January Favourites + Highlights 2020

I personally feel January gets a bad wrap, people exaggerate about it “being the longest month ever” which I don’t think is true. January for me is a chance to reset and start fresh for the year and it always feels quite calm after the busy festive season. January is also my birthday month and I feel like people who complain about disliking it are making an unintentional dig at those who celebrate their birthday in January. I find it hard to believe we are one month through 2020 already, I swear every year gets faster!

Onto this month’s favourites:

1. Nutella – I’ve never been a huge Nutella fan but I saw a teeny tiny jar at the supermarket and purchased it purely for the size. I enjoyed having toast with Nutella to use up the contents of the jar and purchased a bigger size after it was finished. Toast with Nutella is nice to alternate between the yoghurt or fruit I usually have. Nutella hasn’t become a cupboard staple but it’s a nice treat!

2. YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick – Le Rouge 01 – This lipstick is one of the four minis that came in a YSL set I purchased from Mecca towards the end of last year. Le Rouge 01 is a classic red and it has such a lovely comfortable satin finish. The colour lasts all day and doesn’t slip or bleed. I also think the mini sized bullet makes it easier to control and apply, no lip liner is required.

3. And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott – My second read of 2020! Over the past year or so I have been reading more psychological thrillers and this one was extremely gripping and kept me guessing right until the end. The twists and turns weren’t predictable and the book overall was super easy to read, the story was told well and the ending felt complete. I am looking forward to reading the follow up novel coming in April.

Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

4. House Rules – House Rules is an Australian home renovation show that I have watched for years and a new season started airing in New Zealand this month. Six teams travel around Australia renovating each other’s houses and gardens to ultimately try and win money to pay off their mortgage. Teams get scored on their work by a panel of judges and eliminated one by one until a team are crowned the winners. This is a good show for sitting down in front of with my book, I can see what’s happening but I don’t have to be glued to the screen in case I miss something.

5. Deep Water – Deep Water has been called the British version of Big Little Lies which is another series I really enjoyed. Deep Water is described as a modern day look at family through the eyes of three women as they try to balance work and life pressures. Each woman has secrets that surface and their lives intertwine with each other.

January Highlights

  • After watching a documentary about Michael Hutchence in December I have been listening to INXS music a fair bit. The instrumentation and vocals are sensational!
  • It was my birthday on January 24th and also my last day at work for a couple of weeks. I went out to dinner with some friends and had a lovely day.

January’s Spotify Playlist:


How was your month? Share one of your highlights in the comments!

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October Favourites + Highlights

I got sick in the second half of October which I put down to the changeable weather, one day it’s warm sunshine and the next it’s cold and windy. I have spent the past week or so taking it easy and recovering. My asthma flared up too and it’s important not to do too much too soon or else you’ll set yourself back. I was able to work towards catching up on my Goodreads target and watch a handful of episodes of Poirot which are great sick day remedies. I’ve been a tad quiet on the Instagram front as well. I went through the accounts I follow and cleared out the ones I don’t interact with or accounts that are inactive.

Onto this month’s favourites:

1. Colourpop Super Shock Shadow – Dare – This shade is the kind of purple I expected to be in It’s My Pleasure but after using the palette and realising I was missing a super sparkly cool toned purple I knew this would fill the gap. I have worn Dare in conjunction with a few shades from It’s My Pleasure and the palette really enhances the shade. Each time I have worn Dare I have gotten compliments and I see it becoming one of my most worn Super Shock Shadows!

2. Colourpop Strawberry Shake Palette – I won’t ramble too much about this palette as I only shared a review last week *CLICK HERE* but in short I love it! The colour story (I dislike that term and this is probably the only time I’ll use it) is girly and fun but also wearable. This palette is versatile and it will also work as a complimentary palette with others in my collection. The orange-peach tones will work with Sol and the vibrant pink shades will work with the pinks in It’s My Pleasure. If you don’t have a lot of pink eyeshadows or you are looking to add some to your collection that aren’t as bright as those from Ooh La La, check out Strawberry Shake.

3. Freedom at Topshop Aquarius Necklace – I purchased a couple of bits on The Iconic last month and this necklace was one of them. The pendant features stones in the shape of the Aquarius constellation set against a lightweight gold-toned stainless steel chain. The chain can be worn at three different lengths depending on how far down you like a necklace to sit. I love the simplicity and how the necklace also feels semi-personalised with my starsign. The necklace cost around $20 (NZD) and it is well made, it doesn’t feel cheap. A good basic necklace that goes with everything.

4.Postscript by Cecelia Ahern – Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors and when I heard she was a releasing a sequel to PS I Love You I was very excited! PS I Love You is a book that has stayed with me since I read it years ago and the sequel is just as moving and will also stay with me. I read Postscript in two days it was that good. Cecelia Ahern has a writing style that feels warm and friendly and will play on your emotions which is what a good writer should be able to do. My favourite novel of 2019!

