Sunday, 29 June 2014

June Favourites

As this month is coming to an end and there have been a few things that I have really loved this month, I thought I would do a June favourites post. (I have come up with six catergories and at least one thing for each category.)


Obviously there is a book category and my favourite for this month would have to be Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This books was amazing, I gave it about 4 and a half stars I think because it has a really unique premise (about a girl who leaves behind 7 tapes after committing suicide, each holding a reason why she did what she did) and was very thought-provoking and emotional. I have actually done a full review of this book which you can find here if you are interested in knowing more.

I have two films that I have really loved this month. The first, of course, is The Fault in our Stars which came out this month and I want to an early fan screening of it as I simply couldn't wait. It was beautiful, faithful to the book and extremely sob-worthy. I have a rather long review for the film on my blog as well which you can find here.
This month I also bought Chicago on DVD for really cheap as I've wanted to watch it for a really
long time. It is a wonderful and interesting musical about murder, jazz and rivals. The songs, choreography, story line and production of this musical was fantastic and I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves both musicals and scandal.
There hasn't been much music wise this month that has really taken to me, but I will say that I love The Fault in our Stars soundtrack. It has some really brilliant songs on it and I've been listening to the playlist on youtube non-stop. My favourites are two of the songs by Birdy (Not about angels and Tee-shirt), All I Want by Kodaline and Long Way Down by Tom Odell. They are all lovely songs that are really relaxing and make me think of the story.

I recently bought this light blue denim pinafore dress with a faded blue flower print in the TopShop sale. I absolutely love it - it's so cute and will be perfect for summer. It looks great with just a baggy plain white long sleeved top underneath and I think I will get a lot of use out of it.

This month I decided to try out a new foundation because I wanted one with better coverage than the BB cream I'd been using previously but still felt light on the skin. I picked up the Bourjois healthy mix serum and it is exactly what I was looking for. Light enough on the skin to look natural and not be all sticky in the summer, enough coverage to hide my blemishes and redness, long-lasting (though maybe not the 16hrs that it states on the packaging) and gives a lovely radiant complexion.

For my random favourite I decided on my new phone case. I think it's such a pretty vintage floral design with pastel colours that I love. It's quite good as well a is often wear similar colours to these so I find it tends to match my outfit which is always nice. I bought it from Etsy and it is for an iPhone 5c.

So they are all the things that I have been loving this past month. I hope you enjoyed this post- look out for my June wrap up coming very soon. What are some of your favourites of June?
Love Ellen xx

Monday, 23 June 2014

Mini Book Haul


On Saturday on the way home from town I popped into WH Smith just for a quick browse and accidentally left with a large plastic bag and a purse that was a little less full than when I entered. I'm really excited about the books I got though so I thought I would share them on here. 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin  
Summers spam decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stack counts it as a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will not what he must... and a dead enemy is a thing if beauty. The old gods have no power in the South, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.                                                                                                                                                                                            I am sure you have all heard of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and I'm sure many have either read it or watched the TV show. There is a lot of hype around this series but I have always been unsure whether to pick it up or not because each book has a hell of a lot of pages and the series is meant to be quite challenging to follow with a complicated world and many characters. I thought I would get the first one to tackle over the summer and see how I find it. I don't know too much about it but it sounds brilliant and I am pretty excited to find out more.

An Abundance of Katherine's by John Green 

When it comes to relationships, Colim 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 dog on his tail 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.                                                                                                                                                                   Of course you've heard of John Green- let's face it, he's pretty much the king of witty and intelligent contemporary YA novels- however it's safe to say that this is probably his least talked about book with much less hype and slightly more mixed reviews. I love John Green's writing and the stories he comes up with so of course I had to buy it (especially as it was half price) and I will be very interested to see what I will think of it. By any means, it sounds like an intriguing story line, and boy do I love a good road trip so fingers crossed for this one.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell   

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.
Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.                                                            Again, you've proabably heard of this book as well. I already own Fangirl, though I'm resisting temptation to read it as I think it would be perfect for summer time and I know Rainbow Rowell is a very popular author so hopefully I will enjoy Eleanor and Park just as much as everyone else. It sounds like a heartwarming and lovely (but maybe sad??) read which I am really looking forward to so I ended up picking it up even though I told myself I would wait and see if I enjoyed Fangirl first (now I have the predicament of which I should read first...). Also it has a blurb by John Green and the cover is so cute and beautiful that I simply couldn't resist.     

