted her work into the relevant folders she had the nagging sensation that she should have probably moved the mouse, just in case one of the local cats decided to have an afternoon snack. Not that they regularly ate dead things – there was no fun in that – but you can never know what an animal will do, and she wasn’t entirely convinced that the mouse had died from natural causes, what with the quantity of rat poison which sat hidden in every barn and garage in the area. She pulled a plastic bag from the tube full of them – the tube that her grandmother had sewn for her mother one Christmas – and went back outside. The mouse was still lying there.

Not that she thought it would have moved, but being alone in the house had a funny way of making her nervous about things she wouldn’t normally be nervous about. She crept over to it, as if she didn’t want to disturb it, and, placing her hand in the bag, picked it up. At first she didn’t think she’d got up, but as she lifted her hand she felt its fragile weight slip through the plastic and it hit the ground again. She gave a small squeal. It looked up at her and she screwed her eyes tight as she picked it up for the second time, this time getting a firm hold and pulling the sides of the bag up and around it before she could drop it again. She tied off the bag and dropped it in the green bin outside.

Tomorrow's post will be a beauty one, but I haven't quite decided what it'll be about yet, so you can tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below if you have any requests.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Blogmas 19: Christmas Jumpers

With less than a week till Christmas, we are well and truly in the festive season. Tinsel, fairy lights and mince pies are all well and good, but what is more festive than the good old fashioned Christmas jumper? At home anything goes, and even the cheesiest of Christmas jumpers can be worn with matching leggings and Rudolph socks, but for those of us who aren’t confident enough to pull off that look on campus Venue is here to show you how to style up the Christmas jumper for everyday wear. Whether you are a fan of the-tackier-the-better or prefer a more conservative nod towards the season of good will, there is a Christmas jumper out there for you.

The ‘So-Tacky-Its-Trendy’
For the confident Christmas enthusiast this is a winter must have. Anything that plays a song or lights up when you press a button falls under this category, and should be worn with care. Finish your look with classic black or navy jeans, ankle boots and a wool coat in a deep grey. With a jumper this loud, you can let it do all the talking, and matching it with darker items will really make the colours pop. Primark have a huge range of these jumpers in at the moment so you can get into the Christmas spirit without breaking the bank.

The Santa
For people who like to show a bit of Christmas love, this is the perfect jumper. Whether it’s emblazoned with Old Saint Nick’s rosy cheeks, Rudolph’s shining nose or a snowman in his scarf, you can guarantee this will be sequinned, glittered and pom-pom-ed to the max. This is another jumper that speaks for itself, so wear with neutral toned jeans, boots and coat. Showing a hint of a crisp white collar is a great way to smarten up this look.

The Slogan
Slightly subtler than ‘The Santa’, you need to read this jumper to see its full Christmas potential. Lyrics to classic Christmas songs, hilarious elf-based puns (who’s taking an #elfie this Christmas?) and everything in between can be found written across these jumpers. Pair this with ripped jeans, biker boots and top with a bobble hat. BooHoo have a huge range of these out, and with that 10% student discount you can’t go wrong!

The Winter Animal
Over Christmas, robins, polar bears and penguins tend to find their way onto our jumpers. Whilst not strictly Christmas-related, these jumpers give a cheeky wink towards the holiday season. These types of jumper tend to come on a sweater fabric rather than a wool, so you can cover yourself with knitted accessories without looking like a giant ball of wool! A mid-length black skirt and a faux fur headband would look great with this. If you’re a little more on the daring side, pleather trousers or skirts would contrast well with the cuteness and fluff of the jumper.

The Fairisle
A Christmas classic, this is one of our most conservative looks for the holiday season. Reindeers and snowflakes can be easily smuggled onto this jumper, and with its nod towards our Scandinavian friends this jumper can be worn all through the winter months. You can wear this with your new favourite skort and thick woollen tights (or corduroy trousers for that stylish Geography teacher look). And remember, Christmas knitwear doesn’t only come in jumper form; this print can be found on leggings, skirts and gloves too – although we wouldn’t recommend wearing them all at once!

So whether you love them or whether the whole season makes you want to grumble ‘Bah! Humbug’, there’s no denying that in the Christmas jumper is in style and here to stay – at least until Boxing Day.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Blogmas 18: End of Term Review

At the start of the term, I wrote my New Term Resolutions. Now that term is over, let's see how well I did!

1) Do not sit in bed on laptop. Well, for the most part I think I've done this. I have definitely slipped up a couple of times...

2) Get outside every day. Again, I think I've done pretty well at this - especially in the last month of term when I was in the library almost every single day.

3) Exercise daily. Oops. I have not done this at all! Aside from cycling onto campus and occasionally to work, I've done very little actual exercise. Hopefully this will change in the new year!

4) Eat well and often. I've definitely done this. My diet has been mostly vegetarian - very vegetable heavy! I've treated myself to cups of hot chocolate and chai lattes, but other than that I've eaten pretty well.

5) Drink often. Again, I've done this for sure! Herbal tea is a huge part of my diet, and when I go on campus I always take a big bottle of water.

6) Work 9-5. I haven't done this all semester, but when the work load stepped up I have definitely been packing in the hours at the library.

7) Complete all reading well in advance. Again, I've pretty much done this too! A couple of times I've had to quickly read the day before, but nothing too last minute.

8) Start essays early. This hasn't been too much of a problem because of my module structure this semester, Next semester I think it'll be more of an issue, so this one is definitely being carried over to next year!

