Book review: Wool by Hugh Howey

I studied English at university and this is where my passion
for dystopian fiction really ignited. I was chatting to my favourite tutor  in an office hour about an essay question for
a module on James Joyce and mentioned my love for Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and she encouraged
me to pursue my interest and write about it as a dissertation topic. Now
whenever I research new books to read, I always search for books in this genre
first. My boyfriend thinks it is weird and depressing, but clearly there is a
growing interest in dystopian literature shown by the huge success of novels
such as  The Hunger Games, Divergent and
The Maze Runner. So if you like these
books, you should definitely keep reading to find out more about Hugh Howey’s Wool.
This novel was originally a short story but the readers
loved it so much that Howey released four more parts to complete book one of the Silo trilogy. You can now buy an omnibus version of the book to save
yourself some money – or if you are feeling extra keen (like me!) you can also
buy the whole trilogy.
The story is set in the future in a world that has been
largely destroyed by a disaster and it focuses on the survivors who live deep
underground in a huge multi-storey silo that houses everything from farms to
hospitals. A view of the outside can only been seen from the very top level,
displayed on a huge screen that is linked with cameras on the outside. The
world outside is desolate and bleak and talk of going outside is forbidden,
punished by exile into the barren landscape and a certain death that lies
there. However there are a few in the silo that dare to dream and dare to push
the boundaries to find out more about what really happened years ago and what
lies beyond the hills.
After reading a synopsis on Goodreads I somehow got the
impression this book was going to be aimed at teens with a fairly simple plot
that would be predictable but an enjoyable and quick read. I’m not sure where I
got this idea from because in reality, Wool
is complex, but not overcomplicated
and I found it was something I could really
get my teeth into
. There was so much to learn about the way the characters live
I was hungry for more and more (so glad I bought the trilogy collection now!).
While it does focus on adult characters, it is suitable for teen readers too,
but be warned it isn’t a mushy Twilight style love story which unfortunately I
think The Hunger Games and Divergent etc focuses on a little too
much (just my opinion…!).
I loved Wool because
the post-apocalyptic scenario was fascinating and the fact that the residents
of the silo know little or nothing of their legacy just screams that there is a
lot more to discover.
The air of mystery was captivating and kept me turning
the pages to claw in more and more of this new world.
The book is quite a long one and at around 500 pages it may
be a stretch too far for some who prefer quicker and lighter reads. It has been
described by others as a slow burner, but in my opinion this made it all the
more interesting and gave a real opportunity for Howey to convey life in the
silo and develop his characters.
The characters in Wool
are fascinating
and due to the storytelling, I felt part of their world and
connected well with them. There is a perfect balance of goodies and baddies to
keep the story ticking along at an exciting pace to find out what they do next.
 It is told from different perspectives
which really helped to explain how different roles fit into the matrix of the
silo as well as giving an insight into their state of mind which is a huge
developing theme across the trilogy.
Having fallen in love with Wool and the world of the silo I quickly moved on to the next book
in the series Shift which I am now
coming to the end of and I have to say, I think I am obsessed with this trilogy,
so I highly recommend it if you are looking for your next big read.

What are you reading at the moment? Can you recommend any good
dystopian novels?

Why you should pack your bags and hop on a plane to Berlin

I’ve been pretty absent from my blog and twitter since December as it has been so busy at work recently. Everything is a bit up and down right now so we have all been pretty snowed under. Blogging is like a second job, so after a hard day’s work I wasn’t really feeling much like writing anything. So a couple of weeks ago in an act of spontaneity, Ben and I booked last minute flights to Berlin for four days of culture, good food and a fantastic chance to get away from our every day stresses and immerse ourselves in something new.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Berlin, but I have to say I really loved it. The city is steeped in history and architecture so there is so much to see across the city. We spent a day doing all the obligatory touristy sightseeing, which included the Brandenburg Gate, The Reichstag Building, Checkpoint Charlie and the The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. 