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Sutter's the guy you want at a party. He'll get very one dancing. He'll get everyone in your parents' pool. He has no plans for university and will probably end up folding men's shirts for a living. But right now life's pretty fabuloso.                                                                                                   Until he meets Aimee. Aimee's clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help. It's up to Sutter to show her a splendiferous time and then let her go.                                                                                                         But Aimee's not like other girls and before long he's in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else's life - or ruin it                                                                                                                                                                This contemporary YA novel sounds like the perfect mixture of character development, deepness (and all that good stuff) and funny romance which is exactly what I want this summer. The cover is beautiful, though I must say, how annoying is it when they slap a non-removable "sticker" on it to promote the movie!!! .....Anyway, this book has some great reviews, sounds brilliant and intriguing (a great coming of age novel I should think) and I can't wait to see how I find it.

I hope you enjoyed this post and are having a good day. Have you read any of these books? What were you thoughts on them?
Love Ellen xxx


Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Fault in Our Stars Film Review


On Thursday the 12th of June, a few of my friends and I were lucky enough to attend the advanced fan   screening of the Fault in Our Stars film adaptation (where you received a lanyard, a poster a on screen Q&A with the cast afterwards and a deleted scene featuring John Green), which although was released in the 6th of June in USA isn't officially released until the 20th in the UK. TFIOS is one of my favourite novels so not only did I have high expectations, but I was also apprehensive that it wouldn't do the book justice. It has such a deep meaning, which I think is different for everyone. For me it's because I read it at a time when I had recently lost two of my grandparents to cancer and was struggling to deal with it. (SPOILER ALERT KIND OF, DONT READ TILL NEXT PARAGRAPH). The book not only shows how awful it is to lose someone but also that the hardest thing of all is to watch someone slowly dying, struggling and being in pain. It shows how dying from a terminal illness is not always a courageous battle, it's simply unfair and the majority of the time you just want it to be all over, quick and easier not slow and drawn out. Reading the Fault in Our Stars was something that really helped me, showed that other people understood. I was so worried that the film would take this away for me.
Fortunately it was amazing, perhaps the most faithful book-to-movie adaptation I have seen and I simply loved it, really loved it. It was great to go to the previewing as it meant that everyone there was a fan of the book, everyone there really understood the beauty and meaning this story holds. Everyone laughed at the same moments, cried at the same moments and recognised all the direct quotes from the book, of which there was many. Everyone it.
Even though the film would still have been grand ( little TFIOS reference for you how could I miss the opportunity?) without having read the book, I definitely recommend reading it first as it made the film so much more meaningful and special. The direct quotes were noticed, the funny parts were funnier, the sad-  sadder. If you haven't read it yet get yourself to a bookshop, on amazon or to the library before you get yourself to the cinema!

There were so many hilarious moments, where the whole cinema were laughing. There were also so many sad, heart breaking moments, as expected, where the whole cinema were sniffling and rustiling tissues. I pretty much sobbed from five minutes in right up until the end (which annoyed my friends a lot...sorry) and I have to say that I was in a little bit of a state, tears running down my face, under my chin and down my neck, tears mingling with pieces of stray hair (little bit disgusting but I had no tissue, my discarded cardigan had to be used as a substitute). Let's just say that I can be a little over-emotional at times. I think that the best way to describe the emotions in this would be laugh-crying. One minute there would be a really emotional scene- meanwhile I would be trying my hardest not to wail- the next, one of the characters would say or do something funny and before you knew it the laughing would mix with the crying.
This film was beautifully produced with tasteful and wonderful settings, cinematography, scripting and overall put together and finishing touches. The acting in this film is fantastic and so natural. Ansel Elgort was hilarious and goofy as Augustus. Shailene Woodley was the perfect Hazel, with natural talent and raw emotion. Natt Wolf played a witty and humorous Isaac which seemed very fitting, and there were so many more great representations of the characters. 
*slight spoiler alert*
In my opinion, the only slight hamartia (another reference for you there) in this near perfect film was the very last line. Whereas in the book it ended with Hazels last words after finishing Gus's letter "I do Augustus, I do" , it ended with with "okay" instead, which while still meaningful, felt a lot more cliché and less deep than the ending in the book. However, aside from this, all the other changes made I felt were rightly judged and didn't change the meaning or the story. 
Overall, The Fault in Our Stars was a beautiful movie adaptation that somehow managed to capture the nature and essence of a story that means so much to so many. 
I hope you enjoyed this post, are you planning on going to see the movie? I definitely reccomend it but please read it first!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


