Sunday, 28 August 2016

Beauty Review: Lush's Guardian of the Forest Bath Bomb.

I'm back from my short and sweet trip up to Northumberland with my family and what better way to get back into 'home mode' than a bath? I always need to wash off the travel before I truly feel comfortable. So I thought I'd try out one of the Lush Oxford Street Exclusives that I'm still making my way through from March's haul!

I'm sure you can tell from my blog design but green is my absolute favourite colour, so I was ready to soak in it. It's not the most common colour for a bath bomb but Lush never lets that stop them, eh? And really- the design is beautiful...

Now, green may be my favourite colour but earthy scents are not so I was surprised by how much I liked sitting in the tub with this fizzing around. It was just- relaxing. Like sitting outside in a forest minus the bugs. And the water, oh, the water. A deep green with golden shimmer that didn't stick to the skin. All in all, I spent a good hour in that tub and came out more refreshed than I was all holiday.

I'll definitely pick it up again next time I go on a Lush binge because despite being £4.25, I think you could split it in two and get the same effect. And it's online!

Are you going to pick one up? How do you feel about earthy scents?

Monday, 22 August 2016

Book Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout!

At some point in the past couple years I stopped reading young adult books very often. Which is ridiculous because not only am I writing a YA book, but YA was what got my out of the biggest reading slump of my life. So when I was invited to an event where Jennifer L Armentrout was the guest of honour, I thought I should read her book I owned. And I loved it.

Starting over sucks. When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth. 
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something... unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me. 
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is.

I love aliens and I love book blogging, so a character who discovers aliens while running a book blog? Count me in. And any aliens reading my blog, feel free to follow!

Obsidian was, at times, a little Twilight; a male figure of power being mean to a teenage girl to keep her safe away from him. But this story excelled at the importance of honesty, and how things get a lot easier when people aren't lying. I can't tell you the amount of times I've been infuriated with characters that don't just tell the truth! Obsidian isn't honesty hour all the time, but Katy takes no nonsense.

Speaking of, the main character Katy managed to be both unsure and self-confident in a way only teenage girls manage. A lot of YA can't balance wanting to be realistic, and idealistic when it comes to body-confidence and self love, but Armentrout nailed it. And friendship was always the top dog. Sure, the romance was steamy and all, but a YA female character putting in time with her best friend was near revolutionary.

And lets talk about the book blogger angle! I honestly love how much Jennifer gets being a book blogger. This isn't an idealistic view of the work we put in; Katy mentions things like not getting paid, doing it because of love but that it "would be sweet" if she was. Armentrout obviously loves books and reading because Katy does and it's such an honest feeling. Just like Aurora Teagarden. I love these kinds of books because not only does the protagonist and I have something in common, it staves off any reading slump. There's nothing like getting excited about reading to make me want to read, and getting that while reading is a win-win.

For me, the only time this book wasn't the example of what YA should be, was the cookie cutter plot and resolution. While I was super impressed that Jennifer L. Armentrout wrote this in 7 days (I know, right?) it didn't hit that sweet spot for me when I can tell an author has spent a long time plotting and foreshadowing. But you know what? Bring on the rest of the Lux series. Not everything has to be English Literature class complicated. This book was fun.

I was always able to lose myself in reading. Books were a necessary escape I always gladly jumped into head first.

Have you read Obsidian? What did you think?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Book Haul: YALC Edition!

If anyone actually went to YALC and didn't buy a book, how did you manage? I thought I was going to be so self controlled since I had just hauled some books that week. But no. I ended up bringing home double the amount of books I went with. YALC, I love you, but my bank balance doesn't.

The Waterstones tote was must-buy. I love anything with shelves on it.

Doodle A Day and Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
Despite Chris Riddell being my most owned illustrator, I realised while I was at YALC that all of the books I own by him are written by other people. So I picked up the first Goth Girl book which had been on my Amazon wish list for a while, and then added his Doodle A Day journal because his talk has inspired me to try drawing as a kind of emotional release. Heck, any excuse to add more Chris Riddell books to my shelves.

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy
On day one of YALC, I went to Claire Hennessy's Creative Writing workshop. She just had the most wonderful energy that I bought her book and took it to get signed so I could tell her that I really enjoyed learning from her. It sounds like a really interesting book as well. I'm looking forward to reading this ASAP.

Wonder Boy by Nicole Burstein
I took Nicole Bursteins debut novel; Other Girl to YALC after adoring it last year. When I was there, I saw her new book Wonder Boy which hadn't been released at the time, in the Waterstones stall. I had to pick it up and I can't wait to finish this companion duology. These are the books I wish I had as a kid.

