October Reading Wrap Up

Friday, 31 October 2014
Hello everyone! I feel like I really got my reading mojo back this month and managed to read 7 books this month. This was definitely the month where I settled down and got back into the routine of reading regularly and enjoying it again. I didn't quite manage to get photos of all the books I read this month unfortunately. When I finish a book at uni I normally bring it home with me and leave it at home so when I go to take photos either at home or at uni I find I never have all the books I want to photograph with me. I really need to get into a routine for that! 

Ask The Passengers by A.S. King- Ask The Passengers is yet another absolutely amazing work from King. All of her works are so beautiful and poignant. This is a book about homophobia and bullying in a small town situation but also goes into a lot about self identity and becoming your own person. This got the month off to such a good start and I'm so glad I read it. 5/5 stars.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler- This was a reread for me so not too much work. Why We Broke Up is made up of letters written by Min to Ed, her ex boyfriend. She is returning a box of all the things that remind her of him and writing a letter to accompany each item. As a teen romance I feel it can be a little cringey at times and that some of the characters are trying painfully hard to be 'cool' and 'unique'. Despite that its so easy to fall completely in love with this book. There are also some beautiful illustrations in it. Also, Daniel Handler is actually Lemony Snicket so if you were a fan of The Series Of Unfortunate Events books then you should give this a read! Another 5/5 star read from me.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- Oh god I am so glad to have finished this, I've been reading it for months. I hated it. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate its value as a classic but it was just not the book for me. It bored me to death, was so long and the language just totally put me to sleep. I know this is like, everyone's favourite classic but I just didn't enjoy it at all so I gave it 1/5 stars on GoodReads.

Soppy: A Love Story by Philippa Rice - This is a graphic novel about a couple and all the little things they do together. This was a really quick read, it took me 15 minutes! I really enjoyed it but soppy is definitely a good word for this. I wouldn't really recommend it if you're single to be honest. Because it's so short I wouldn't really recommend it as a read but if you have an interest in graphic design/cartoons/art etc then I'm sure you could get a lot of use out of this book. I gave it 4/5 stars.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare- City Of Heavenly Fire is the final novel in The Mortal Instruments series. And it was a massive one. This book was huge, like 700+ pages huge so it took me quite a while to read. I feel a bit neutral on this one. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. I think I'm just really happy to have completed another series! I gave this one 3/5 stars and would definitely recommend finishing the series if you've started it.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - Another reread for me! I love going back to read books I really enjoyed as I find I appreciate them more each time I read them. I don't think this is the best book ever written and I find it a little cringey at times but I still can't help but fall in love with it each time I read it. I think this is my 3rd or 4th time reading it now. Its about two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and end up in a relationship. Its beautiful and also heart breaking. I gave it 4/5 stars. I can't bring myself to give it 5/5 stars as there are some parts of the book that are so cringey and hipstery that make me squirm!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - In this book two teenagers meet on the school bus and build an unlikely friendship/relationship. Eleanor is the new kid, she's fat, dresses weird and has unruly red hair. Park is sort of in with the 'in crowd' but feels like being half Korean in a white neighbourhood sets him apart from everyone else. They're an unlikely couple but end up coming together to give this absolutely beautiful story. Eleanor has a really bad home life so this book can be really heartbreaking at times. I would really recommend this to everyone as its such an addictive read, very hard to put down! 5/5 stars.

What did you read this month? And if you've read any of these do you agree with what I had to say?

 Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Spooky Reads

Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Halloween is fast approaching so I thought I'd give you some recommendations of scary books to help you get in the mood. I think Halloween reading is great because this is my favourite time of year to read. Getting all snuggled up and cosy when its cold outside and reading is such a great feeling. I've tried to give a wide range of books here from ones that are proper horrors to some that are jut a little bit creepy. I love spooky books!

More Than This by Patrick Ness - Oh my god, there is a character in this that made me nearly pee myself. Seriously freaked me out so much. This book is about a boy who is dying and wakes up in the house he grew up in completely alone. Or so he thinks. I'm not going to say too much about it because I think its one of those books that you should read without knowing too much about. Trust me its the best book I've read this year, read it!

Panic by Lauren Oliver*- This is another really scary one. Its not really paranormal its more psychologically scary because you know this could happen in real life. Its about a town in America where the seniors in high school all compete in a game called Panic to win lots of money, This book follows two of the seniors, Heather and Dodge. It had a lot of suspense so this is like the jumpy movie equivalent of a book. Read my full review here

The Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris - I'm sure that you've probably heard of this because the movie is really famous. But its about a serial killer and cannical, Hannibal Lecter. This is the middle in the series but its the only one I've read and I think you can read it ok without reading the others. I don't think this is a very scary book but the movie is quite terrifying so you can read the book and then watch the movie.