I've already mentioned this book quite a few times on my blog and I wasn't planning on reviewing it but after finishing there was quite a few things that I had to say about it. Overall, I gave this book a 95% rating and here is why: 
Thirteen Reasons Why is about a girl who commits suicide and Clay Jenson who attended her high school and had a massive crush on her. Right before she takes the pills that are responsible for her death, she records the thirteen reasons why she does so on audio tape. Each reason connects to a different person and the tapes are sent to these people after she kills herself. Each person is responsible for passing the tapes on to the next person. When Clay returns home from school one day, he finds the tapes and begins to listen, he is one of the reasons. This is the story of why Hannah killed herself, Clays reaction to hearing them and his aprehension to discover the part he played in it.
I think this idea is really interesting, unique and almost a bit dark. It is almost difficult to read because of the intense emotions that are thrown at you but it makes the whole experience more truthful and gives you a much deeper understanding
The story starts off the morning after Clay listened to the tapes and then flashes back to when he found them. He starts listening to them and we get to read large chunks of Hannah's story, followed by Clays reaction. The transition between the two is done really well and makes it very interesting as it makes the reader react to the tapes in the same way Clay does, rather than in the way of someone who didn't know her. It makes the story much more interesting and triggers many more thoughts and emotions about the topics that are addressed throughout. 
Because the majority of this book is Hannah speaking through audio tapes, it is written quite differently as spoken language can be very different to written language. This made it difficult to get in to. It was needed though as it makes it so much more realistic and relatable. It make you feel more like you are listening to something rather than reading it.
The story was very deep and thought-provoking and brings up interesting and difficult themes that are not glossed over.  It showed how so many different things, both big and small, can continue to build up  until you've had enough of the struggle and pain. It might seem like one little thing to the other person but on top of everything else it is just another thing that makes life hard. You never know what is going on in someone's life, what struggle they're are going through and one small thing that you've payed a part in could make it a hell of a lot worse. It made me think about how careful you have to be not to do hurtful things, how careful you have to be to make sure someone is truly alright. 
After reading it, it made me feel quite negative about life in some ways because of how bad it can be, of what can go on and of all the secrets that somewhere or someone can have that we don't even know about. However, I think that once I have had time to think more about this book and organise my thoughts it will be something that I could take in a positive way and make me have a more positive outlook on life, making it a very influential read. 
It was not perfect by any means but I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a darker, deeper contemporary and like books with a meaning behind them.
Have you read Thirteen Reasons Why? What were your thoughts on it?
I hope you enjoyed my very first review, hopefully it wasn't to terrible.
Love Ellen xxx

Monday, 2 June 2014

June TBR

I always like to plan a couple of the books that I want to get read this month, though not all of them as I do like some freedom. I don't always end up reading the books I plan to read but I thought I would share with you the four books I want to read so far this month.
(Also thought I would apologise for the really weird lighting and bad quality of the photos.)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This contemporary young adult novel is about a girl named Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves behind 7 cassette tapes recorded by her. There is a list of 13 people that she wants to receive these tapes and it is the previous person on that lists responsibility to forward the tapes on to the next person. We follow Clay, Hannah's class mate, and incidently a guy who had a crush on her after kissing her at a party, but apart from that has barely made any interaction which her. The tapes hold thirteen reasons why she killed herself and Clay is one of them.
I recently bought this book because it sounded really interesting, slightly dark and original. It seemed to me like a book that would make me think and one that I would definitely have something to say about after. I am already a little way through it and am enjoying it a lot so far.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

This is a dystopian novel where those who are white are second class citizens, known as the noughts. Those who are black are far superior in society and are responsible for the ruling of the world- the crosses. We follow a boy named Callum who is a nought and a girl named Sephy, a cross and the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country. Their love is forbidden but can they find a way to be together? 
This is a very well-known and popular book that looks really interesting and exciting so I really wanted to get on to it as I am interested on what my thoughts will be and if it lives up to the "hype". It's also on the BBC the Big Read challenge which I am slowly working my way through so it will be great to tick another book off that list.