Blurb from Goodreads below:

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

October Highlights

  • Continuing to have fun experimenting with Colourpop products.
  • Finished five books in total this month.
  • Tried a new luxury/high end foundation, review to follow in the coming weeks.

October’s Spotify Playlist:


How was your month? Share one of your highlights in the comments!

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September Favourites 2018

September has been a bit of an odd month if I’m honest. After a mostly positive August, my mood slipped again around the middle of the month and I reached a very low point. It’s a reminder that I still have bad days and to be gentle with myself. The feelings became magnified again because it would have been the two year anniversaries for everything for my ex and I: talking to each other, meeting each other, kissing for the first time and I am an incredibly sentimental person. I keep going and try to move on because I hope one day it won’t hurt anymore.

Onto this month’s favourites:

1. MAC – Hug Me – I received Hug Me for free as part of MAC’s National Lipstick Day and it is such a beautiful shade. I will admit I hadn’t heard of it before, maybe because it’s not a hyped up shade that’s often talked about. MAC describe Hug Me as a warm pink with pearl finish but on me the colour has hints of brown as well. Hug Me is a lustre finish which is one of my favourites from MAC, it’s very comfortable to wear and lasts on my lips just as well as other formulas to be honest. A fellow blogging friend, Katie bought the lipstick after seeing me wear it and it’s stunning on her too!

2. xoBeauty Tulip Powder Brush – Before I bought this brush I only had one big, fluffy brush – the Real Techniques Blush Brush – and I tend to use that for bronzer. I really wanted to invest in another one that I can use to sweep blush and highlighter over my cheeks when I want a glowy look or set my face with powder, basically a great multitasking brush that has more than one function. The bristles on this brush are so soft and the tapered end helps to disperse a light wash of product. I love this to apply Soft & Gentle by MAC all over the face or even using it just to apply Soft & Gentle to the tops of my cheeks.

3. Sophie Hannah – The Mystery of Three Quarters – I finished this book in two days and I always think you can tell how much you enjoy a book by how quickly you read it. This is the third ‘new’ Hercule Poirot mystery from Sophie Hannah and she captures the character wonderfully and in a way Agatha Christie would be proud of. I really really hope Sophie Hannah writes more of these!

4. Miss Selfridge Check Scarf – I picked up this scarf on a whim when I placed an ASOS order at the beginning of the month. I ended up sending the item I originally wanted back and keeping the scarf. The scarf is black and bright pink and it is so beautifully warm and soft. My other scarves are neutral, plain colours and this one really pops against black clothing. This scarf is quite long so it can be tied in numerous ways or even worn as a wrap/shawl. It’s good scarf weather in New Zealand at the moment with spring upon us.

5. Goodreads – After almost completing my challenge to read 50 books in a year and sharing blog posts of what I finished, I still wanted to document and keep track of what I read. I’ve heard Goodreads talked about in the blogging community and decided to jump on board and join up. It’s relatively easy to use and I like the organisational component and sorting books into categories/shelves. You can also include the dates you start and finish each book and the website gives you stats about your reading habits. If you have a Goodreads account and want to be friends, add me: https://www.goodreads.com/chanellehayley

September’s Spotify Playlist:


What were your favourite things in September?

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Redhead Rambles #32

Hello everyone and welcome to ‘Redhead Rambles’. The series does what it says on the tin, it is a redhead (me) rambling about her week. I share what I’ve been up to each week, how I’ve been feeling and what I’ve been listening to or watching. Occasionally I will my share favourite blog posts and links I’ve found useful or interesting.

  • The weather last Friday was absolutely stunning!
  • I tidied my room, rearranged my desk and got rid of some clutter.
  • Saturday marked the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere and I created a simple, pretty makeup look which I shared on Instagram.
  • On Saturday afternoon mum and I went into town. I had a craving for Burger King and then we looked in a couple of shops. I bought a pair of pyjama pants, a shirt and some earrings.
  • After being in town I went for a drive in a new spot that enables me to go straight for a decent amount of time and there’s also a couple of roundabouts which is good to start getting used to those. I drove my car and I didn’t panic this time.
  • I was very tired on Saturday night and Sunday night. (Not sure why).
  • My nail split at work on Monday and I had to pull a chunk of it off. Luckily it wasn’t too far down and didn’t hurt.
  • Mum cut my fringe and it always takes a week or so after it’s cut before I like how it looks again.
  • On Monday evening I ordered two things from ASOS – this dress and this scarf. I saw the dress in one of Fleur De Force’s recent videos and I commented on a photo of her wearing it on Instagram saying how pretty it looked. The scarf was a bit of an impulse buy but I really like the red-pink colour of it. A couple of my other scarves are dark so the colour will pop against black clothing. Coincidentally both items are from Miss Selfridge which is a brand I have never purchased from before.
  • On Tuesday I texted a school friend for her birthday and we both agreed to catch up soon.
  • I entered Rachael’s 500K Views Giveaway. Rachael is one of my favourite bloggers, not only is she beautiful and creates stunning makeup looks, she is a machine at finishing up products and is one of the hardest working bloggers.
  • On Wednesday I felt like sparkle so I wore Fuchsia Fusion by NYX from their Cosmic Metals range on my lips. I’m still adamant this is the prettiest lip colour I’ve ever seen!
  • I sang along to some of my favourite Delta Goodrem tracks and caught up with YouTube videos on Wednesday evening.
  • Thursday I spent chilling, and most of the day consisted of reading. I finished an eBook and started my next novel.
  • I joined Goodreads. My challenge to read 50 books in a year ended last Friday (I managed 45 books btw) and I want to try recording what I read on the site so myself and others can see what I enjoy or what I don’t finish. It’ll take a bit of learning to get used to how the site works but it’s an easy way to track things.
  • Thursday’s dinner was Chicken Kiev with boiled potatoes. I don’t have Chicken Kiev very often but I do enjoy garlic and felt like one when I saw them in the supermarket a couple of days earlier.