9) Use tutors office hours. Again, because of my modules this hasn't been a problem, and tutorials have been part of my assessment.

10) Be kind to myself, but exercise willpower. This one I'm a bit unsure of. I'm a huge procrastinator when it comes to work, so I could probably do better on that front. However, I've done better about not kicking myself when I think I've had a lazy day.

11) Keep my space clean. This one has yo-yo-ed a bit, but for the most part I've had a tidy room. As soon as I started thinking about it as self care and not tidying, its been a lot cleaner.

12) Plan and organise. I've done pretty well with this? I think? My diary keeping has got worse towards the end of term, but on the whole it's been pretty good.

13) Write more. I have written more but not in the way I expected. I'd like to try keeping a diary again, so this is another one to roll over to next year.

14) Read for fun rather than internet mindlessly. I've done this a bit, but not as much as I'd like to. The internet is just so distracting! Another roll over resolution!

15) Go out spontaneously. I have definitely done this! I think the fact that I've been more on top of my workload has really helped me feel freer to go out.

16) BUDGET. I was great at doing this at the start of term, not so much as it went on. I treat myself to clothes and makeup way too much, which combats my otherwise minimal spending.

17) Join more societies. I haven't done this. I've got more involved with FemSoc, but I've hardly been to Creative Writing, and I haven't joined anything new. It's more difficult than I realised to fit everything in. I would like to try out other things, though, so might try a few more in the new year.

18) Sit up straight. Oops. Had to sit up just now. Something to keep working on, I think...

19) Ask for hugs and massages. I haven't done this - and its something I still really need to do!

20) Be proud of what I produce, and be unafraid of speaking up. For the first time I've been sharing my blog posts on facebook, which was actually a pretty big thing for me! Something to keep working on though.

And that is it. Overall I think I've done okay, although there are for sure some things I really need to improve. Have you got any resolutions for the New Year? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Blogmas 17: Unconventional Christmas Songs

In my Fifteen Festive Favourites, I said 'I prefer traditional Christmas songs', and whilst this is true, I think what I actually meant is that I prefer non-pop Christmas songs. Slade and Wizard are all well and good, but sometimes I prefer something a little more off the beaten track. So here are my top unconventional Christmas songs (in no particular order).

1) The Christmas Sandwich Song. I've loved this ever since my then-boyfriend showed it to me in 2011. Its so folksy and happy.

2) Always in the Season by Pomplamoose. I love Natalie's voice and this is a beautiful song - very sweet and touching (and a little bit funny).

3) White Wine In The Sun by Tim Minchin. This song is pretty long, but it really captures the spirit of Christmas for me (a non-religious person).

4) White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes. I love how folksy this song is, despite the fact it actually a little dark and not really about Christmas at all! Pentatonix do a great cover of it too.

5) It Feels Like Christmas by The Muppets. I had to give this one an honorable mention, although I could have picked any of the songs from this film. Like this one. Or this one.

and as a bonus, because even though it is a Christmas classic, not many people know it:

6) The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers by Harry Connick Jr. Oh the childhood memories! And here's the Disney Sing-a-long version that started my love for this song!

So those are my top five (and a bonus mention) unconventional Christmas songs! What are yours? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday: B. Cosmetics Products

I thought I'd review the B. Cosmetics products I've tried. In two weeks time there will be a review of their skincare products too!

B. is a cruelty free brand certified by the flying bunny logo and is available exclusively to Superdrug.

Under Eye Concealer. When I first got this concealer, I was really happy with it. I'd never used a concealer before, it applied really well and gave a natural look. As soon as it ran out I re-purchased it. When my second pen ran out, I started to get a little... miffed. I don't know if they changed the formula between the first and second purchase, but it seemed to run out super quickly, as well as giving less coverage than the first time around. I have re-purchased it - somewhat begrudgingly - as it is really affordable and was on a three for two with other products I wanted - and this third batch seems to have a slightly thicker consistency again. I'm hoping the middle pen was part of a bad batch or something. I'd really like to try some other concealers - particularly ones with a wand as they seem to give the best coverage - so if you have any affordable cruelty free suggestions let me know!

Eyebrow Kit. This product has an eyebrow pencil on one end, a wax on the other and a brush. I have been really happy with this purchase. Although I think the shade is still a little too red for my brows (I have Dark Brown), this product applies really well. I really like the wax on the other end of the pencil too as it does a very natural job of holding my hairs in place. The brush on the end is a bit useless - although that might be personal preference. I use a spooly brush instead. I'd like to try some other eyebrow products, but I wouldn't be upset if I had to re-purchase this product.

Vibrant Eye Shimmer. This is essentially a cream eye shadow and I love it. I've got it in 097 Golden Sand. It applies really nicely either with a brush or with your fingers, and despite the fact its so creamy it's pretty long lasting. Very happy with this product and I really need to expand my collection. I'll probably be wearing this all through the holiday season - my festive make-up look will be up next week!

Nail Polish Base. I am so awful at doing my nails. I love it when other people have painted nails but I never get around to doing it myself - mostly because it always chips off so quickly. Superdrug had a 3 for 2 make-up sale (as they often do) so I decided to pick up this base coat as part of the set. I do think it keeps my polish on for longer, and I actually think it makes my nails healthier too (although that could be because I've started taking Biotin and Sea Kelp - both of which promote hair and nail growth). Since it is basically just a clear nail polish, I use it as a top coat too.