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
~ I downloaded this free from my kindle app which is why I don't have a physical copy~

Sherlock Holmes is sitting in a cocaine-induced haze until the arrival of a beautiful young lady, seemingly very distressed, forces him into action. Having received a rare and lustrous pearl each year following her fathers death, Miss Morstan consults Holmes and Watson on the day she is summoned to meet her anonymous benefactor.  
I have already read the first Sherlock Holmes instalment, a Study in Scarlet, a few months back and really enjoyed it. It was a short but thrilling and mysterious read so I am looking forward to continuing with this one as it sounds just as, or even better than the last.

Wither (the Chemical Gardens #1) by Lauren Destefano

A botched attempt to create the perfect human race means that men die at 25 and women die at 20. Young girls are being abducted and forced into marriage in a desperate attempt to keep humanity ahead of the disease that threatens to eradicate it. 
When Rhine (aged 16) is kidnapped, she is sold as a bride to Linden, a rich young man which a dying wife. Even though he is kind to her, Rhine is desperate to escape her gilded cage...and Linden's cruel father. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, the young girl attempts to break free in what little time she has left.
I don't really know much about this book- which is why I stole the synopsis from the blurb- and I'm not even sure if it has good reviews but it was offered to me by my sister when she was getting rid of some unwanted books and how could I say no to a free book? It sounds really interesting though and I am trying to get through a few of the books I own that I'm not desperate to read otherwise I will never get round to them, so hopefully I will enjoy this.

So they are the four books that I plan to read this month and of course I will be giving mini reviews for them in my June wrap up so look out for that if you're interested. I hope you enjoyed this post and are having a good day. What do you plan to read this month?
Love Ellen xxx

Sunday, 1 June 2014

May Reading Wrap-up

            (Bad lighting, I know. Sorry!) 

May has officially ended so I thought I would share with you all the books I read in May, along with a brief synopsis and a mini review.
I managed to complete 8 books this month and a total of 3682 pages so it was quite a good reading month for me. 

More Than This    by Patrick Ness            (3 stars)
The story starts off with a boy named Seth, drowning- he dies. But then he wakes in an abandoned but familiar place. He wants answers- Is it real? Has he woke up in his own personalised hell?
I thought that Patrick Ness really portrayed his fantastic writing skills and ability to create a story that leaves impact, so in that sense I enjoyed this book. However, at the beginning it felt like there was no story, yet too many twists that had been crammed in an effort to make it interesting. About a third of the way through, it did get better and more exciting- the story was actually going somewhere and I was interested in what would happen. 
Saying that, while I enjoyed parts of it and appreciated the essence and idea of the story, it is not something I plan to re-read or would reccomend to a friend. The story felt slightly non-existence and slow despite the twists that continued to occur. I do, however think that some people would love this book, especially if you are already a fan of Patrick Ness.

Talented    by Sophie Davis            (3.5 stars)
~This book is currently free as an ebook, I downloaded it onto my kindle app~

Years ago, there was a nuclear explosion which caused certain people to possess special abilities (such as mind manipulation and shape shifting), making them "talented". Talia Lyons was born with the gift to read and influence minds. When she was just her child, her parents were murdered before her eyes. She was given a choice: to walk away or to get revenge. Talia trains to become one of the most deadly assassins in the country, in order to kill the man responsible for her parents death. She has learnt to control her gift, is ready to graduate and there is only one thing standing in her way of retribution...the feelings and distractions of a normal teenage girl.
If Sookie and 007 had a love child with a yearning for vengeance, her story would be TALENTED. That's how this book was described which, of course, sounds amazing. I have to say, it is a fitting description for this book. Fast-moving, dangerous and adventurous story line with lots of romance thrown in, I enjoyed this book a lot. It was easy to read and fun which was exactly what I needed after the heavy plot of More Than This. For me, it felt like there was too much focus on the romance side of things and not enough focus on the action, world building and character development which I felt this book lacked. 
I still really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a well paced, easy to read and exciting story. I think I will continue the series because I wnat to know what happens but it won't be something that I will be desperate to read as soon as possible.

The Fault in Our Stars    by John Green            (5 stars)
(I don't really think I need to give a synopsis for this book as I am sure most people have either read it or know what it is but I will just in case.) 
Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer and she is suffering from the side-effects of dying. Forced into going to a teenage cancer support group by her mum, she meets Augustus Waters (who lost a leg to cancer), there so to support his friend who is about to lose his sight. It completely changes her life in a whirlwind of humor, love and emotion.
This was a re-read before the movie comes out (so excited for it) and it is one of my favourite books of all time. John Green has a fantastic writing style. It can be deep but is also really witty, clever and funny which I love. This book doesn't gloss over difficult issues and teenage experiences but shows a very insightful understanding. The characters are real- I love smart, awkward Hazel and funny, slightly obnoxious Augustus. The story is gripping, raw and one of the books I have cried at the most. It is truly a beautiful story. Everyone should read this book.