What I’ve been listening to:

  • My ‘good vibes :)’ playlist on iTunes – This playlist contains songs that I never get tired of listening to and songs that always make me happy.

How was your week?

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What I’ve Been Reading – Winter

I enjoyed this blog series so much and being able to document my reading journey over the past 12 months. I can’t believe how quickly the challenge went! I didn’t achieve my goal of 50 books in one year but I came pretty damn close and I am proud of myself for how well I did. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see how close to 50 books I got!)

Let me know your thoughts on this series and if you enjoyed it. I want to do something similar and track what I read in the next year too. I may join and try Goodreads – I know you can set goals and record books you read. Maybe I’ll continue to post the seasonal roundup images on Instagram if you just want a quick glance at what I’ve been reading too.

NB: Items marked with * are ebooks so I wasn’t able to photograph the cover images myself.

#1. The Weekend Wives – Christina Hopkinson

This story follows three women (Emily, Tamsin and Sasha) who all live the weekend wife lifestyle; their husbands work away from home during the week and often the couples only see each other at weekends. The three women are friends so each of their individual stories intertwine and work within the book cohesively. Tamsin is married to a controlling John, Sasha’s husband Ned spends most of his time in LA and a secret from his past threatens to destroy their relationship and Emily feels like Matt is slipping further and further away. Emily suspects Matt is having an affair, he spends all his time on his phone and is very distant. The women need something to do while their husbands are away so Emily and Sasha try to save Tamsin from John and reacquaint her with her first love. The book deals with a few nitty gritty topics and is not a romance novel by any means. I really enjoyed it!

#2. The Little Flower Shop By the Sea – Ali McNamara

This book has been on my to read list for a while. I read Letters From Lighthouse Cottage by this author and loved it so I was looking forward to getting stuck into this book. Poppy Carmichael inherits her grandmother’s flower shop in the town of St Felix. Poppy has been away from St Felix for quite some time and when she comes back she is not only reminded of her past but she meets local florist Jake and their ‘friendship’ isn’t always smooth sailing. Poppy must confront her past and and learn to let the healing powers of St Felix and the flower shop work their magic. This was a really pleasant read!

#3. 4:50 From Paddington* – Agatha Christie

Elspeth McGillicuddy witnesses a murder at Paddington Station but there doesn’t seem to be a victim, a suspect or any other witnesses. The only person who believes Mrs McGillicuddy is her friend Miss Marple. Miss Marple enlists the help of Lucy Eyelesbarrow who takes up a post at Rutherford Hall and a body is soon discovered. No one is sure who the victim is and suspicion falls on the Crackenthorpe family. It’s up to Miss Marple to help Elspeth remember what she saw to solve the case. This was the first Miss Marple mystery I’ve read and I enjoyed it a lot, it really kept me guessing and going back and forth as to who the murderer was.

#4. A Caribbean Mystery* – Agatha Christie

Marple is abroad in this mystery where supposedly nothing ever happens in paradise until Major Palgrave is found dead. Only the day before he is found murdered the Major was telling Miss Marple about a murder that happened a few years ago and tries to show her an incriminating photograph until something, or rather someone in the distance catches his eye. Interrupted, Major Palgrave doesn’t get to finish his story and Miss Marple is determined to solve who he saw that afternoon and piece together why the Major was silenced.

#5. How To Fall In Love – Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favourite authors and I hadn’t read anything from her for quite a while until this book. Christine stops Adam from jumping off Ha’penny Bridge and tries to teach him how to fall back in love with his life in the two weeks leading up to his 35th birthday. Through a series of wild escapades, romantic gestures, and late night outings Christine is determined to change Adam’s mind and if Adam does change his mind will Christine be able to let go of him? This book deals with serious topics (suicide and depression) and credit to the author for handling them with care and in such a beautiful way. I found this book relatable, the characters had recently been through break ups and Christine always wants what’s best for everyone and wants to help.