Illuminating Primer. I picked this up on a whim when I saw it was half price and I am so happy I did. I've never used a primer before, so I can't compare, but I am pretty sure that it makes my make-up stay a little longer so it does its job! The best thing about this product is its illuminating qualities: it really makes it look like my skin is glowing from the inside out, even through powdery make-up. Glowing, not greasy. It is a bit expensive, so I'll only re-purchase this if it goes on half-price again, but as you only need a pea-sized amount it should be a while before I have to re-buy!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Blogmas 15: Cooking For One: Keeping Porridge Fun

I don't like cereal. I think it's probably mostly to do with my dislike of milk, but even then most of it is far too sweet for me, and when I do eat it its a Fruit and Fiber, Muesli or Weetabix type of situation.

So, particularly in the winter, it's porridge (or oatmeal) for me most morning. I make mine on the hob, 1:2 oats to water ratio, boiling for about 5 minutes. You can use milk to make porridge (hazelnut milk is really delicious with it), but you still get a pretty creamy taste with just water.

Plain porridge is pretty boring, especially if you're eating it everyday, so here are a few ways I spice mine up in the morning. None of these recipes are particularly healthy - porridge is quite high calorie and I'm adding sugars and fats to it - but they will all keep you full till lunch.

Caramel Porridge - This is the porridge I have most days. To achieve the caramel taste, I rip up a handful of dried dates into my porridge as it's cooking. They just dissolve away into the mixture and are completely delicious.

Apple Pie Porridge - I chop up half an apple into my porridge as its cooking (I leave the skin on but if you want a smoother mixture you can peel them). I sprinkle in some cinnamon and a little bit of ginger and nutmeg to make this a really warming dish which replicates the taste of the dessert.

Banana, Choc Chip and Peanut Butter Porridge - This one is pretty self-explanatory. I buy a pretty big bunch of banana's when I shop, and because I never get through them all I chop them up and place them in freezer bags in halves. I use the frozen bananas in smoothies and also in this porridge. The banana's dissolve away, so they're basically just adding sweetness. I then add a teaspoon of peanut butter and a small handful of dark chocolate chips. Stir it all together and it tastes delicious.

Blueberry Porridge - Again, I use frozen blueberries for this one. I normally add a sprinkle of cinnamon and ginger into this too. It almost tastes like a blueberry muffin.

PB&J Porridge - Another self-explanatory one, but I add a spoonful of both peanut butter and my favourite apricot jam into this. It also tastes delicious with orange and ginger marmalade.

What ways do you spice up your porridge? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment to let me know!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blogmas 14: Beauty: Mission Skin

Recently I've started a mission - a mission to get my skin in better condition. I'm quite lucky when it comes to skin. I only suffer from the occasional spot, and although I have a condition which means my skin cells over-reproduce it only really results in rosy cheeks. However, my skin is pretty greasy, and I do suffer a bit from blackheads - a result of never washing my face until my late teens.

So, this winter, I've decided to sort it out. Not only am I going to try to drink a lot more water, but I'm also going to treat my face better - especially as my skin tends to get worse in the harsh weather and centrally heated rooms. Here are the products I've been using so far:

B. Exfoliating Cleanser - I use this product daily. I'm doing a review of it at the end of the month, so you can check that out then.

B. Night Serum - I use this product every night and it works a treat - my skin has never felt so hydrated. Again, review will be up at the end of the month.

Olay Daily Fluid with SPF 15 - I've used this product for years, although I'm looking to swap it out for the B. version when this bottle runs out. It soaks into the skin really nicely.

Simple Foaming Facial Cleanser -  Again, another daily product. I use it after I've removed my eye-make to break down any of my face products.

Simple Kind To Eyes Make-up Remover - This is by far the best eye make-up remover I've ever used. It's going to take something special to get me off this,

Tea Tree Deep Cleansing Nose Strips - I've never used nose striops before, but I thought I'd give them a go. I really like these ones, although I think they are quite expensive for the amount of strips you get (5 strips for £4.30), especially considering you're meant to use two strips a week. Luckily for me they were on a two for £4, meaning that two boxes were cheaper than one, so I bought a couple. I've been using them as directed, and have had varied results. Definitely make sure you have a damp nose when applying these, and don't drink or eat anything steamy as it removes all the stick and renders them useless.

Superdrug Detoxifying Deep Sea Mud Mask - I've been using this product sporadically over the past year and I love how you can visibly see the oil being pulled from your pores (which is a bit disgusting, I know!).

Superdrug Purifying Witch Hazel Mud Mask - I picked this up the other day becasue witch hazel is meant to be great for reducing your pore sizes. This is another mask where you can see the oil being soaked up, but to a lesser extent.

Superdrug Refreshing Cucumber Peel-off Mask - I've used this mask the most out of the three so far because its so much fun to peel off! It does leave my skin feeling refreshed too.

I try and rotate these three masks each evening (although, like I said, I have preferenced the cucumber mask).

B. Glycolic Cleansing Peel - I tend to use this on the mornings when I haven't managed to do a face mask the evening before as it only needs to be on for three minutes so I pop it on just before I get in the shower. Again, as with all my B. skincare products there will be a review up at the end of the month.

I might post an update in a month or so to let you know how I get on. If you use any of the products I've mentioned let me know how you find them - or give me your suggestions for other things I can try!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Blogmas 13: University #13: Third Year Fear.