The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - This is a really interesting one. Mara Dyer was in an accident that killed all of her friends, she has no memory of it. Her parents move the family across the country to try and help her heal but she starts seeing her dead friends everywhere. The thing about this book is that you can't trust the narrator so whenever anything weird is happening you have to stop and ask yourself 'is this really happening?'.

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake - This is about a young ghost hunter who travels around the US putting ghosts to rest. He decides to take on a really famous ghost. Anna. Anna dressed in blood. And he gets more than he was bargaining on. This isn't very scary but it can get a bit gory at times.

I hope you have a wonderful Halloween! What are your favourite spooky books?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell


5 Things I Love About Edinburgh

Saturday, 25 October 2014
Hello everyone! Its been nearly two months since I moved to Edinburgh. Scary stuff! On Wednesday I went on a wee walk around town with my camera to take some photos of my beautiful city. It really made me appreciate how much I love living here and how lucky I am. It inspired me to blog about why I love Edinburgh in case any of my readers are considering visiting and need a little extra inspiration!

It has such a rich history. My hometown was built in the 60s so being able to walk around Edinburgh and see buildings that have been around for hundreds of years is a little surreal. I love walking around on Edinburgh's old cobbled streets and crooked little lanes and knowing that everything has a story.

The food and drink scene. I recently learned from the folk over at Zomato that Edinburgh's restaurants are 80% independently owned and 20% chains. You could eat at a new place every night and not run out for weeks. So many places to try and so many difference cuisines. I love having all of this on my doorstop. And some of the independent restaurants are wonderfully cheap compared to some of the bigger chains. You don't have to have a bottomless wallet to enjoy some good food in this town.

The buses. You can get a bus anywhere in Edinburgh for £1.50 or a student bus pass for £10 a week. So for £10 a week I can get as many buses as I want. My bus pass has definitely became of my most treasured possessions since moving here and it makes it so much easier to get around the city.  And the buses are so frequent! 

It looks beautiful in the winter. The leaves are starting to change and fall. And by the end of November the Christmas markets and big wheel will be up and running. I can't wait! If you've ever been to Edinburgh then you'll know what I mean when I say that it is simply wonderful. I can't wait to get a big nutella crepe at the market and go ice skating!

Our student union looks like Hogwarts. Need I say more?

What is your favourite thing about where you live?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Book Rainbow: Orange

Thursday, 23 October 2014
Hello everyone! Today I've got another book in my Book Rainbow series and surprise surprise, orange comes after read. I thought that I had a lot more orange books than I actually do and I really struggled to find 6 books to show you! I think orange is a colour that really suits me clothing wise so its a colour that I'm attracted to in book covers. I really want to read 10 Billion by Stephen Emmot because it has a solid, neon orange cover!

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner - This is the second book in The Maze Runner trilogy. I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first one but I still think its worth a read as it answers a lot of questions. These books all look very similar just with different neon colours, they look amazing together on my bookshelf.

Back To Life and The Facts Of Life by Joanna Nadin - Expect to see a lot of the Rachel Riley books in this series, I have them all! This is a series that I started when I was 11 and can't bring myself to donate to charity. These books are written in the form of a diary and are such funny, easy reads. I think they're a little younger than YA so I wouldn't really recommend them but they would make great presents for 10-13 year olds! 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Oh my god, I love this book. It has a really cheesy name and some really cheesy romance but its impossible not to fall in love with a Stephanie Perkins novel. I especially love it as the male love interest in this is a tall, brown haired mechanical engineering student and my boyfriend is a tall, brown haired mechanical engineering student. Lets say I have a type.

The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket - If you haven't read the Series Of Unfortunate Events books then you're seriously missing out. Not only is the writing style beautiful but the books themselves are really well designed. I love the colour schemes and the illustrations. The last few books are a little confusing admittedly but still worth a read.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness - This is the final book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and my my, what an amazing conclusion. Its a really beautiful series that explores some really deep ideas for a young adult series. I'm even more in love with Patrick Ness after seeing him speak at the Edinburgh Book Festival as well. Seriously, check out this series!

