Friday, 27 March 2015

March Favourites | 2015

Hello and welcome to my March favourites! At the end of every month I show you the things I've been loving recently, from beauty products and books to music and apps, and I'm sure food will feature, too, at some point... Enjoy!

Christophe Robin masque régénérant // £37 // Christophe Robin

This is a sample I received a while ago from one of my favourite authors, Carina Axelsson, and it is a miracle in a packet. If you've watched any of my videos, you might have noticed my hair is a bit of a frizz bomb. The only time it actually does what I want it to do is when I'm at home with no plans - isn't that always the way? This hair mask smells amazing, which is always a good thing and, unlike other masks I've used in the past, there is a noticeable improvement afterwards. It's expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for (it's worth noting here that I only have the sample - the actual product is much bigger!)

This is Not a Love Story by Keren David and True Face by Siobhan Curham // The Book Depository

I love all of Keren David's books, and I think This is Not a Love Story might be my favourite. I won't say too much about it because my review will be up soon, but what I will say is that I really, really want to go to Amsterdam. I've always wanted to, but this book has made me even more desperate to go. ❤

Again, I won't say too much about True Face because the review will be up soon, but it's such an important book that I think everyone needs to read. I genuinely think the world would be a better place if everyone read it.

Twilight bath bomb // £3.35 // Lush

I included a couple of Lush bath bombs in my January favourites, but this one is my overall favourite no matter what month it is! When you put Twilight in the bath, it turns from pink to blue, dark blue, and eventually lilac. It's so pretty and definitely lives up to its name! The smell is subtle and reminds me of a soap of theirs I was obsessed with a few years ago - I think it might have been Honey I Washed The Kids but I'm not sure. Anyway, I've discovered that this bath bomb is the only thing that can make me properly relax, so if you're like me and have trouble relaxing, maybe give this a try.

Now I understand why Twilight has been hyped so much - it's not for nothing, trust me!

Anker Astro Mini Portable Power Bank // £13.99 // Amazon

This thing is a lifesaver. You charge it fully, just like you would your phone, and then take it with you next time you go out. If your phone dies, just connect it to the Anker power bank with your usual USB lead and it'll charge! This has come in handy so many times, and I'd say it's a blogging essential. I was at the Insurgent premiere a couple of weeks ago and, just as the celebrities were making their way to our end of the red carpet, my phone died. Not only had I been hoping to get selfies with the cast, but I was also blogging and vlogging with it. Luckily, I had this charger in my bag and it was all good again.

Just a note: if you're planning to buy this, it's currently reduced from £39.99 to £13.99! Wuuuut.

Cimorelli at the O2 Academy Islington in London // 21st March 2015

I've decided this feature can include memories. Those of you who know know me will know that I love a band called Cimorelli and have done for nearly three years. The band is made up of six sisters from ages 14 to 24 and they've been making cover videos on YouTube since 2007. Now they have a record deal, several original EPs, an album in progress and they just flew all the way from the US to do a European tour. They're not hugely well known at the moment, but that's rapidly changing.

They only had one UK date on their tour, so I'm really happy that I was actually available on that date. The concert was incredible - they performed 19 songs, all of which you can see here, and I had an amazing view despite being short in a crowd of tall people. I didn't get pictures with the girls but I did get a selfie with their mum, which is possibly even better considering the fact that she is, y'know, the reason they exist. When I was on the tube home, Katherine Cimorelli sent me a DM thanking me for coming to the show. They really are the nicest people.

What have you been loving this month?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Top 4 Tips for Blogging Safely

We all know that the Internet can be a dangerous place, especially for us bloggers who have to give out our personal details on a daily basis. In the past, bloggers have been stalked *cough* Kathleen Hale *cough* and so I thought it might be good to share a few tips on staying safe as a book blogger - although this can apply to anyone who uses the Internet.

We already know the basic tips (don't share your full name online, blah blah blah - we all do it, anyway) so I've come up with some that you might not have thought of.

Don't share that photo

I've seen so many bloggers tweet photos of a pile of book post with the address label on the envelope clearly visible. I know, it's exciting getting book post and you want to show everyone immediately, so it's really easy to forget, but in doing so, you're freely giving away your address to thousands - potentially millions - of people. 

If you want to share a photo like that, I recommend covering up your address with a piece of paper, or blurring out your address with an app - here's the one I use.