Third Year Fear (n.) -
The feeling of dread for a) leaving university, b) essays and c) the future in general which occurs during the third year of academic study.

'I can't do this essay/apply for this job/think about life after uni, what if things go badly and I fail at everything?'
'Don't worry, that's just the third year fear talking.'

Stress over essays, the future etc are all very common during the final year of any university subject, and final week of semester has only served to exacerbate mine.

Not only have I got my dissertation to be working on, but I've also got a 4,000 word project due in on Monday, as well as a whole heap of social commitments (which are, luckily, mostly over and done with today). As I described myself on Thursday, I feel like a hairball - itchy, stuck in the throat of final week, needing to be coughed up and released. I'm aching for Christmas, so I can chill out with my feet up and not have to spend 8 hour days in the library (incidentally where I'm writing this post from).

Today's post was meant to be an outfit of the evening, as I went out to a ball last night, but I felt that this post was a lot more relevant to how I'm really feeling.

Some things I have been doing to try and combat the fear is breaking my work up into really small chunks (like I suggested in my 'On Honesty' post) and treating myself to tea when I've done a decent amount of work. I also try and see or speak to someone on a proper lunch breaks to give myself a breather. The other day my housemate told me about a study website which makes you work intensively for twenty-five minutes then have a between a five and twenty-five minute break. After your time is up, you can write a little bit about what you did, so you can keep track of your progress throughout the day. It's been really helpful so far for me - although I will admit that its getting harder and harder to return to work after the buzzer goes off!

I can't really offer any other tips or advice for how to get over this feeling of fear, as I'm still trying to work it out myself! If you have an tips for me, please tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Cooking For One: Lentil Dhal

This is possibly one of the most simple dishes I've ever made, and its a great way of making a meal out of almost nothing - as you can get away without using any fresh ingredients so long as you have some store cupboard essentials. Because of this it is a super cheap dish, so its great for when the budget feels tight.


Half a Red Onion
Cup of Red Lentils
4/5 cups vegetable stock (you can use water)
Teaspoon Lazy Garlic
Lazy Chilli to taste (or Tabasco)
1/2 Tablespoon Tomato Puree (optional)
Turmeric/Cumin/Other Spices (optional to taste)


1) Dice the onion and place in a saucepan with a little butter or oil. Cook until translucent on a low heat.
2) Add the garlic and chilli. If using Tabasco, wait until fully cooked before stirring through.
3) Add the lentils and pour over the stock or water. Bring to the boil.
4) Add the spices and the tomato puree (if including). I had some fresh tomatoes so I chopped a couple up and added these too.
5) Allow to simmer till the lentils are soft, but still have some bite to them.

At this point you can decide what sort of consistency you're after. I like mine quite soupy so I don't let too much of the water boil off. You can have it very sodgy if you like - it'll probably take about half an hour to cook, just keep an eye on it.

That is it! A really quick, relatively healthy meal which you can enjoy as a lunch or dinner. I like mine with flatbread for a dinner, or on its own with a bit of goats cheese for lunch. If you don't have either it still tastes great. It packs a huge flavour punch for so few ingredients.

if you try this out, let me know how you fund it! Leave a comment below or tweet me @VickiMaitland.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Blogmas 11: Police Brutality

*Disclaimer - I am a white person living in England, and as such my voice and opinions on this do not matter as much as a black person (particularly living in America). I have not been negatively affected by racism, and thus can never understand how people of colour must be feeling. There are many black voices on the internet speaking about this (I link one video which has a collection of eloquent young black women speaking at the bottom of this page) and I urge you to find them and listen*

If you spend any time on the internet, you won't have been able to escape the things that have been going on in America over the past year.

Police brutality and the thuggification of black men has been going on for centuries, but after the murder of Mike Brown (an unarmed eighteen year old who was shot 6 times by police officer Darren Wilson whilst he had his hands in the air and running away), and more recently the murder of Eric Garner (a man who was stopped by the police for selling cigarettes and was put in an illegal chokehold - he died from a heart attack as a result of asphyxiation) the general public are taking notice.

This isn't even mentioning the shooting of Tamir Rice, a twelve year old boy who was shot for holding a BB gun in Ohio - which is an open carry state.

Or the shooting of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin in 2012.

There are some people who will claim that the police were just doing their job, and things got a little out of hand, and that these crimes are not racially motivated.

I would disagree.

In all of these cases the mainstream media have fed us information as to why these men and children were killed. We are told that Mike Brown robbed a store (the store owner denies this) and then physically assaulted Darren Wilson (I couldn't see the bruising on his face from where he was punched twice so hard that he thought a third punch would kill him as he so claims). We are told that his stepfather is a criminal, as if that makes it okay for him to be murdered. Mike Brown has been turned into a thug by the mainstream media, despite the fact that all of his friends and family have described him as a gentle giant, a kind sweet boy. (Interestingly, Darren Wilson's mother has also been criminally charged, but that is a fact glossed over by the media). It was decided at the end of last month that there was not enough evidence to put him to trial (despite numerous eyewitness statements and some seriously suspicious excuses for various police staff not following procedure) and the prosecutor directly benefited from a fund set up to support Darren Wilson (the man he was supposed to be proving was guilty).

In the case of Eric Garner, once again the police officer involved wasn't even put to trial. This is despite the fact that when a police officer performed the same chokehold on a white student he was fired the next day.

There is no doubt that these crimes were racially motivated. Why else would a twelve year old boy get shot in state where it is legal to carry guns than for the colour of his skin?