#6. The Darkest Secret – Alex Marwood

This book is an example of a cleverly written blurb that makes the story sound more intriguing than it is. I finished the book within a week so I didn’t hate it but it wasn’t as gripping as the cover made it seem. The book is set over two weekends 12 years apart, the first weekend in 2004 sees identical twin Coco go missing during a family celebration and the second is the weekend of Coco’s father’s funeral. There are lots of different characters which does keep the reader guessing about what really happened to Coco but the reveal isn’t groundbreaking.

#7. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine* – Gail Honeyman

I have heard mixed reviews about this book but I knew I wanted to read it anyway! Eleanor Oliphant struggles with social skills and says exactly what she’s thinking. Eleanor’s routine lifestyle begins to change when she meets Raymond (the IT guy from her office) and the two of them help an elderly gentleman when he falls on the sidewalk. Raymond helps Eleanor deal with her emotions, repair her heart and come to terms with her eventful past. The book doesn’t explicitly state the two become a couple but by the way the ending is written I like to think it is implied. In some ways I relate to Eleanor. I’m not always good in social situations and don’t have savoir faire, sometimes things can be awkward. I like the fact Eleanor stays true to who she is and doesn’t change and finds Raymond who accepts that. I don’t dislike the book but I think it is over-hyped. That being said I’ll be interested to watch the film when it’s released.

#8. The Summer of Serendipity – Ali McNamara

This is the third book I have read by Ali McNamara and it is my least favourite so far.  Serendipity ‘Ren’ Parker is a property seeker and finds herself on the west coast of Ireland hunting for a home for a client. She finds the perfect house but no one knows who owns it. It’s up to Ren to track down the owner and uncover the legend surrounding the property. In the middle of all of this Ren finds herself distracted by Finn, the manager of the local hotel. I still enjoyed the book but there wasn’t much in the way of plot and I wish there had been more about Ren and Finn’s relationship.

#9. Let Me Lie – Clare Mackintosh

Anna Johnson’s parents supposedly committed suicide seven months apart but on the anniversary of her mother’s death Anna gets a card in the mail which makes her start to question if her parents were murdered and if someone is trying to taunt her. Anna involves Murray McKenzie who is a former police officer and together they figure out what really went on. There are unexpected twists and the ending isn’t what I imagined at all. Someone I follow on Twitter loved a book by this author (not sure if it was this exact one) but when I saw this at work I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. This was much more enjoyable than the previous thriller I read, The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood.

#10. Still Me – Jojo Moyes

I have been waiting to read this since it was released! Still Me follows Louisa Clark’s adventures in New York. Louisa lands herself a job working for Leonard Gopnik and his wife and also has to deal with her long distance relationship with paramedic Sam who is back in The UK. Sam comes to New York to visit Louisa but it doesn’t all quite go to plan and Louisa starts questioning who she really is and what she wants; job wise and relationship wise. During this time Louisa befriends Mrs De Witt who lives in the same building as the Gopniks and she begins to realise what it is she wants. This story has a sweet ending which leaves the possibility open for a fourth book but there seems to be a little bit of Louisa charm missing. It’s my least favourite book out of the three but I’m still a big fan of the series.

#11. A Different Kind of Evil – Andrew Wilson

I read Andrew Wilson’s previous Agatha Christie mystery earlier in the year and loved it. I haven’t read many mysteries this season compared to others and it was good to get stuck into another one. Wilson uses Agatha Christie as a character and creates stories based on factual elements of her life. The story begins with Agatha traveling to the Canary Islands to investigate the death of an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Whilst onboard the cruise ship she witnesses a woman fling herself over the side of the ship. Throughout her stay at The Grand Hotel she learns the young woman’s suicide is related to the murder of the SIS agent and it’s up to her to uncover the truth. This book was such a pleasure to read and I’m so happy there’s going to be a third book.

#12. Let’s Meet On Platform 8 – Carole Matthews

Teri is on the hunt for Mr Right. She’s been through Mr Lazy, Mr Greedy and Mr Completely Selfish to name a few and whilst waiting for a train one evening she is literally knocked off her feet by Jamie Duncan. Quickly their relationship begins to blossom but the only question is, is Mr Right Mr Available? I feel like I have to spoil this book to share what I thought of it. Jamie is married with children and initially Jamie and Teri’s relationship is friendly and they catch the train together but it does develop and Jamie and Teri end up sleeping together after much deliberation from Jamie. Pamela finds out about Jamie and Teri and Jamie and Pamela end up staying together – Jamie breaks things off with Teri. As a reader I felt this story was written in a gentle, respectful way. Jamie wasn’t using Teri and Teri truly did care for Jamie, there’s a part of me that almost wanted them to stay together.

#13. Some Kind of Wonderful* – Giovanna Fletcher

Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since university and after being together for decade and a trip to Dubai on the horizon everyone thinks a proposal is imminent. Instead of the proposal Lizzy hopes for Ian reveals he doesn’t want them to be together anymore. Lizzy is heartbroken but she soon realises this is her chance to seize opportunities and figure out who she really is apart from Ian with the help of friends, family and a potential new man. This was an easy book to read with a lighthearted story about finding yourself after a breakup.