What are your favourite books with orange covers?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

My Venture Photography Experience

Sunday, 19 October 2014
Hello everyone. Today I'm going to be talking about Venture Photography. Venture Photography are an award winning photography company who are based in the UK, the USA and Hong Kong. I was invited along to their Edinburgh studio to try out the family photography experience that they offer in exchange for a review. My mum always goes on about how she really wants professional photos of me and my sister so this was a really nice opportunity.

We were told that we should bring along some props that show off our hobbies. My family and I decided not to bring anything with us however as we were travelling to Edinburgh via train and it was a bit bulky and awkward to bring everything along with us. There are some really great examples of photos taken with props on their website however. I still liked the way our photos turned out just plain anyway! But when we arrived we were really impressed. We were given some drinks and told to look through a book of example photos and point out any we really liked. That way the photographer, Chris, would know more about what we were looking to get from the shoot. 

The shoot itself was really fun. Whilst it does take a little bit of getting used to, it soon becomes a total laugh with your family. Me and my sister especially had a blast taking photos where we were giving each other piggy backs, tickling each other and laughing etc. The shoot lasted for an hour and we definitely had enough time to try out loads of different poses, lightings and outfits.

When we left the studio we were looking around all the pictures on the wall and thinking about the shoot. Imagining what photos would be the best and what we'd get printed and where in the house we'd put it. And then the joy of the Venture Photography experience stopped from us as we were given a price list. I'm just going to put a little disclaimer in here and say that if I had been able to see a price list on Venture Photography's website then I wouldn't have accepted the offer to review their services. The printed photos are all 100s of £s and definitely no where near my price range, or the price range of the people I know. I know that money buys quality and there's no arguing that the finished propducts are beautiful, I just don't think they're worth that much money. Even to get all of the photos from your shoot on an app its £600. You see my point?

So after the photoshoot you have to come back another day for a viewing experience. For this they show you into a room and you sit on some comfy sofas to view them. They dim the lights and play over a slideshow of all the final images. Its kind of like being at the cinema! All of the final images were absolutely beautiful and it was a real struggle to narrow it down to one favourite to have printed but this is the one that I finally chose. Then you order your finished print and it gets ordered into the Venture Studio where you then have to go and pick it up. I personally would have preferred to have it sent directly to me as by this point you've made three trips down to the studio which is quite time consuming. The final print that we got is really lovely, I don't think the photos I've taken of it really do it justice but trust me, its beautiful in person. 

At the end of the day I really enjoyed our photoshoot at Venture Photography and I love our final image. But I can't say that I really recommend it. I just cannot justify the price of it. I don't think I know anyone that has that much money to spare for a photo, maybe its an 'how the other half live' scenario. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful to have been provided with this experience in exchange for review but I wouldn't return as a paying customer, I just couldn't afford to. And even though the photo is beautiful and I'll treasure it forever, I also have a ton of old polaroid photos that aren't amazing quality but I treasure them too.

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell


Book Rainbow: Red

Friday, 17 October 2014
Hello everyone! Welcome to a new series that I'm starting on my blog called the Book Rainbow. For these posts I'm going to be sharing some books that all have the same colour of cover. This is just something for a little bit of fun and it gives me the chance to show off some of my book collection! A lot of people organise their books by colour which I think looks absolutely amazing on a bookshelf. But I'm way too fussy to do that, my books need to be arranged alphabetically by authors last name or I freak out. So these blog posts will give me the chance to have a little book rainbow without messing up my collection! Also, I was recently talking with some friends who were saying that they really associate subjects(as in school subjects) with colours. Whilst I don't think I really do that I do think I do it with books! It's an interesting concept.

The Knife Of Letting Go by Patrick Ness - This is the first book in one of my favourite series so you guys should really check it out if you haven't already. The covers in the trilogy all match in style but have different colours, this is red and the others are blue and yellow. The spine of the book is also completely red. I love the design of these covers. They kind of remind me of a quirky, modern stained glass.

Half Bad by Sally Green - I'm going to start this one by saying that it took me way too long to realise that the red on the cover makes a face. In fact I didn't realise it by myself, someone one had to show me. Yup. The cover for this book is really cool as when you flip it over it's the exact same image but on a white background instead. I love reversible book covers. I also read this book in 1 day if that's not enough motivation to want to read this!

Shovel Ready by Alex Sternbergh - This is a book about a hitman in a post apocalyptic New York. Red seems like a very fitting colour! I was sent this book for review during the summer and I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I was expecting to. If you're looking for a book that's really fast paced and hard to put down then you should really pick this up.