I also think we cannot ignore the lynching of Lennon Lacy - a promising young student who was a day away from starting his college football career

And the fact that black Americans are being incarcerated at the same rate of black South Africans during apartheid.

So what can we do about this?

The first thing to do is to speak up, to protest, and to make our voices heard. As a white person, I have to be careful with this. I can be disgusted by what's happening, and speak up about it - use my white privilege to try and get this cause heard. But, I cannot speak for black people. I cannot speak for the communities involved in this. I have no idea about the pain of institutionalised racism.

The best thing white people can do is educate themselves. Go on Tumblr, look through social media, take everything the mainstream media says with a pinch (or handful) of salt. And know when to shut up, stand down, and listen to those who know more than us. It's #blacklivesmatter and #theycantbreathe (not #icantbreathe - that is reserved for people of colour).

I hope I've made myself clear on this. I've been quite vocal about this on tumblr, but it felt wrong not to talk about it on here too, and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to write a post about it (admittedly it is part of my white privilege that I am able to 'ignore' the events and not talk about them for so long). Thank you for reading.

As I promised, if you want to hear black voices on the matter, there is a great video. I urge you to watch it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Blogmas 10: #LibraryLooks

This the what I wore when I went to work in the library on Sunday. It had been miserable all morning, but it brightened up after lunch so I put some face on and cycled onto campus.

Face -  B. Illuminating PrimerB. Under-eye Concealer in Light/MediumELF Pressed Powder in Sand  (all over face). Buff (Contour), M&M Limited Collection Blush in Cinnamon
Brows - B. Eyebrow Kit in Brown,
Lips - Barry M Lip Liner Pencil in 119 MullberryHema Longer Lasting Lipstick in 06
Eyes - Avon Nocturnal Pallet [no shade listed] (all over lid),  ELF Liquid Eyeliner in BlackELF Waterproof Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara in Black

This is about as natural as my eye make-up gets. I really like this nude shadow from Avon, it is only slightly darker than my skin tone so it looks very natural. Avon is not cruelty free though, so I won't be re-purchasing when I hit pad. I had to wear my red lips - loving the red lipped look this season!

Shirt - BooHoo.Com
 I was a bit skeptical when I got this shirt through, but today I've tucked it into a full length black skirt (from Miss Selfridge last year, sorry I didn't get a picture of it my my room isn't wide enough to get a full length shot from this angle. Because it was past midday and sunny, I decided to take pictures standing under my window rather than standing against my wardrobe). As you can see, this is my 'TS: 1989' pose!

Glasses - Asos
Scarf - H&M (similar here)
Jacket - TopShop
I fell in love with these sunglasses when I saw Estee wear them in a video. I decided to throw on a scarf because it looked a bit chilly out, and I paired it with my biker jacket that I got in last years January sales from TopShop.

So that was my Sunday #LibraryLook. What's yours? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday: I Love My Kanken

A couple of weeks or so ago, as you may have seen on my twitter, I took the plunge and bought myself a Kanken. For those of you who don’t know, a Kanken is a rucksack made by Swedish brand Fjallraven and it was originally developed to help the backs of schoolchildren. I have suffered from back problems ever since highschool when I had to carry around up to five exercise books, a P.E kit, my lunchbox, my water, pencil case and any additional textbooks my classes might need every single day. Now at university some of the books I have to lug to and from campus are massive, and more often than not I want to take my laptop onto campus too.

My old River Island rucksack has seen me through the last two years relatively successfully, but it is starting to look more than a little disheleved and, as the ties are pulling away from the fabric, I really wouldn’t trust it with my laptop anymore. No to mention that the style of the bag (it sits really low on my back) means that it wasn’t really helping my back problems at all.

I had heard so much hype around the Kanken, but I was really wary of spending so much money on a bag. I spoke to a friend who has the Kanken Classic and she told me it was definitely worth getting. She also confirmed for me that I was going to have to splash out a little extra and get the laptop specific bags, as her biggest problem with the bag is that her laptop doesn’t quite fit in.

So, eventually, I went for it. The bag I got – the 15” KankenLaptop – retails at £85, but luckily for me I timed it right and managed to get 20% off. Ultimately the bag set me back £68, which is more than twice the price of any bag I have ever bought before. However, I can happily say this has been money very well spent.

The bag is made more really durable, waterproof material. The straps feel really solidly attached to the body of the bag and there is a decent amount of padding on the shoulder. It has two water bottle pouches on either side, a front pocket with a zip for little bits and pieces, as well a pouch inside for A4 paper. The rear compartment for the laptop is padded and reinforced at the corners, so I’ve got no worries about it carrying my laptop safely. The label on the front is reflective too – which my mum loves!

I think my only criticism is that there isn’t a smaller pouch inside the bag for my phone. I don’t know how safe it would be to keep in the outside pocket.

Other than that it is perfect. I went for the Forest Green colour – which is a really deep grey-green. I really wanted a dark grey bag, but the only grey option they had was far too light for me, so this colour was the perfect compromise, and I’m really pleased with it. It sits really nicely – and quite high – on my back, so it’s really comfortable to wear. I always used to think my laptop was really heavy, but carrying it in the right place on my back has made me realise that it really isn’t.

In short I can proudly proclaim that I LOVE MY KANKEN! I would really recommend it for anyone who has to carry large amounts on a regular basis, and even though it is a little bit pricey I would even suggest parents buying it for their children to stop them from having the back problems I (and most of my friends) developed over our school careers.