The Cuckoos Calling    by Robert Galbraith.           (4.5 stars)
                               (AKA JK Rowling)
Comoran Strike is a slightly unconventional private detective who is struggling to keep his business open and pay off the debts that he owes. John Bristow, a lawyer, is the adopted brother of supermodel Lula Landry who was thought to committed suicide and is adamant that it was murder. He takes it upon himself to hire Strike to investigate. With the help of Robin, the perceptive and smart temporary secretary that he can hardly afford, the detective begins to unravel the mystery that plunges him into a world far from his own.
I was really skeptical about this book, being that JK Rowling- whom I love- had written it. I didn't want to be disappointed, I didn't want the magic to get a little bit ruined. Needless to say, there was no reason to be worried. JK Rowling, yet again, has crafted a brilliant and gripping story with a genius plot line. She is such a clever writer- every detail is thought through, every little thing pinpointed so that it is impossible to find any mistakes. Her writing style is funny and interesting and just as fluent as it is in her famous children's series. It was exciting and unexpected and best of all, the characters were real. They were flawed and complicated and interesting- beautifully developed. It was an amazing crime novel that I would reccomend to anyone who enjoys older books and likes a little mystery.

City of Fallen Angels    by Cassandra Clare            (5 stars)
(The mortal instruments #4)
I am sure you all know what the mortal instruments series is and if you don't then I really don't know where you have been. Obviously I can't give a synopsis because it's the fourth in the series and wouldn't want to risk giving away any spoilers so all I will say is:
It is set in a world of shadowhunters and demoms, vampires and werewolves, fairies and warlocks and centres around the struggle for power, the battle vs good and evil and the need to eradicate demoms from the world. 
As always, it was a fantastic instalment in the series. The characters that were introduced were all brilliant and I love the relationships between the characters that we see. It was hilarious and emotional and, yet again an extremely gripping and exciting story line. My one criticism would be that Cassandra Clare sometimes includes too much description that is not needed and does not add to the story. However that did not stop me from giving it 5 stars.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets    by JK Rowling            (5 stars)
Obviously this is a re-read and of course there is nothing I need to say in terms of the synopsis. Even if you haven't read it (which you absolutely should do) I am sure you have most likely seen the films, or at the very least know what it is about.
It was amazing as always. Such an exciting, fun adventure with humor, beautiful relationships, amazing character development and a world that I wished I lived in. No words can describe how amazing this series is and how much I love it.

City of Lost Souls    by Cassandra Clare            (5 stars)
(the mortal instruments #5)
As you can see I went on a bit of a TMI fest in preparation for the final book. Again. The same goes for this one in terms of the synopsis as it did for City of Fallen Angels.
This is definitely my second favourite book in the series. Cassandra Clare's writing improved a lot in this one and I really enjoyed it. I loved some of the humor and Simon has finally convinced me to kind of love him (although not in the same way as Jace who is amazing) and Isabelle is completely, utterly fantastic. One of my favourite female characters ever. I couldn't put this book down and the story felt so much more dangerous and interesting than ever before. There were seriously so many feels!

City of Heavenly Fire    by Cassandra Clare            (5 stars)
The final book, where it all ended. I have barely even gathered my thoughts for this one, I don't know if I can handle it. It was amazing, my favourite by far and such a fantastic end to a fantastic series. Parts of it were so funny and I laughed out loud many times- I love Cassandra Clares humor. It was so intense and stressful and there were so many feels. I actually think I cried for like half of the book. I really don't want to give any spoilers away so all I will say is that there were almost as many happy tears as there were sad tears, but then maybe I just cry more at sad things. It was so good- if you haven't read it yet then WHY? You need to get it finished now.
Also just a quick mention that there is currently a read-along for this book happening. There is a group on GoodReads and it is being hosted by Sarah Churchill (I think?) from youtube. It started today and ends on the 28th of June when there will be a liveshow discussing it (which I will definitely be watching) if anyone is interested in that.

I hope you enjoyed this post, I know it was a pretty long one but I had quite a bit to say. What did you read this month? Have you read any books mentioned? 
Love Ellen xxx