The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger - This is the marmite of books, you either love it or you hate it. I personally love it. The character is a bit of a jack ass so it depends on the mood you're in when you're reading the book. If I read this when I'm really happy then I hate Holden, he's stuck up and bratty. If I read this when I'm feeling a bit down then I find myself really sympathising with him! Personally, I love that this book can spark some amazing debates! I've grown to love this cover over the years but I still think I prefer the purple one with the gold writing.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman - This book is set in a world where teenagers are 'unwound' for their organs so that everyone who needs one donated can get what they need. It's a really brutal concept so I think that a red cover is somewhat fitting! I really enjoyed this book but hated the sequel so I don't think I'll be carrying on with series unfortunately!

Girl Of Nightmares by Kendare Blake - This is one spooky book, it talks about ghosts and even includes a cheeky wee trip to hell. So the cover? Perfect! Despite my love for the cover I'm unsure about how I feel about this book on the whole. I loved the first book but a lot of aspects of this one annoyed me. A lot of it is set in Scotland too, or should I say inaccurately set in Scotland.

What are your favourite books with red covers?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell


Dog Owner Problems

Wednesday, 15 October 2014
  • Finding at least one dog biscuit in the pocket of every outside jacket you own.
  • When your dog falls asleep on you but you need to move and they look so comfy.
  • When you're on a walk and your dog decides its going to tangle its lead around a ton of lamposts and trees.
  • When you spend money on a bed for your dog and he still sleeps on the floor.
  • You find dog hair everywhere. 
  • When you accidentally say walk in front of your dog and they hit the roof.
  • Other dog owners that judge you so hard when your dog misbehaves.
  • Hoovering at least once a day because SO, MUCH, HAIR.
  • When your dog destroys their new toy in under a minute.
  • Dog breath.
  • If the dog gets up at 5am, you get up at 5am.
  • When you're out on walk and you see a cat/rabbit/deer and you have to start praying that your dog doesn't spot it too.
  • When your dog wants to play fetch but won't let you take the ball off them.
  • Walkies in the rain.
  • If you have a male dog and then want to hump everything.
  • When it's 2am and your dog is taking up more space on your bed than you are and it leaves you questioning what you're doing with your life.
  • There are never enough dog poo bins.
  • When your dog is all clean and then goes and rolls in some mud.
  • Playing tug-of-war with a puppy is fun. Playing Tug-of-war with a fully grown dog is a test of strength and stamina.
  • Brushing your dog when your dog really doesn't want to be brushed.
But despite all that, you couldn't live without them.

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Recent Author Discoveries

Saturday, 11 October 2014
Hello everyone! Today's post is all about some authors that I've discovered recently. These are all authors that I've read books by for the first time during 2014. I'd heard amazing things about all of these authors before reading their books and I totally understood the hype whilst reading their books. These were all books that I flew through and really enjoyed. 

A. S. King - King is an award winning writer and it's easy to see why. I read one of her most popular books, Everybody Sees The Ants, in one night because I just couldn't put it down. She writes about hard issues that effect teenagers. She doesn't sugar coat anything and it's just refreshing and honest. The plot of Everybody Sees The Ants was so developed and all the little details were so significant, it was amazing seeing everything come together. I'm currently reading Ask The Passengers and loving it, she's became one of my favourite authors. 

James Dashner - His books have became so popular with the recent release of The Maze Runner movie and I think it's pretty well deserved. These aren't the most believable books and they are a bit cheesy at times but they create a world which you can just totally escape into. I feel like I'm really in the maze when reading the books which is something so rare now. I have read all the books in the trilogy apart from the prequel and when I've finished that I'll do a full series review. I have a second copy of The Maze Runner so I might be doing a cheeky little giveaway too. Would you guys be interested in that?

Laurie Halse Anderson - I've only read two of her books but I'm already willing to say that Laurie Halse Anderson has became one of my favourite authors of all time. She's written so many amazing books and won a load of awards too. Like A. S. King she writes about really important issues in a real and shocking manner which I think is really important. Whilst some aspects of her books aren't always 'enjoyable' they're certainly well written and thought provoking, I think everyone should read them.

What authors have you discovered this year?

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Superdrug Mango Copper Burst Hair Dye

Thursday, 9 October 2014
Hello everyone! If you follow me on Instagram then you might have noticed that I've dyed my hair. I done this before I moved out for uni and I'm really pleased with the results. I went for the Super Drug Colour Vibrance hair dye in Mango Copper Burst. I was really attracted to this as its cruelty free. If you've ever tried to look for a cruelty free hair dye then you'll understand how difficult it is to find one! I normally dye my hair with a very bright orange so that it gives it some nice red tones that are really visible in the light. I don't want to prelighten my hair because it's a lot of work. That being said, this is definitely the strongest dye I've used so far and I was really impressed.