Unfinished:

(Any unfinished books will not be included in the total yearly count).

#1. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop In Paris – Jenny Colgan

This book sounds like a girl’s dream, romance, Paris and chocolate but I couldn’t get into it at all. The book is told in two parts. The modern day story follows Anna to Paris where she gets a job with a master chocolatier after an accident which lands her in hospital back in England. Whilst in hospital she reconnects with her former French teacher Claire whose backstory forms the other part of the book. Claire’s story takes place in 1972 when she is an au pair in Paris. Claire and Thierry (the master chocolatier) were a couple and that’s how she gets Anna the job. Anna also possibly finds love with Thierry’s son but I didn’t read on to see if that was the case. Not the girly, chick lit story I was hoping for.


Books finished in winter = 13.

Total number of books read = 45.

Other posts in the series:


Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post?

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Day (or Two) In the Life

Last week on Instagram stories I asked what posts followers would like to see on the blog and I got this suggestion from Dannii (A Beautiful Thing). I have written similar posts before – What I Do In a Daybut this time I decided to share what I got up to during my days off from work and actually share two days rather than one. Nothing overly exciting happened, I am mostly a homebody but it is an accurate representation of how I spend some of my time.

Friday 17/08/18:

7:02 am: Wake up and first scroll through social media.

7:47 am: Feed Halo and take daily medication.

8:00 am: Back to bed.

10:00 am: Get up, brush teeth and moisturise face.

10:23 am: Breakfast; Toffee Nut Latte (in my favourite cat cup) and a banana.

10:30 am: Second scroll through social media, catching up on Instagram stories this time.

11:06 am: Empty dishwasher.

11:30 am: Get dressed. OOTD is a cream jumper and black leggings.

11:38 am: Trying to figure out whether Deja Vu by xoBeauty is too beige for my skin tone. (I decided to keep the lipstick).

1:15 pm: Driving practice. Got very anxious and upset on today’s drive.

3:16 pm: Watch YouTube videos and prep blog posts.

4:58 pm: Listened to Sweetener by Ariana Grande on Spotify.

7:10 pm: Dinner; pork chop, vegetables and gravy.

7:30 pm: Watch The Chase.

8:43 pm: Laptop time. Spent a while browsing the Feel Unique website and watched a few more YouTube videos.

11:20 pm: Daily bullet journal entry and added some things in my Filofax for this week.

11:42 pm: Read then sleep.

Saturday 18/08/18:

7:44 am: Feed Halo and take morning medications.

7:55 am: Back to sleep.

9:30 am: Alarm goes off and scroll through social media.

10:12 am: Get up and brush teeth.

10:17 am: Texted a friend about meeting up for hot chocolate.

10:21 am: Breakfast; yoghurt.

10:53 am: Post image to Instagram.

11:50 am: Read blog posts on WordPress reader.

1:09 pm: Vacuum.

2:55 pm: Garlic bread for lunch.

3:20 pm: Cut mum’s fringe.

3:39 pm: Shower.

4:33 pm: Read on the couch.

7:00 pm: Watch The Chase and Silent Witness.

9:05 pm: Watch YouTube videos and browse the internet. I looked at the Target Australia website and another website for handbags.

10:40 pm: Final scroll through Instagram for the day and read.

11:38 pm: Lights out, time for sleep.


How do you like to spend your days off? Do you plan things or catch up on chores or a mixture of both?

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Reading Habits Book Tag

I stumbled across this tag a couple of weeks ago over on Starring Pamela’s blog. As I’m sure most of you know by now I am aiming to read 50 books by the beginning of September.  I thought it would be fun to share more about my reading habits with you!

1. Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

I prefer an actual bookmark but if I don’t have one with me and I do have a piece of paper I will use that. My current bookmark is from Book Depository and it has all the starsigns and dates on it. I’m an Aquarius which is at the top of the bookmark so I have a little bit of that end sticking out.

2. Stop reading randomly or after a chapter/certain amount of pages?

I like to stop reading at the end of a page with a full stop, I can’t stop mid-sentence. Even better if the full stop happens to be at the end of a chapter.

3. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Usually I sit on my bed or the couch, so, yes.

4. Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

No. I don’t want to spill anything on the book and I don’t like to be distracted when I read, I like to be fully immersed in the pages of what I’m reading.

5. Multitasking: music or TV when reading?

I can tolerate if someone has it on in the background but when it’s just me I prefer silence.

6. One book at a time or several?

One book at a time for sure, I’d start getting plots and characters confused if I had more than one on the go.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere (within reason). I read at work on lunch breaks, I go out into the community as part of the Mobile Library and I’ve started taking a book with me then as well. I can’t read on the bus or in the car though, I start to feel sick after a while. With the eBook apps I’ve downloaded onto my phone and iPad I could have a book with me wherever I go if I wanted.

