Friday, 16 December 2016

16 of 2016 - Favourite Books, Cruelty Free Beauty, and Other!

The end of the year is finally upon us (well, almost) and this little blog post has become somewhat of a tradition. I'll admit, it was a little harder picking out favourites this year than it has been in the past. 2016 hasn't been kind to anyone - personally, politically, and emotionally this year has been fraught with turbulence - however there is certainly some good in all that bad. As usual, I'm splitting this list (much like this blog) into books, beauty, and other. So, here goes...


1. Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari - I read this book in the first half of the year and it has stuck with me ever since. Witty and lighthearted, this book explores heterosexual romance and the way finding 'one true love' has changed in the past century or so. I'd really recommend this book to anyone interested in the way humans form relationships, as well as anyone who is looking for an 'easy in' to non-fiction writing.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir - This is somewhat of a cheat entry because I'm including the film as well as the book. The Martian was one of my biggest surprises - I watched the film because people had said it was good, expecting to enjoy it but not love it. Instead, I laughed my way through the whole experience and went about recommending it to everyone I could! The book was a similar experience and the two are perfectly interlinked in my memory.

3. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill - I'd been wanting to read Louise O'Neill for a while so I was very happy when my sister gave it to me for my birthday. This is by no means an easy read: set in a dystopian world where girls are 'made' rather than born, there are schools for girls to train them to become perfect wives, concubines, or celebate teachers. This story follows one girl (and one year group) as they battle with body issues, social shaming, and boys - it's a scary look into the way that we view relationships and what constitutes the 'perfect woman'.

4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - This was another surprise for me, as I expected this to be fusty old classic that I was forcing myself to read 'because I should' rather than because I'd enjoy it. I fell head over heels in love with this book and these characters. Scout, Jem, and Atticus are all perfect characters - all of them flawed but all of them trying to do right by themselves. The story is told from Scouts perspective as she grows up to learn what a good man her father, Atticus, is, as well as the unjustness of the world around her.

5. Sweet Home by Carys Bray - I was trying to read more short story collections this year and, though this was the only one I got around to, Sweet Home has made me want to continue in that endeavour. The stories in this collection centre around family and relationships and they are all touching and heartbreaking in their own little way. I am excited to read more work by Carys in 2017, as well as more short stories!

6. The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss - This was the stand out book of the year for me. Told from the perspective of a father whose daughter stops breathing, this book examines what it means for life to go on. I really want to re-read this book now, as I read in at a stage in the year when I felt fairly invincible (not only pre-Brexit and pre-Trump but also prior to an event which has changed the way I view mortality forever) and I think my reaction would be markedly different. I think I would appreciate this book more on a re-read and, if possible, love it a little more too.


7. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks - These have been the standout products of 2016 for me and they practically haven't left my face since I bought them at the start of September. You can read my review here.

8. Real Techniques Beauty Blender - This little orange sponge has changed the way I apply cream make-up. I hardly ever wear foundation but, when I used to hate how awkward it was to apply with a brush or with my fingers. Now I feel so much more confident when wearing it. I also wear concealer under my eyes every day and applying with this has made my concealer last longer and look better.

9. Arbonne FC5 Oil Absorbing Day Lotion - I only got this towards the end of the year but it has definitely been my favourite daily-use skincare product! I had been having a real struggle finding cruelty free moisturisers that weren't too heavy or didn't break me out whilst still providing my skin with moisture and this one ticked all my boxes. It is a little bit pricier than my usual (£30 rather than between £3 and £10) but it has been worth it for me.

10. The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer - I have used this product every single day since I bought it and I'm only just starting to hit pan. I love it!

11. Curly Locks by Phil Smith Be Gorgeous - This is a cheat because this is a range rather than an individual product. I had been looking for new cruelty free shampoos and conditioners in the supermarket because my usual choices were all from city shops (I don't live far from my local city but it would always mean a trip out to get products rather than just adding them to my (mum's) weekly shop). The Phil Smith Be Gorgeous range is exclusive to Sainsbury's, cruelty free, and appears to have ticked all my boxes! I especially like the Curly Locks Spray, which I use before diffusing my hair... speaking of which...

12. BaByliss Pro Speed 2100W - I never thought I'd see the day that a hair dryer made it into my daily hair routine and yet here we are! Use this hair dryer with its diffuser attachment every single day and it gives my hair the volume I've been desperately craving without giving me frizz - yay!


13. Travel - I have been lucky enough to go on four fantastic holidays this year and I really have caught the travelling bug. I kicked off the year with a once in a lifetime tour around South Africa - I still want to write a mini travel guide for this trip as there were some huge highlights that I don't think anyone should miss out on when visiting this stunning country. My next trip was a four day city break to Munich! One of my best friends was living there for a few months studying, so I paid her a visit and explored the city at the same time. I'd really recommend visiting the city in summer as the weather was divine and perfect for laying out in a beer garden! The third trip was a family holiday to New York City for my Dad's 50th. This was such a whirlwind trip and we really hit all the highlights - you read my attraction highlights here and my food highlights here. My final trip was a quick getaway to Portugal with a couple of my best friends, more to get some sun than to explore the culture (although we ate some great food).

14. Watsky - I don't think this will be a surprise to anyone that Watsky is on my list of 2016 favourites! His music has meant a lot to me during a few pivotal moments in my life and, once again, when things hit their lowest Watsky was there to lift me up again. I wish I had been able to stick around after his show to shake his hand (unfortunately we had a train to catch) but, judging by his past it won't be too long before he is back!

15. Plants - Whilst I was at university I really began to appreciate the importance of greenery. I had moved from the countryside to the city and I was missing the foliage both inside and outside. Since moving back home I have purchased and been gifted a number of plants and I love them all very dearly! I probably don't look after them as I should but their little green presence in my room does wonders for me - especially in the colder and darker months.

16. Nutri-Bullet - I got my Nutri-Bullet for Christmas last year and I think it is probably my most used Christmas present ever. I have used it every single weekday (well, almost) for the entire year and I can't imagine life without it!

What are your 16 of 2016?

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