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
This isn't for me, as I didn't get along with Gone and his other stories don't really appeal to me personally. However, he's one of my best friends favourite authors and she's just moved in to a new place so- what better housewarming present is there than a new book? If you read my YALC experience post you know that I stuck around an extra hour to get this signed because I'm just the best friend!

Blame by Simon Mayo
My mother was actually the enabler when it came to Blame. We went to the Join the Rebellion! Resistance and Protest in YA panel and I think she wants to read this series after hearing Simon Mayo talk about it, but used me as an excuse to pick it up. It has amazing reviews though so she'll have to fight me for it.

Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew
This actually isn't being published until the 25th but YALC had a couple books that weren't published yet for sale like Wonder Boy and Mother Tongue. This was another purchase that the Join the Rebellion! Resistance and Protest in YA panel inspired because I loved her energy and felt like if her writing mirrored that, then I'd enjoy it.

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch
My mum is a big Ben Aaronovitch fan so we went to the Fantasy London talk where he spoke and it really intrigued me. Enough to download the first book from my mums Audible account. And she picked up this, then got it signed to me. My mum is so cute. I'm super excited about it as well because I love the graphic novel format and Lee Sullivans art looks beautiful.

And a whole bunch of freebies. I have a feeling my pre-orders are about to get out of control with all these samplers.

Did you go to YALC? What did you pick up?

Saturday, 13 August 2016

My YALC Experience!

As you probably know, I spent the weekend before last in London, at the Young Adult Literature Convention. I've already put up a post about the books I took to get signed, and my haul will be up on Monday because YALC was not kind to my debit card. However, I had a lot of fun so I thought I'd tell you all about my experience and how I spent my weekend!

I hit the ground running, figuratively, on Friday. I went to the Claire Hennessy Creative Writing Workshop before rushing to her signing where she wrote me a lovely message in her latest book; Nothing Tastes as Good. Claire was so energetic, so kind and such a great way to start the weekend. I can't wait to read her book.

From there, I went to my first panel; Behind the Magic: Magical Systems in YA with Sally Green, Taran Matharu, Melinda Salisbury and VE Schwab. It was absolutely fascinating, and really had me thinking about the magic in my own book. If you're a writer, these panels will present questions to published authors that you need to also ask yourself. My story is definitely more logical now that I've forced myself to answer them. After that, I went to see Sally Green and she signed my copy of Half Bad which I read almost exactly a year ago to the day.

I took a break then to check into my hotel and rest. I can imagine that YALC is exhausting, even without health problems so thank you ibuprofen for getting me through! I did want to be back for the Fantasy London panel though. My mum is a big Ben Aaronovitch fan, and he was joined by Samantha Shannon and VE Schwab so it was a really fun panel. After that, I went to Samanthas signing and my mum, to Bens.

Before the day could end, I spent some time with Sarah from Behind on Books. We met at an event and saw each other again a couple weeks ago at another, so we're event buddies and YALC was no exception. She's lovely and writes a brilliant blog!

Lastly, I found myself at the front of the Michael Grant line for him to sign a book for my friend. Then back to the hotel, finishing an essay, and sleep.

Another early start with the Join the Rebellion! Resistance and Protest in YA panel with Alwyn Hamilton, Julie Mayhew, Simon Mayo and Kass Morgan. These panels were bad for my bank account because I ended up buying Julie Mayhew's new book and a Simon Mayo book as soon as it ended. Hearing people talk so passionately about what they've written is my kryptonite.

Then it was time for my most anticipated event; Chris Riddells talk and signing. He is not only my most owned illustrator, he responded to that post by sending me a sketch that brightened up some dark days for me. Getting to tell him that in person was the highlight of my weekend- and probably one of the high points of this year.

After that, it was back to the hotel and a nap until Nicole Bursteins signing followed by her Secret Superheroes workshop where she sparked a great idea for my novel. Also, she was cosplaying as a Lumberjane. Actual queen.

By Sunday I was wrecked so Daisy and I just walked around YALC and LFCC before getting pizza. The YALC section was much more interesting, in my opinion. You paid for books but they were discounted, and everything else was included in the ticket price; the panels, the workshops, the agents arena, signings and all the freebies. Whereas the LFCC part was a money pit. You paid for panels, for signings, for pictures, and the whole ground floor was just one big geeky market.

YALC was great. It was exhausting and I'm still run down but it was great. Now- I have a heck of a lot of reading to do...

Did you go to YALC? How did you spend the weekend?

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