8. Reading out loud or silently?

Silently. Slightly off topic, but I don’t like audiobooks. I’d rather read the story myself and that way I don’t have time to kill while I listen to the story and get distracted and start thinking of other things. Audiobooks are like baths for me, people love them and enjoy them but I don’t get the hype.

9. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I try my best to keep the spine like new, it’s much easier with hardcover books but if the spine breaks a little as I read I don’t mind.

10. Do you write in your books?

Nope.


Fellow bibliophiles, I’d love to see you do this tag too! If you don’t want to do the entire tag, pick one question and answer it in the comments.

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What I’ve Been Reading – Autumn

I am three quarters of the way through my challenge to read 50 books by the beginning of September 2018. At the end of my previous update I was feeling a little disheartened because I should have been halfway through my target of 50 books and I wasn’t. I have picked things up and have made significant progress the past three months and I may be back on track to meet the target!

NB: Items marked with * are ebooks so I wasn’t able to photograph the cover images myself.

#1. Girl Online – Zoe Sugg

I do subscribe to Zoe on YouTube and was curious to see what her books are like. I commend Zoe for knowing her audience and what would be an appropriate book. The topics in this story are very relatable, even to me at age 23 despite the book being a little thin on plot. The social media aspects are relevant and the book confronts trolling and online hate. I don’t feel the need to read the other two books in the series. I don’t feel I’m missing out by not reading them.

#2. Taken At the Flood – Agatha Christie

This was the least action packed Poirot mystery of the ones I have read so far but the last 40 pages were really exciting and the ending surprised me. The way Agatha Christie writes is simple but she creates twists and turns that the reader doesn’t often expect until you think back over everything and realise it all makes sense. I love reading these mysteries and I’m looking forward to my next one!

#3. A Whole Lot of History – Kimberley Walsh

I haven’t read a musical biography in the longest time and this book reminded me why I love them so much. Not only do you learn about the people behind the songs and their personal stories you are told anecdotes about the songs themselves and given a small insight into the music industry. This book showed how lovely Kimberley is and I learnt more about different aspects of her personality. She was frank and honest but never in a nasty, judgemental way.

#4. The F Word – Lily Pebbles

First of all I want to defend Lily and stick up for her. Some of the reviews on GoodReads state that this book is like a diary and isn’t well written. The cover does say “A personal exploration of modern female friendship” so of course Lily is going to talk about herself and her friendships. I like that she gives examples of things that have gone well and haven’t gone so well in friendships. I did get a sense of Lily reading this book, it feels like you’re having a catch up with her and everything comes across naturally. One of my favourite parts was trying to identify which friend type I am, for example,  the older sister friend, the realist or the work wife, to name a few. The main lesson I took away from this book is to look carefully at myself as a friend and analyse how I can be a better friend.

#5. The Mysterious Affair At Styles* – Agatha Christie

This is the very first novel in which Hercule Poirot is introduced. Out of the Agatha Christie books I’ve read this is one of my favourites. The story is gripping, simple and classic. Death by poisioning, check. Whole host of suspects staying in a fancy manor house, check. Adulterous affairs, check. I finished it in two days. I like how the story is told from Hastings’ viewpoint, it really sets up the relationship between him and Poirot for future novels.

#6. A Talent For Murder – Andrew Wilson

It wasn’t until I picked up this book that I notice I don’t read as many books written by male authors as female. There’s no reason behind that and I really enjoyed this book. The plot centres around the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie in December 1926. The author comes up with a fictional scenario as to what happened (the sentence on the cover gives you a good idea) as the mystery has never been solved. A good read and I am looking forward to the follow up called ‘A Different Kind of Evil.’

#7. Murder On the Orient Express* – Agatha Christie

This is without a doubt one of Agatha’s most famous stories and a few movies and TV specials have been made based on this story. I have seen the 2017 film, the 2010 Poirot episode and now read the book so I know the story well. I found the book the most enjoyable and the least confusing, if you know the ending you might understand why but I won’t spoil it if you don’t.  I’ve got yet more Poirot mysteries lined up to read – I really love them!

#8. Peril At End House* – Agatha Christie

This is one of Agatha Christie’s earlier Poirot novels, #8 in the series. This mystery is also told from Hastings’ point of view. I found this particular Poirot story very clever in the way it played out. I realised what was happening at the end and it really reinforces how talented Agatha Christie is with deception. I have been reading most of the Poirot stories in this seasonal update as ebooks and it’s really convenient, I have the books on my phone and my iPad so I can read wherever I am.

#9. Finding Your Path – A Guide To Life & Happiness After School – Amba Brown

I am thankful this book was only 100 pages. I didn’t find it useful and even though I’m not a recent school leaver I thought I could get something from it. I did like the graphic illustrations and the quotes!