I was really keen to visit The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, but Ben wasn’t as fussed because we had passed it on a bus on the way to the train station one day. I’m really glad that I convinced him to go back and have a wonder around the memorial because it was truly breathtaking. The concrete columns of varying length create an uncomfortable and disorientating environment. As we were wandering around, we noticed it was quite maze-like and when the blocks towered above you it felt very oppressive. I’m really glad we went because I think it is so important to remember what happened all those years ago.

On our second day we walked over to Postdamer Platz which is packed full of cultural buildings including art galleries and libraries. Our destination however was the Berliner Philharmoniker. I read a tip online before we went saying that every Tuesday at 1pm they open the doors to the public for a free recital in the huge foyer of the building. It was such an incredible atmosphere with people sitting where ever they could find a spot. We were treated to a duet from a pianist and a cellist and they were so talented. Ben studied music when we were at university, so he was completely in his element! It was one of the nicest things we got to do on our trip, so if you are ever in Berlin on a Tuesday, I really recommend you go along.

The food in Berlin was so good, we ate delicious (but naughty!) food every day. One of our must-try foods was currywurst, it is sausage sliced up, served with a tomato based curry sauce, chips and if you are lucky, some special curry mayo. We picked up ours for the very reasonable price of €3,50 at Hackescher Markt and it was amazing. I honestly think they need to open up some currywurst shops near bars and nightclubs in the UK because we think it makes the ideal post-drinks sober up snack!

We also took a trip to the famous Burgermeister, a tiny little burger joint built in a converted public toilet (no, really!). Oh my god. The burgers were fab, seriously one of the nicest I’d ever had so it is definitely worth a trip to Berlin just for one of those bad boys!

One of my friends from work went to Berlin a couple of years ago and she told me that we HAD to visit Fassbender & Rausch, a famous chocolate shop with a cafe just above. We ordered hot chocolates (mine chocolate orange flavoured and Ben’s mint chocolate) and honestly it was the nicest hot chocolate we have ever had and I’m quite gutted now because I don’t think anything over here will ever match up to the chocolately deliciousness!

On our last day, we went to a lovely restaurant recommended by Ben’s dad. We meant to pop in just for a coffee, but ended up ordering prosecco and dessert, key lime tart with blueberry ice cream. It was also so tasty and well presented and the atmosphere was lovely, so it was the perfect end to our trip.

Another thing on my must-do list was a walk along the East Side Gallery, a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall that has been left to stand as a symbol of freedom. The wall has been painted over by famous artists and is so iconic. I loved seeing the different pieces, but Ben wasn’t so impressed because there was a lot of graffiti over the artwork which was a bit of a shame. The wall is also situated in the East Side of Berlin which was Soviet and you can really tell the difference between the East and the West.

We had such a lovely break in Berlin, and it was really nice to just get away from the stresses of work and experience a whole new city. We have both said that we would definitely go back, but we’d want to go with some friends so we could better take advantage of the nightlife scene and maybe hit some of the famous clubs! If you are looking for a spontaneous getaway, then I really recommend Berlin. 

Have you ever been to Berlin? Where are you next jetting off on holiday?

What to get your mum for Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner now, so if you have left it to the last minute to buy your mum a special something, then here are a few ideas to get you going!

1. Pink Grapefruit Large Yankee Candle Jar from Yankee Candle, £19.99

I treated myself to a medium sized jar of this flavour candle in January, and I have to say it is absolutely delicious smelling! I really love the fruity scents and I think that they are a good choice for mums as it isn’t too sickly and sweet. My mum hates floral scented things, especially lavender, so a fruity smelling candle would be right up her street. With so many different flavours on offer, it would be easy to find one that is suited to your mum’s taste too.

2. Blackberry Cake Stand from Marks and Spencer, £29.50

The Great British Bake Off has been back recently with special celebrity episodes for Comic Relief and every time the show is on our screens it seems that everyone is inspired to get baking. This cake stand is really pretty and if your mum doesn’t yet own one, perhaps now is the perfect time! You could treat her even more this Mother’s Day by getting your bake on and making an array of cute cupcakes to display on it.