Location settings are not your friend

Most social networking sites and apps give you the ability to switch on your location settings. If you do so, you're inadvertently giving away the address of your current location, which might be your home or the home of a loved one. It's so easy to accidentally do this on Instagram or Twitter. I'm always seeing fellow book bloggers posting photos to Instagram, and above the photos is the name of their location. All it takes is a simple tap, and boom - I now have a map on my screen with a pointer right over your current location, as do all of your other followers. I'm not going to do anything with those details, but there are many people who might.

If you must turn on your location settings, or you really want to check-in on Facebook, I have a few tips for you which I always do myself. Firstly, if possible, do it when you're not at home or at the house of a friend/family member, so you're not giving out personal addresses.

Secondly, only check in when you're about to leave your current location. That way, if anyone does decide to come and find you (which I doubt, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?) you'll be long gone.

So what if you're home alone?

As a book blogger, there are plenty of people who know my address, and do you know how many times I've almost tweeted something like, "finally got the house to myself!" but stopped myself just in time? It's just not a good idea, especially if you're young and especially if Twitter adds your location. It's unlikely, but who knows who might turn up at your door? (Plus, there isn't much point in updating social media with that, anyway... so what if you're home alone?)

No one needs to know you're on holiday

Last year I went on holiday and did some things I probably shouldn't have done: I tweeted when I was leaving, I tweeted on the fourteen-hour journey (although, honestly, what else was I supposed to do to pass the time?) and I posted photos on Instagram throughout the holiday.

That's a bad idea, but it's not as bad as what I used to do here and on my old blog: I used to publish a post a few days before leaving saying something along the lines of "Sorry, I'll be on holiday from the 12th to the 25th, so there won't be any new posts until I get back!"

Firstly, people don't care if you're not going to be posting for a week or two. It sounds harsh, but it's true. If you didn't announce it beforehand, no one would have noticed you were gone. Secondly, and most importantly, by doing what I did, you're announcing the dates that your house will be empty to all of your blog followers. Hmm.

These are things that we all do, me included, without really thinking about it. In fact, I've done all of these. The blogging world often feels like a safe place to be, but nonetheless, these are still tips that everyone should be following.

Do you have any tips for online safety?

Friday, 20 March 2015

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Published by: Penguin Random House UK
Publication date: 10th May 2012
Pages: 213
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance/Road trip
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought.

19 Katherines and counting...

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a blood-thirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

I didn't think I'd like The Fault in Our Stars, but I did. I didn't think I'd like Paper Towns, but I did. I didn't think I'd like Looking for Alaska, but I did. I thought I'd love An Abundance of Katherines, but I ended up detesting it. Take from that what you will.

Alright, people, brace yourselves. I'm about to give one star to a John Green book.

An Abundance of Katherines is one of the most boring books I have ever read, and I am not exaggerating. Nothing happens. There's no point to the story. It's just a washed-up child prodigy going on a road trip, obsessing over mathematical formulas and people called Katherine for no real reason. That is genuinely it. But I guess you want to know why I hated it in a bit more detail.

The first on a list of many things I found annoying about this book is the flow - or lack of it. A good example of this is when Colin and his friends, Hassan and Lindsey, had to interview the locals for a project - a completely unnecessary project which was never fully explained - and we, as the readers, are subjected to pages and pages of fictional people we know absolutely nothing about, talking about how their town used to be in the old days. There was no point to this whatsoever, and after a while I just started to skip these pages because they were so dull.  It seemed like Green was just writing and writing until he thought of something interesting he could make happen.

I guess he never thought of anything.

What's second on my list? Colin and his obsessive complaining. He used to be a child prodigy but he's past the point of being a child, and we're not allowed to forget it, considering he complains about no longer being a child prodigy on what seems to be every other page.

Next up is the constant use of 'fugging' in place of a certain f-word. I mean, fine, if you're going to say it once every few pages or so. But several times in one sentence? Really? It was irritating. Even more irritating were the footnotes, which only succeeded in pulling me out of the story, on the rare occasion that I was in it in the first place, and mathematical diagrams that made no sense to me were uselessly littered throughout.

To actually get through this book - because, yes, I did finish it, surprisingly - I read around fifty pages a day. Any more than that and I started to fall asleep. And I don't nap. Ever. So that shows how bored I was. Green's other books are great, but this one? In my opinion, it's not worth the time.
On a more positive note, who's seen the trailer for Paper Towns? I was skeptical when the casting was announced a few months ago - I mean, Cara? Really? - but after watching the trailer I can't imagine anyone else playing Margo. It's perfect and I'm more excited for Paper Towns than I was for The Fault in Our Stars! What do you all think?