Just as a little disclaimer, this isn't a sponsored post (none of the posts on my blog are), so I don't get anything by linking to the site and recommending it to you guys. I just really love this rucksack.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Blogmas 8: University #12: Dissertation?

I realised that I haven't uploaded a #University post in a while - mostly because I've been so busy with it! - so I thought I'd rectify that today.

Dissertations are a huge part of most university degrees - particularly in Humanities but other subjects have extended research projects which fulfill the same criteria. Also, as far as I'm aware, most degrees allow to you to pick whether or not you want to do a dissertation. It can be a pretty intimidating decision to make. When I was deciding whether or not I should do a dissertation, a huge part of it was the money - will I be paying £9,000 for a essentially a glorified library pass and three hours of contact time?

Now, 12/16 weeks into the dissertation, I am pretty confident to say that I made the right decision in choosing to do one.

My dissertation has taught me so so much about the way I work, as well as my creative style as a writer. I am very much one of those people who can 'bang out' words, and I find it very easy to hit word counts for my essays etc. However, all of my work is in the editing process. Over the course of my dissertation I have written well over 10,000 words of content - 2/3rds of extra material is sitting on my hard drive (my story is meant to be 6,000 words). I am currently at the 6,100 mark, which I am more than happy with, and I still need to do a little more editing so that number should fluctuate (and hopefully drop) a little more.

As a writer I have learnt that I have a very minimalist, distant style and I find it hard to get into the minds of my characters - I prefer to show their actions than tell their thoughts. I also work best when I focus on 'action' scenes. My story is a series of vignettes (short scenes which don't follow a traditional story arc), which means that each scene is specifically working to move my story along. I have found out that I find it hard to write a full story plot (I struggle with narrative arc), but am actually very realistic with my dialogue (something that I always hated writing as it feels very fake to me).

I've also learnt that I need small goals. I get so much encouragement out of hitting a word count. At the start, when it was literally a matter of creating content, I told myself I had to write 500 words on my dissertation each day.

I learnt that I find it so much easier to hand write in the initial stages of story development, but once I've found my voice I can type directly onto the document. Keeping each scene as a separate document worked well in the early stages, but hindered me later on.

This all might sound really boring to you, but for me it is fascinating.

The best thing about a dissertation is it gives you a glimpse into your own mind. It allows you the time to explore your own way of working. And that is what you are really paying the money for. My supervisor is great and her feedback is helpful, but what's most valuable about this experience is spending time letting myself write about what I want to write about.

All this said and done a dissertation is not for everyone.

It requires a lot of self control and time management. If you're not good at working alone without motivation from others this won't be the right move for you.

It also requires a passion. I am lucky that my passion is writing, so I could say 'Yes, I want to spend four months writing a short story' and not know what that story was going to be about. If you're doing a more academic dissertation you need to have an interest in what you want to study and have an angle on what you want to write about. Do research your area of study and make sure what you want to do hasn't been done before.

If you do want to do a dissertation, research ahead of time and figure out which lecturers would be good for you - and if you're unsure ask around. Your favourite tutor might not have a specialty in the area you're looking to study, or if they are popular their slots might fill up quickly. I asked my supervisor this time last year - if you know what you want to do its never too early to ask!

The long and short of it is: if you want to learn more about yourself and know you have the motivation and interest, do a dissertation. If you know you don't have that self control or don't know what you'd study, stick to programmed modules.

I hope that's been helpful! Let me know if you're doing you dissertation and what you're doing it on - you can tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below.

Tomorrow's post is my #reviewsdaytuesday of my Kanken!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Blogmas 7: Beauty: My Beauty Rules

As promised, ever Sunday will be a beauty post. Today, I thought I'd share with you my top beauty rules. These are things I practice every day I wear make-up, so are completely personal to me.

1) Blend. Blend everything. You can apply your make-up terribly, but with a little bit (or a lot) of blending it can always end up looking really professional and flawless. When it comes to foundation always blend it down onto your neck. If you apply too much blush you can blend it out with your powder brush. I always keep a 'clean' brush for blending out eyeshaddow - never use the one you've used to apply your darkest colour as that'll just put more product on. I even blend out my eyebrows by using a spooly brush to re-distribute the product!

2) Hydrate. Water is the most important part of any beauty routine. It keeps your skin and hair in really good check, as well as keeping your concentration levels up throughout the day.

3) Wash your hands. Always, always, always wash your hands before you put them on your face - whether that's to apply make-up or take it off. Your hands ave so much grime on them, and you don't want that to be transferred directly onto your face.

4) Lip liner. I never used to use lip liner, but as I've been wearing bright red lipstick more regularly I thought I would pick one up and see if it made a difference. And it does! Not only does it make it about ten times easier to apply the lipstick, but it also makes your lipstick last so much longer. I found it also makes my lips look bigger as it gives me a clear line outside of my lips. Before lip liner, I would line my lips using a lipstick brush and the lipstick itself, but a proper lip liner is so much better. I can't imagine applying a bold lipstick without it now!

5) Fill your brows. It makes so much difference to the shape of your face to have well defined brows - and thick brows are very in at the moment. I have quite dark brows, but they have areas of patchiness so it can look like I have shaved stripes in my brow at the arch. I also don't have that much of an arch - my brows are very flat - so I like to fill them to give them a little more definition of shape. When I started plucking my brows it was in fashion to have a very rounded inner brow (ie, the bits towards the middle of your face) so I plucked my brows quite far back to find the place where the hairs naturally curve outwards. Now it's much more in fashion to have brows which are closer together and more squared off (what I would call a more natural look) so I try to achieve this by filling my brows. I'd really like to try and grow out my inner brow again, but after almost a decade of plucking I'm not sure how successful that would be!