3. Carrie Statement Pearl Earrings from Accessorize, £17

Mums love a bit of jewellery, and the best part is these Accessorize beauties wont break the bank. I love the pearl accents as they look really classy for statement earrings. These would be perfect for your mum to pair with pastels this spring, but would also look great with an LBD.

4. Dark Willow Picnic Hamper from John Lewis, £85

This picnic basket is absolutely divine! I honestly think this is a fantastic gift to buy for your mum if she doesn’t have one already. The Dark Willow Picnic Hamper caters for four people which is ideal for a little family jaunt to a park or the beach (obvs when the weather is better!) Plus there is even room for wine and you get a corkscrew included too – perfect!

5. Shea Butter Hand Cream from L’Occitane, £19

All woman love hand cream and in my opinion, L’Occitane make some cracking ones.Shea butter is one of my favourite body care ingredients as it treats all sorts of skin issues including dry, cracked and sore skin – so it is the perfect treat for mum’s hands.

6. Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum from Feel Unique, £35.10

If in doubt, perfume is always a good choice. I love this Jimmy Choo scent, and it is also one of my mum’s top picks. It smells amazing with a fruity and feminine base and woody depths, it is utterly lovely and I highly recommend it.

I hope this gives you a little bit of inspiration for your Mother’s Day shopping. I’ve got my present, just need to sort the card out now!

What gift would your mum prefer? What gift ideas do you have for mums?

Holidays are coming…

Christmas wishlist
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This weekend the TV has been awash with a flurry of Christmas adverts ranging from the famous Coca Cola advert to the new John Lewis advert featuring Monty and Mabel (if you haven’t seen it yet get on it now!) so I have been getting very excited for Christmas. This will be our first Christmas in the flat, so we are starting to think about how we are going to transform it into a winter wonderland! So for anyone else who is thinking about buying some lovely items ready to decorate for Christmas here are a few of my favourite Christmas decorations that are on my wishlist.

1. Spiced Orange Large Yankee Candle Jar from Yankee Candle, £19.99 
One of the best things about Christmas is the lovely smells that come with it! We love to burn Yankee Candles and this is one of our favourites. It smells so orangey and is like Christmas in a jar!
2. 3D Resin Stag from Marks and Spencer, £12
I have definitely inherited a stag/deer obsession when it comes to Christmas decorations from my mum who has a few different ones she displays every Christmas. This little gold stag is very cute and would be perfect on a mantelpiece or sideboard if you have a gold colour scheme. 
This candle is absolutely gorgeous, it looks so pretty that I would be reluctant to burn it! The scent of the candle is beautiful and reminds me of mulled wine.
Whilst I am not really a fan of tinsel (sorry!) I adore baubles! I could honestly wander the Christmas displays for hours looking at all the different baubles on offer – so pretty! I like the damask pattern on this bauble and it is so cheap!
5. Christmas Past Berry Wreath from John Lewis, £35
This wreath is absolutely gorgeous! The red is so vibrant and bold I much prefer it to the traditional green holly or fir wreaths. It’s just a same that we aren’t allowed to hang this on our flat door…
6. Linea Gold Textured Bauble from House of Fraser, £5.60
This bauble is just a little bit special! I love the textured effect and I think it would reflect twinkly Christmas lights beautifully. This is probably my favourite item on this wish list, and the best thing is, it is currently in the sale!
What is on your Christmas decor wishlist? What colour scheme are you going for this year?

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blogger Award

Woohoo! I have been nominated by the lovely Miranda
from Miranda Loves for the One Lovely Blog Award. Miranda has a gorgeous
blog layout and she posts regularly with wishlists, hauls and reviews, so you
should all check her blog out. I love these tags as it is quite a nice way to
share a little bit more about my self for those readers who are interested. But
it is actually really hard to think up facts about yourself!