#10. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd* – Agatha Christie

This is one of Agatha Christie’s most popular novels which I think is because of the ending and how Poirot solves the case. In 2013, The British Crime Writers’ Association voted it the best crime novel ever. I have seen the television adaptation of this novel which I recall I found more exciting than the novel. This isn’t one of my favourite Agatha Christie books if I’m being honest. I’m not sure if knowing the ending before reading skewed my perception of the story. I had seen Murder On the Orient Express before reading it and I enjoyed reading that as much as watching it. Despite that, the ending of Roger Ackroyd  is really clever even if you know the story.

#11. And Then There Were None* – Agatha Christie

This is Agatha Christie’s bestselling novel and one of the world’s bestselling mysteries and books of all time. I remember the television adaption of this story and it is written so well and keeps the reader guessing right until the very end. The story is not predictable and there is even an epilogue which explains how all the murders were done. If you like mystery stories and haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it.

#12. Doing It! Let’s Talk About Sex – Hannah Witton

I don’t remember how I stumbled across Hannah on YouTube but I have watched a small number of her videos and have always found her content to be helpful and informative. When I saw Angela (The Life of Angela) talk about this book on her blog I knew I wanted to read it too. I don’t know what I was expecting but I thought there would be more of Hannah’s personal stories. Yes, she probably shares those on YouTube but if you aren’t aware she makes videos you won’t get that information. Not a bad read but not groundbreaking.

#13. Afternoon Tea At the Sunflower Cafe – Milly Johnson

I started reading this book, I got a third of the way through and I put it down and came back to it. I did try to implement my 100 page rule; if I don’t like a book, move on to the next one but the fact I got to page 210 urged me to pick it back up and keep going. When I did pick up the book again I hadn’t forgotten the story and it was refreshing to read something lighthearted after a number of mysteries and a few non-fiction offerings. I’m glad I went back to this book, the story was slow to start but I was satisfied with the ending and I may look into other books from this author.

#14. Letters From Lighthouse Cottage – Ali McNamara

I love the cover of this book so much and the story was just as good! The story takes place over the course of 30 years and is split into parts. Grace (the main character) helped her parents with their antiques business and found a typewriter one day which she keeps. The typewriter adds a whimsical element to the story as it writes her letters and gives her advice throughout stages of her life. Grace goes off to university, travels and gets married but begins to realise that home is where the heart is.

#15. Break-ups & Breakthroughs – Lisa Messenger

This book only took me a day to read and the imagery inside is beautiful, the pages are full of cute designs and inspirational quotes. Lisa shares 50 tips to help people going through a breakup and I found myself identifying with some of the things she was saying and one of the biggest lessons I took from this book is that it’s ok to be sad for a while. You will start to feel better in time and feel like finding love again.

#16. Appointment With Death – Agatha Christie

This mystery started off a little slow but in true Agatha Christie form kept me guessing all the way through. I didn’t have any idea who the murderer was until that person was revealed by Poirot. Not one of my favourite Poirot mysteries but still not a bad read.

Unfinished:

There were no unfinished books this season. Each one I started I finished!


Books finished in autumn = 16.

Total number of books read = 32.

Other posts in the series:


Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post?

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Sunshine Blogger Award

Hi everyone! Last month the lovely Pamela over at Starring Pamela tagged me to do the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thinking back briefly over my four years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve done this one before which is exciting! Make sure you visit Pamela’s blog if you haven’t already and I hope you enjoy this post!

Rules:

1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Pamela’s Questions:

1. What is your main goal of 2018?

To read 50 books in a year. I started in September 2017 and I’ve got until September 2018 to achieve it. I think it will be close but I might not hit 50.

2. Do you believe in any conspiracy theories?

No but I find some of them interesting.

3. What is your favorite organizational style?

Minimalistic.

4. Do you have any hidden talents?

I can sing. I did a talent quest at school and sang in front of strangers so it’s not just my mum who’s told me I’m good.

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

England/The UK; until I have visited this answer won’t change!

6. What is one touristy thing in your hometown that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Relax in the hot pools. I live in a very geothermic city with geysers and lots of natural hot springs.

7. Do you have any surprising hobbies?

I like to watch ODI cricket when NZ play and it’s on free to air television.

8. Favorite type of socks?

Ankle socks.

9. Do you have one go-to handbag or change them up often?

I tend to stick with the same handbag unless I need a bigger one for a certain day or want my bag to match my outfit.

10. What is something you’re looking forward to this week?

Seeing my boyfriend, I look forward to that every week 😛

11. What is the most recent song you’ve listened to?

Natalie Bassingthwaighte  – Alive (at the time of writing this post).

My Nominees:

My Questions:

  1. What is the most recent song you’ve listened to?
  2. Summer or winter? Why?
  3. Do you have any pets?
  4. What’s your favourite comfort food?
  5. Apple or Samsung?
  6. Why did you start blogging?
  7. Is there something you haven’t done before but would like to?
  8. What are your most visited websites?
  9. Do you believe in soulmates?
  10. Best piece of life advice you’ve received?
  11. What was the last book you read?

If you do participate I can’t wait to read your answers!