As a hair dye it was really easy to use and apply. They also give you two little bottles of conditioner to use aftewards. I did find that for maybe a week after I dyed my hair it would mark my towels a little bit so that's something to keep in mind. It develops in half an hour and was easy enough to wash out of my hair. It did dry my scalp out a bit and I was quite itchy for a while but I got that sorted by using a good conditioner. 

Overall at £4.49 a box I really can't argue. You can buy it online here or instore. I will definitely be using this again.

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

University Room Tour

Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Hello everyone. Saturday marked 4 weeks since I moved into my student flat so I thought that it was about time that I showed you guys around. I was totally panicking before I moved in as I didn't really know what it was going to be like. On the website the flats looked amazing but they uploaded a virtual tour after I applied and the rooms looked like prison cells! Luckily the photos were a lot more accurate and my flat is actually a lot nicer than I expected it to be. Plus the bathroom got done up over the summer and we have some really nice showers!

I got this chevroned bedding from Wilkos and I think it looks amazing on. They also have similar designs in Sainsbury's but I think Wilkos is definitely cheaper. The pillows are from Primark and I think they make it feel a bit more homey.

The blanket is one that I crocheted myself! I'm really proud of it but it took me bloody ages so I'm going to avoid making another one for the near future! I also keep my physics and maths textbooks there because they're so awkward and bulky!

My notice board is one of my favourite parts of my room. I love looking at all the photos and storing my necklaces out on display. I had my photos printed by Boots and I'm really impressed with the price and quality of the prints. Plus it was weirdly cheaper to get them delivered rather than picked up in store. The fairy lights are from Sainsbury's but I've noticed they're on sale now so if you want some really cheap ones then definitely get down there soon, they're about a quarter of the price I paid for them.

I also decorated my wardrobe with a Harry Potter poster and some more photos. Then a cute little washi tape trim. You can never add too much washi tape! I really love how this looks in the corner. Also how much of a babe is my mum in that bottom middle picture? I love it and she hates it.

And then my desk area. This is just where I keep all my commonly used make up/beauty products and pens and stuff. I have some drawers where I store some more stuff too but I'm not going to go through all that because it's a bit boring. I brought all of those books to uni with me but I've only finished one since starting! Ooops. I'm really going to try harder this month to get back into reading because I miss it a lot now that I don't really have the time. I also have no idea why I brought so many DVDs with me as I very rarely watch movies.

Also wanted to include a photo where you can see my Martin Luther King poster because I love it!

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell

Childhood Reads

Thursday, 2 October 2014
Hello everyone! I was recently having a root around in the attic at my grandparent's house and I found a load of my old books. I used to stay with my grandparents every weekend so I had quite the collection at their house! Some of these were my absolute favourites at the time and I just completely forgot about them over the year. I brought a few home with me and I hope to reread them soon. I thought I'd show you them and tell you a little bit more about them.

James And The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - If you grew up in the UK then you've probably read at least 5 Roald Dahl books. This Welshman really was one of the best children's writers of all time. James and the Giant Peach wasn't my favourite of his books but its the first one I ever read so it has a lot of nostalgia! Its about a boy who lives with his horrible aunties until one day he runs away in a giant peach with some giant bugs. You could only get away with a plot like that in a children's novel! My favourite was Matilda if everyone's wondering!

What Katy Did by Susan M Coolidge - I don't think I ever actually read this one by myself but I have some really strong memories of my gran reading this to me. She has a whole set of classics like this and I think What Katy Did was my favourite. Its about a girl called Katy who is a bit of a pest, she isn't very nice to her younger siblings and is rude to adults. Then one day she falls off a swing she wasn't supposed to go on and hurts herself and can't walk. The book is about her recovery and learning to appreciate the things she has.

The Babysitter's Club by Ann M. Martin - I've saved the best for last! I bloody loved The Babysitter's Club. My best friend in school read the books too so we were always swapping books and talking about it. I still consider Claudia to be one of my fashion idols! If you've not heard of it, a group of girls start their own little baby sitting business. These are seriously amazing books. I even had my bedroom painted navy and yellow because a character in this book has her room painted navy and yellow. Extra bloggy points if you can tell me which character  it was in the comments!

What were some of your favourite childhood books? I'd also include the Harry Potter books and the Jacqueline Wilson novels!

Twitter @honestlyrussell // Instagram  @honestlyrussell // Pinterest @honestlyrussell