So, here are the rules for the award:
 1) You must display the award logo at the
top of the post!
2) You must thank the person who nominated you and leave a link to their blog
in your post
3) You must add this set of rules to your post so that your nominees will know
what to do
4) You must add 7 facts about yourself into the post
5) You must nominate 15 other blogs and leave links to each of them in your
6) You must let the people who you have nominated know that they’ve been
7) You must follow back the person who nominated you on GFC and Bloglovin

Seven Facts about myself:

  1. As a child I believed that the hazard lights button
    in the car was a turbo button.
  2. I’m pretty terrible at looking after houseplants. We
    have been in the flat for a month and I have killed all the herbs in the window
    box and the pot plant my mum bought us has severely wilted… oops!
  3. I once met Jonathan Ross on holiday in Florida and
    he was wearing tartan trousers…
  4. I only own one blusher which I think in the beauty
    blogging world is pretty much a sin…don’t worry though I plan to invest in a
    couple more!
  5. I love dogs and we are so desperate to get a puppy
    but we work long hours so it isn’t the right time for us yet – boo!
  6. I studied English at university so I adore reading.
    I always carry my kindle in my handbag because you never know when you will
    have five minutes to quickly read a few pages.
  7. I do my own Shellac gel mani and pedis! My mum
    bought me the kit for my birthday last year and I taught myself how to properly apply them. 

Blogs I’m nominating
I have recently followed all of the bloggers above
after enjoying reading their blogs so I really recommend that you check them
bloggers would you nominate?

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes review

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes front cover

Sali Hughes is one of my favourite beauty writers, so when I heard that she was writing Pretty Honest, I was very excited. On the day of release I traipsed around town looking in book shops for a copy to no avail! I eventually managed to track down a copy in a small WHSmith store. It was the last copy left and it has a scuff on the mirror handle on the front cover, some black marks on the edges and some indentations to the pages. But it doesn’t matter because I got the last one!

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes Brows

I know they say you should never judge a book by its cover, but the cover of Pretty Honest is beautifully simple. This is the type of book that was made to be displayed proudly on a coffee table. At the beginning of every chapter you will find a related photograph and quote which I have absolutely loved – The Jack Black quote above is probably my favourite!

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes Basic Kit

The book is perfect for any woman, no matter what stage in life you are, you will find a whole host of topics including advice about acne, botox, wedding makeup and post-baby beauty. While not every chapter is relevant to me right now, this is something that I will refer to later in life.

Whenever Sali is discussing a type of product, she makes recommendations of a range of brands who offer wonderful products for every skin type and need. She also includes a mixture of high end and budget brands so the advice really caters for everyone.

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes Beauty Icons

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it has been in my handbag every day so that I can have a quick read whilst on the bus or during my lunch hour. Several of my colleagues at work have asked me about the book as my nose was buried in it every lunchtime for a week and now they are buying copies too.

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes Beauty Resources

Whether you are brand new to skincare and makeup, or you are a pro beauty blogger, I think there is a lot to learn from this book. I have discovered exactly what I need for my skin type and colouring and what products I can chuck in the bin or save my money on – toner and eye cream, I’m looking at you! This is a wonderful and informative read and best of all because of Sali’s reputation as a beauty writer, I know that her advice is reliable and honest (hence the title!), so I cannot recommend this enough. You can get your copy from WHSmith or Waterstones for £22.

An Introduction

Hi, I’m Laura and I am a 22 year old recent graduate from the UK. I am a self-confessed cosmetic-aholic and you could leave me for hours in Boots and I would be content testing and sniffing everything.

I have recently been working for a Beauty PR agency in London and I have really developed a taste for blogging, so I thought I would give having my own blog a go.

I will be mainly reviewing beauty products, showing my hauls and occasionally giving the odd DIY tutorial – I like to think I am a bit creative!

So I hope you enjoy my blog, and please do bear with me while I get everything up and running!
You can follow me on twitter @_musthavegirl and on instagram @_musthavegirl