Those are my top five beauty rules. What are yours? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Blogmas 6: Why I Need Feminism

The other day my university's Feminist Society were doing a whiteboard campaign where you had to write why you need feminism. I spent most of my morning trying to figure out what I wanted to write, and came up with a tonne of ideas.

I Need Feminism Because...
My body, my choice.
Cat Calling =/= Compliment.
My smile is not your possession. 
I deserve the same opportunities as my male friends.
I deserve the same pay as my male colleagues.
No never means Yes.
Men shouldn't be taught that the worst thing they can be is a girl.
My gender is not an insult.
It's 2014, so I shouldn't need feminsim.

The list could go on. And, as I said, it shouldn't have to. Who'd have thought that in 2014 we would still be fighting for gender equality?

This all feels particularly important considering that this month ElleUK released their Feminism Issue. Although it is actually pretty good as far as what it is saying - lots of powerful women and relatively inter-sectional (albeit majority white, with very little disability and 'plus-size' representation) - it got me wondering: why isn't every issue of ElleUK a feminism issue? Elle is a magazine written for a female audience - surely every issue should be promoting feminist causes? I was also somewhat confused by the number of (specifically straight white male) voices in the issue. I am all for male allies to the feminist cause, and I'm a huge supporter of the #HeForShe campaign, but in an issue that claims to privilege women it uses a lot of male opinion.

Next month is their Body Confidence Issue, and I'm curious too see how they go about tackling it, considering how prescriptive the fashion industry is about body image.

Here is the final slogan I decided on:

I need feminism because when I wear make-up I wear it for me.
I thought this was particularly appropriate because of the high content on beauty posts on this blog. I love make-up, and over the last year it has become a real passion of mine. I've had a number of discussions with various people who have said to me that 'boys prefer girls who wear less make-up' and I've found this really insulting. Not only does it reduce me to the value men place on my looks, but it also devalues my autonomy. When I apply make-up in the morning, I do it because it gives me peace and the confidence to face the day. I used to be concerned about going out without make-up, and if I have the choice I'll always put a little mascara, concealer and fill my brows, but I don't mind leaving the house without any on. I'm also very aware that I don't need the amount of make-up I put on my face to make me 'conventionally attractive' - I'm already white, of average height and weight so I tick all of those boxes. I apply make-up because it's a process I get a lot of enjoyment out of, and because I like the way I look with it on, regardless of what men might think of me.

Sorry if that got a little ranty at the end, but its something I feel very passionately about.

Tomorrow's post will be a beauty one as promised.

Let me know why you need feminism by tweeting me @VickiMaitland or leaving a comment below.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas Present Book Reccomendations

As I've said a number of times over recent posts, I love getting and giving books as presents but sometimes its difficult to decide what to get and for whom. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will have loads of ideas for really great books to get for all your friends and family. As a quick disclaimer, I'm going to try and avoid the big hitters (The Fault In Our Stars, Harry Potter, Twilight, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, anything by Dan Brown etc).

I'll structure them by age up till 16, then genre. Most of them will be suitable for reluctant readers (particularly in the age restricted sections) but I'll make it clear if there's a book which is slightly more 'literary' - if there's such a thing!

(Ages 8/9+)

Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy - With a kick-ass female protagonist and a walking, talking, fire-slinging skeleton this book has just about everything you could want: murder, mystery, magic and some hilarious one liners. Plus, there's a whole series of them, so once you've got your younger family member hooked they can keep on reading to their little hearts content. I think I read this series aged 12-14 and I still really enjoyed them.

(Ages 10+) 

Ally's World 'The Past, The Present and The Loud Loud Girl' by Karen McCombie - This series was one of my favourites growing up. It is slightly on the more typically 'girly' side, set in London near Alexandra Palace it is the diary of 13 year old Ally who regales us with tales of her slightly mad family.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - For the lover of fantasy. I adored this book, with its sometimes very lyrical language and magical world construction. There is also a very bad film adaptation whose only redeeming feature is its excellent cast.

(Ages 12+)

Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan - Dark, funny, and just a little bit gory, this is the story of a young boy who discovers what its like to get bitten by a vampire. This is on the more 'manly' side, but it was a series I loved growing up, so anyone can enjoy them. Again, another one with a bad film adaptation.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - Another dark, funny book but for a completely different reason. The Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned and in the care of their suspicious Uncle Olaf after a terrible fire at their family home. This one has a rather good film adaptation which would make an excellent companion present for the book.

(Ages 14+) 

The Princess Diaries by Cathy Hopkins - I really enjoyed this series, but I think I read them slightly too young. The later books get a bit 'sexy' as far as I can remember, but all of them should be suitable for 14-15 year olds. It's about 15 year old Mia who suddenly finds out that she is the heir to the throne of (fictional) Genovia.  Another book with a good film adaptation.

The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness - As you know I read and loved these books over the summer, and I'm twenty! These books have no age limit on them, really, but I think 14 would be the perfect age to read them. If you haven't seen my review, you can check it out here.

