February Reading Wrap Up

Friday, 27 February 2015
Hello everyone! Time for another reading wrap up! February was not the best reading month for me. In 2015 I've actually been trying to read less and stick to one book a week. I've read 3 books this month so not on target. Actually I think I will have maybe finished one by the end of the week but this post has been scheduled so I'm unsure, ohhhh. This month I tried to read loads of books that I had been sent review copies of. So sorry about all the *s! Doesn't change my opinions at all, however.

The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon* - I've already read this book in full, you can read my review here. Its not often I find a chick lit book that I really like but I found this to be a really good one. People are calling it 'the new Bridget Jones' and I have to say I agree with them. I gave this one 4/5 stars.

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski* - I read the first book in this series, The Winner's Curse, last year and it was amazing. I have to admit I feel a little let down by this one. It was quite hard to follow and it didn't have the same flare that the first one did. I gave it 3/5 stars.

Fish Out Of Water by Natalie Whipple* - I've already read this book in full, you can read by review here. This was a seriously amazing book. Like, the best I've read all year. I loved it. Not even going to say anything else, just go read it.

What have you read this month?

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Book Review: A Fish Out Of Water

Thursday, 26 February 2015
Hello everyone. Today I'm reviewing a book I read recently, I think that its one of the best books that I've read this year! A Fish Out Of Water by Natalie Whipple* is about a young Japanese-American girl. She has her summer all sorted. She works in a pet shop and has an internship set up at a famous aquarium. One day her grandmother who she has never met shows up. She's never met her grandmother because she did not agree with her parent's 'mixed' marriage and she is a big old racist. But she now has Alzheimers and there's no one else to care for her.

I really enjoyed this book because the story isn't really like anything else I've ever read in a young adult novel before. I've read a lot of books and there's nothing worse than when a book reminds you of another one. Also I used to work in an aquatic pet shop so it also made me laugh a lot. The opening scene involved her telling a customer that a tank was not big enough for a goldfish and then the customer ignoring her and then buying the tank, three goldfish and no water conditioner. THAT WAS MY LIFE FOR TWO YEARS! The main character just got me!

As it was a YA novel there was also a bit of romance. The nephew of her boss starts working in the store and its Mika's job to show him the ropes. At first she can't stand him and his bad boy attitude but after a while she starts to feel like she can see a good person coming through. Whilst romance in YA can be a bit crap the main character here is a really strong, independent girl and I really liked the way that she handled things!

Overall I really enjoyed A Fish Out Of Water. Its definitely my favourite book of the month, and maybe even of the year. I am excited to read something else by Natalie Whipple. 5/5 stars.

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A Trip To The Lakes

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Last week I went down to see my stepsister and her family in Penrith. We took a little day trip to Ullswater lake and had a nice walk about. It was a pretty cold day, you can actually see some snow in the mountains in the background! I've been here before and its also really beautiful in the summer. We went for a walk and then had lunch in a little tearoom. It was a lovely day so I just thought I'd share some photos. Have you ever been?

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Book Review: The Wrong Knickers

Monday, 23 February 2015
Hello everyone. Today I'm going to be reviewing the book that everyone is calling the new Bridget Jones. This is The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon* which is the real life story of Gordon's 20s. Its written autobiographically and is painfully honest in a way that made me laugh, cringe and also horrified me a little at times. 

This is definitely a chick flick book. Bryony Gordon dropped out of uni, started working as a journalist and was looking for love whilst partying around London. I have to admit, a lot of the time I found her to be a little bit too posh for me to connect with. Like, I kind of find it hard to empathise with someone who says they're struggling to pay bills but still eats lunch at Pret A Manger. But despite that, I still found this book to be a really fun, easy read. Even if I didn't always agree with what she was saying/doing. Overall I gave this book 4/5 stars because it felt like talking to an old friend. Perfect book to take on holiday!

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Crocheted Basket Pattern

Sunday, 22 February 2015
Hello everyone. Today I'm going to be sharing this awesome crochet pattern with you! I've always wanted to experiment with t shirt yarn and when I was making an order from Wool Warehouse I decided to throw in some Hoooked Zpagetti and try it out. T shirt yarn is basically just really long thin strips of cotton that you can work like wool. You can also make your own from old t shirts but I've always thought that sounded like a lot of work! I knew I wanted to make a basket with mine so that I could store some wool but none of the patterns I saw really stood out to me. So I decided to wing it and design my own. I am so happy with how it turned out and it used the exact amount of yarn, I have none left over!

You will need:
1200g of Hoooked Zpagetti or another t shirt yarn.
10.00mm crochet hook.