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What I’ve Been Reading – Summer

It is time for the second seasonal round up and it means I am halfway through my challenge of trying to read 50 books in 12 months. I started the challenge in September 2017.

At the start of summer I was zooming along, meeting my aim of one book a week. I picked up a few duds along the way and tried to persist with them but they slowed me down. Ideally I would have read 25 books by now but that is not the case. All hits and misses are outlined below.

#1. About Last Night – Catherine Alliott

I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while and sadly I was underwhelmed. I didn’t find it funny or irresistible as the cover suggests. This book took me longer than some of the previous ones I’ve read in this challenge as it wasn’t keeping me interested. The story is kind of dull and there’s not a lot going on. Molly has swapped London for rural Herefordshire and when a relative of her late husband’s leaves a London townhouse in her possession she has to decide whether she will go back to her London lifestyle or make a go of her country life. Along the way the reader meets three potential suitors for Molly and one of the things that kept me reading was to see which one she chooses. The story is long winded but if you’re a fan of this author you’ll probably like it.

#2. After the Funeral – Agatha Christie

I read my first Agatha Christie mystery in the Spring roundup and instantly knew I wanted to read more. As someone who watched the stories on TV before reading them I didn’t realise how quick and easy the books are to read. The stories are well thought out and explained and all loose ends are tied up. I briefly remember this episode of Poirot and was almost certain I knew who the culprit was – I was correct.

#3. The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah

I have been on a real Agatha Christie murder mystery kick lately and I discovered Sophie Hannah has written two ‘new’ Hercule Poirot mysteries (I’m hoping for more). The character of Hercule Poirot is captured beautifully and Sophie Hannah does a brilliant job with him. Poirot has a new sidekick, Edward Catchpool who works at Scotland Yard, and the books are told from his point of view. This mystery was exciting, gripping and had plenty of twists and turns. Sophie Hannah’s books are longer than Agatha Christie’s but the story doesn’t feel drawn out. If you’re a Poirot fan, you’ll love them!

#4. The Anxiety Toolkit – Alice Boyes

This book was a quick, easy read but personally I didn’t find it called out to my anxiety. The quizzes at the start of each chapter were useful as it gave you an idea how much each chapter would relate to you and what you might like to take away from that section. I thought the book would include more tips on how to cope with different types of anxiety but it seemed to generalise rather than give specific examples. It didn’t teach me anything about anxiety, for example how many people suffer from it or the common types.

#5. Closed Casket – Sophie Hannah

This is the second ‘new’ Hercule Poirot novel. The story is typical Poirot, the mystery takes place at a grand, upper class house and there is a whole host of suspects. The story is simple and revolves around figuring out whodunnit. Catchpool returns as Poirot’s sidekick and together they find the culprit. I really, really hope Sophie Hannah writes more Poirot mysteries!

#6. How To Find Love In a Bookshop – Veronica Henry

This book was an easy, enjoyable read. The story centres around Emilia who takes over Nightingale Books after her father passes away. Emilia battles trying to keep the shop open with her personal life and we meet some of the bookshop’s customers along the way and learn the books they all cherish. The story felt very real and believable and I will look into other books by Veronica Henry as a result.

#7. Billy & Me – Giovanna Fletcher

I read this book in four days. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the way the delicate moments and emotional conversations are written. Sophie May is the lead character who works in the local tea shop, lives with her mum and doesn’t have a lot of friends. When actor Billy Buskin comes to town and sweeps Sophie off her feet, her quiet life starts to turn around. Sophie has to cope with media scrutiny, actor life with Billy as well as her own insecurities. Part of the reason I liked this story so much is because I can relate to some of Sophie’s insecurities. As a reader you’re rooting for Sophie and you want her to be happy. I won’t spoil the book for you but the ending doesn’t disappoint.

Unfinished:

(Any unfinished books will not be included in the total yearly count).

#1. A Is For Arsenic – Kathryn Harkup

I have been enjoying Agatha Christie’s books lately and I thought this non-fiction offering would be just as interesting. Agatha Christie was famous for using various poisons in her stories and this book talks about how they work and references the Agatha Christie stories the poisons are used in. When I borrowed the book I didn’t realise it would be so science based. I find the asterisks and all the footnotes hard to follow, there are multiple on each page. I got 50 pages in before deciding not to continue. Life’s too short to read books that don’t interest you. If you like science you would find this interesting but I’m more into creative stories.

#2. Highland Fling – Katie Fforde

Katie Fforde is an author whose name I’ve seen pop up a lot but I’d never actually read any of her work. I briefly browsed through a list of her books and what they are about and settled on Highland Fling. The story sounds right up my street but this book doesn’t have any action and I almost felt like as I was reading it I didn’t know what was happening. I made it two thirds of the way through before realising I’ve been reading this book for almost a month, (usually I can finish a book in a week) and I’m not enjoying it so I should move onto something else. How long it takes me to read a book is a sign of whether I like it or not.


Books finished in summer = 7.

Total number of books read = 16.

Other posts in the series:


Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post?

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