(Ages 16+/YA)

Looking For Alaska by John Green - This is John Green's first novel, and his most mature, so I would definitely recommend being 16 before giving this one a read. Pudge goes away to college, armed with last words, to search for The Great Perhaps, and instead finds friends in The Colonel and Alaska. With humour, romance and great depth this novel is more than just a light read.

Mr Penumbra's Twenty Four Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - Another book I read at the start of the summer and loved. This book feels very mysterious and little magical. My review is here.

The Lovers Dictionary by David Levithan - This is actually found on the adult shelves of the book shop, but think it is really suitable for a YA audience. I have done a review but the link for it is broken, so that will be up as soon as I've managed to sort out the niggles! This is a book for people who like unconventional narratives. It's a bit of a gateway for poets too, as the style of writing is very lyrical.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson - Again this is technically an adult book but since it is concerned with a coming of age narrative I think its a great read for young adults. I read it as part of my A level course and adored it.


NW by Zadie Smith - This is a book for people who love books. It is a very 'writerly' and a pleasure to read. I'd avoid this for non-readers/reluctant readers. This book feels like London to me, it speaks with the voice of a city, so I'd recommend it for any Londoners/city folk!

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson -  What can I say about this book? It is hilarious, really easy to read and suitable for anyone - mum's, dad's, grandparents, siblings, friends. I read it whilst bored in a rainy mobile home in France adn I couldn't stop reading sections aloud to my mates. I also reviewed this book back in the early days of this blog, so if you want a little more information you can check that out.

The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal - This is definitely a book off the beaten track for me. My Papa (Granddad) lent it to me a few years ago and, although it was slow going, I ended up loving it! It follows a collection of Japanese netsuke, so it's a great book for people interested in history but delivered in a slightly unconventional way.

Bastard Out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison - As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had to read this book for my module and I loved it. It does have some hard hitting content, but I think young women would enjoy this just as much as adults. It would also be a great book to give a young man to teach him about male violence and sexual assault. In both circumstances I'd say this book is for confident readers who are emotionally mature enough to cope with hard topics, which is why I'm keeping it in the adult section rather than moving into YA.

Hopefully that has given you a couple of ideas. Let me know if you have any suggestions of your own! Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Blogmas 4: Semester Wrap-Up and Holiday TBR

I realised today that I haven't done a reading wrap-up or TBR for almost 3 months - so I thought I'd give you a quick catch up of what I've been reading over the past semester.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I actually did a book-to-film review of this in September. It was before my seminar on the book though, and I think I have somewhat different thoughts on it now that I've studied it in more depth. I still really recommend it - both as a book and as a film.

If This Is A Man/The Truce by Primo Levi - I had to read both of these books for my course. Primo Levi was an Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz during the end of the Second World War. If This Is A Man documents his life inside Auschwitz and The Truce documents his long return home from Poland back to Italy. Both are very enlightening texts, although I much preferred If This Is A Man as I felt like The Truce wasn't giving me what I wanted from it (as problematic as that is considering the autobiographical nature of the novel). I gave it 3/5 on Goodreads.

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels - Another book I had to read for my trauma module. This is a story in two parts. The first follows a young boy Jakob who escaped Germany after seeing his mother and father killed and his sister taken by the Nazis, and who grows up under the care of a kind Greek stranger. The second begins after Jakob's death, and follows Ben - a young man who admired Jakob - go on a journey of self-discovery, confronting his own relationship with The Holocaust. This book is very lyrical and metaphorical - which was both beautiful and distracting at times. I gave it 4/5 on Goodreads.

Bastard Out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison - This is a harrowing story of a young girl growing up in the Deep South of America who gets sexually and emotionally abused by her step-father. As you may have guessed, this was another book I had to read for my trauma module. I adored this book - and I am currently doing my end of year project on it. I really recommend reading this - particularly if you're a young woman. I gave it 5/5.

Ugly Shy Girl by Laura Dockrill - I got this book because it was 99p on Kindle. It is a super short, very light read about a girl who is bullied at school before finding her friendship niche. I enjoyed it for the most part, but the ending confused me, so I gave it 3/5. It was also the first book I read which wasn't for my course.

Beloved  by Toni Morrison - I went into this book having already tried to read it three/four years ago. I was not looking forward to the experience at all, but I actually ended up really enjoying it. It is very hard to get into, but as soon as you become accustomed to the narrative style it is very rewarding. I ended up giving it 4/5.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  - This is a short essay on feminism. I really enjoyed this, although I did find it somewhat problematic in places. I am planning on putting up a review at some point this month once I've had time for a re-read to collate my thoughts.

In The Heart Of The Country by J M Coetzee - The final book I had to read for my trauma module, and possibly my least favourite. It follows a young woman called Magda who repeatedly acts out the death of her father and his new wife, as well as her own rape by her servant. Magda is very aware of her own insanity, making this a very confusing book to read with no real sense of truth and fiction or even right or wrong.

They were all the books I've read over the semester. I probably won't be able to do anymore reading until after my essay deadline on the 15th, as all my reading will be focused around that. However, I do have a couple of books in mind for when I finish my project.

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris - I got a copy to review from my university newspaper, so I need to get on with this book as soon as possible. I'm currently 50 pages in and really enjoying it so far. This book was also Booker nominated.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - My sister got this book from my grandparents earlier this year, and although crime fiction isn't really my scene I really want to read this outing from J K Rowling.

Do you have any recommendations for me? Or have you got any opinions on any of the books I've mentioned? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below! Tomorrow is my Christmas Present Book Guide - so I'll see you then!