Row 1 - 6 single crochet into a magic ring, slip stitch to join (6)
Row 2 - Chain 2 and then half double crochet into the same stitch. Two half double crochets into each stitch, slip stitch to join (12)
Row 3 - 1 half double crochet, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (18)
Row 4 - 2 half double crochets, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (24)
Row 5 - 3 half double crochets, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (30)
Row 6 - 4 half double crochets, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (36)
Row 7 - 5 half double crochets, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (42)
Row 8 - 6 half double crochets, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (48)
Row 9 - 7 half double crochets, 1 increase. Repeat 6 times (54)
Rows 10 to 14 - half double crochet in every stitch (54)
Row 15 - 19 half double crochets, chain 10, skip 8 stitches. Repeat. (58)
Row 16 - Half Double crochet in every stitch (58)

Now all you need to do is cut your yarn and sew in the ends. What do you think?

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Should Bloggers Blog For Free?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

When I first started blogging, I felt so honoured whenever a PR company contacted me. If  they asked me to write a blog post for them in exchange for them sharing it on their social media? I would see this as an ok trade and go for it. I also used to enter a lot of those competitions. You know the 'write a blog post to enter our competition and you could win xxxxx' style ones? But I never won any. And those types of posts were never very successful. So what did I gain from them?

But as my blog grew and as the blogging world became a lot bigger a new thought emerged. 'Sponsored posts'. If you don't know what a sponsored post is: its when a company pays you to write about their company, or mention one of their products in a post. And these are a common thing in the blogging world. I've done a few myself but not many. I still don't know what I should really be charging for them and I don't get many offers for them either. But at the same time, I've also decided that I will not blog for free. I've tried it in the past and most of the time it gives me no benefit. The reality is if a company really thought that sharing something on their social media was good enough advertising, then why would they not just do that? I've been there done that and a company sharing a blog post I wrote about them has never made one bit of difference to my stats. In the 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' situation. I've done a lot of scratching and not had it in return. If a company send me something, then of course I'd review it without expecting anything else but I think just a post is different.

But over the last few weeks I've noticed an increased number of emails in my inbox. All asking me to write a blog post or share an infographic etc. But when I email back asking if this company is offering a paid opportunity I always get told no. That or they don't reply at all. I can see it from both sides. A lot of smaller companies don't have the budget to pay a ton of bloggers for posts. But at the same time, I think its so cheeky to ask a blogger to work for your for free. You wouldn't phone up a journalist and ask them to write an article for you for free. The media world is changing. Blogs are becoming the new magazines.

What do you think? Do you think bloggers should be paid to write posts for companies or do you think shares on social media is enough?

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Lush: In Your Dreams

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Hello everyone. Today I'm blogging about this awesome Lush gift set that one of my oldest pals got me for my birthday. I love Lush so when I saw that she'd bought me this I was so excited, even more so when I was what was in it! The In Your Dreams set contains a Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar and a Granny Takes A Dip bath ballistic. The unicorn horn is a limited edition product in their Valentines Day collection and granny takes a dip is a relatively new product in their permanent line. I've not used either of them before so I was really excited to get both!

Granny Takes A Dip - This is supposed to be inspired by hippies and give off a psychedelic vibe. I personally love the colours! It has a really unusual scent, its really spicy and stands out from any other scent I've noticed in a Lush product before.  I can't wait to use this because it smells great.

Unicorn Horn - Now hasn't this little one gained a lot of attention recently? This multicoloured unicorn shaped beauty seems to have a lot of fans. I expected this to have a really sweet scent but was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually smells of lavender. Lavender is one of my favourite soothing scents, I can't wait to use this one after a long day. If only I had a bath at uni!

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Book Review: Get Rich Blogging

Monday, 9 February 2015
Hello everyone. Today I'm going to be reviewing a book that's been making its rounds of the blogosphere lately. Get Rich Blogging by Zoe Griffin. Its written by the author of Live Like A VIP who earns a six figure salary from her blog. The book is split into two parts. The first part gives tips on setting up, managing and monetising a blog but it is not specific to any type of blog. Part two gives tips for fashion bloggers, parenting bloggers etc from experts in that field.  

I found part 1 to be very interesting. I learnt a lot from it and there were a few tips that I found absolutely amazing. And there were some tips that I just didn't feel applied to my type of blog. Like for example, she lists places where you can buy stock photos and recommends doing this. But I've always found that for beauty/fashion/lifestyle blogs its way better to take your own photos to inject some personality into your blog. Although I can't really argue with her because obviously her blog is very successfull! And some of them are a bit out dated. But on the whole I found this to be an interesting read and I certainly enjoyed it. You could find all of these tips by hunting through various Pinterest boards but it is handy to have them all in one place I suppose.

Part 2 wasn't as great if you ask me. I decided that I would read all of the sections as I thought that every little would help. Except they were set out in exactly the same way and all of the bloggers were asked the same questions. This made it very samey and in my eyes, unhelpful. Overall I thought the book was good but the tips weren't anything new. You can find them all for free if you search hard enough. That being said, it was nice to have them all in one spot.

What do you think? Would you ever read a book like this?

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Things I Wish I'd Known In High School

Friday, 6 February 2015
I didn't hate high school. I had some pretty good friends and I got good grades. I was never seriously bullied, I had never failed a test and I never had days where I dreaded going into school. But I don't think I realised until after I'd left, that I was never as happy at high school as I am at university. The realisation has hit me that I am definitely one of those people who peaks after high school. During my first semester I very rarely saw anyone from high school apart from my friends who I had actively kept in contact with and arranged to meet. This semester I've gotten a part time job in my home town so have been taking the 30 minute train home at the weekends to work there. This means that I see people a lot more often. I don't really mean my friends, more people that I went to school with and know but don't really speak to that often. And to be honest? Seeing these people again makes me feel uncomfortable. I wasn't the most confident person in high school, I was quite socially awkward and generally kept myself to myself. I wouldn't say people loved be or hated me, just didn't really know me. And I feel like whenever people see me now they still think of me as the person who I was in high school. Although I now feel like a completely different person. But just in that split moment, I let my insecurities get the best of me and I become high school Hayley again and I don't want to be her. 

I wouldn't go back and do high school all over again if you paid me. I feel like I've moved on a lot since then. But there are some things that I wish I'd known. Maybe I'd have had a more positive time. Like I said, I didn't dislike it. But I wasn't the happiest person ever.

Talking to people isn't that hard - In high school I felt really uncomfortable speaking to people that I didn't know and so a lot of the time I would never start conversations. Since starting university I've realised that it isn't as hard as I thought. I even surprise myself sometimes.

You shouldn't dislike someone unless they've given you a reason to - When I was a lot younger if one of my friends disliked someone, I would dislike them too. I think high school can be really clique-y and a lot of the time all of the bickering is totally unnecessary. I should have been more open and more inclusive of everyone, rather than writing people off without having spoken to them.

Your teachers are pretty awesome people and you should value that - I didn't really realise until I was in my last few years of school just how great my teachers were. If you'd told 11 year old me on her first day of high school that she'd cry on her last day because she would miss a lot of them I wouldn't have believed you. But I did! 

You are never going to have this much free time again - What did I do with my free time before I had a part time job and had so much studying to do? I am so jealous of my 12 year old time wasting self.

Grades do matter - In my last year I got 4 unconditional offers for uni and I'd be lying if this didn't affect my work ethic for the rest of the year. I didn't do badly but I know that if I'd worked just that little bit harder my Bs would be As. I applied for a chemistry degree but I always had an interest in chemical physics. I tried to transfer to chemical physics in my first week at uni and got told 'if you have to work for a B in advanced higher maths, you won't survive in chemical physics'. Ouch. Maybe if I'd worked a little bit harder I'd be doing a completely different degree.

In a few years time, no one will remember - No one will remember that embarrassing thing that you done 4 years on. Laugh it off.

What would you tell your high school self?

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January Reading Wrap Up 2015

Monday, 2 February 2015

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King - I've already reviewed this book on my blog and you can read that review here. A.S. King is one of my favourite authors and this did not disappoint. This is about a girl who has fallen out with her childhood best friend. He later dies under suspicious circumstances and she knows enough to clear his name. But does she want to? I gave this 4/5 stars.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart - I've already reviewed this book on my blog and you can read that review here. I was excited to read this after loving We Were Liars but it was lacking a little something. Its a book about a secret society set at a posh boarding school and a lot of the characters were just too snobby for me to connect with. I still enjoyed it and gave it 3/5 stars but I'm in no rush to read it again!

Get Rich Blogging by Zoe Griffin - As soon as I saw this book I knew that it was something I wanted to read! It contains a lot of great tips for starting and maintaining a lot. I agreed with a lot of it, disagreed with some of it and thought some of it was outdated. That being said, it was still interesting and I'll be writing a full review soon! I gave it 4/5 stars.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness/Siobhan Dowd - The idea behind this book comes from Siobhan Dowd, a YA author, who unfortunately passed away from cancer before she was able to complete it. Patrick Ness was asked to finish it in her memory and it has let to an absolutely beautiful read. After seeing Patrick Ness at the Edinburgh Book Festival last summer and hearing him talk about this, I was really excited to read it. Its about a young boy whose mother has terminal cancer. A 'monster' comes to visit him whilst his mother is ill and its about how the monster has been 'called' to help him. This was such a sad book! I cried whilst reading it on the train! And it contains some amazing illustrations. 5/5 stars I seriously recommend.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - This is a book about a girl who has a lethal touch. She is being kept as a weapon by the government and trying to get free. This book is very well written but it is quiet dark and I don't think I was really in the right mind set for it. I gave it 3/5 stars but maybe if I read it again I would enjoy it more.

Have you read any of these books before? What did you think of them?

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