Monday, 27 April 2015

Book Review: The House of Silk

It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.

Intrigued, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious 'House of Silk' . . .

This book has been sat on my shelf for years and I honestly don't know why I haven't picked it up sooner. I love books that are set in the Victorian Era and I was intrigued to see how a modern day author would handle a Sherlock Holmes story. It was clear from early on that Anthony Horowitz handled such a literary giant in the most perfect way.

When Holmes and Watson begin work on a case involving Irish gangs and destroyed art they feel they will have their work cut out spanning the investigation between London and America as well as discovering the identity of a mystery man who seems to hold the key to connecting the case across the two countries but soon new twists and turns are added to the case that take them far away from the original case and brings them something much darker and bigger than they could have imagined.

I can't really pick out a single fault in this novel, it is gripping from start to end and the big reveal of 'The House of Silk' is one I didn't see coming, I won't give it a way but it's certainly a bit of an uncomfortable topic to touch upon on. Horowitz captures life in Victorian England perfectly and it's easy to imagine the characters, the building and the streets from his descriptions. It was certainly a brave decisions to take on the Sherlock Holmes legacy but Horowitz was certainly the best man for the job.

Rating: ★★


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Lauren's Lists: Favourite things about spring

  1.  The first time you can go out without a jacket on and just feel a little bit freer without all the bulk of winter layers
  2. Waking up to blue skies and sunshine makes early morning so much more bearable
  3. Blossom falling from the trees and coating the ground in pretty little petals
  4. Seeing all the lambs and ducklings 
  5. Lighter nights, although I do love dark evenings there does come a time where a crave the light evenings
  6. Been able to snatch a little time outside to relax and have a cuppa
  7. Opening my window and listening to the birds sing on an evening
  8. How much happier everything seems - a bit of sun and a bit more colour to everything makes the world a better place
  9. Ditching boots in favour of pumps
  10. Everything becoming brighter and greener

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Book Review: Dark Matter

January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return - when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible.
And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark...

Dark Matter is a book I've wanted to read for the longest time. I like a good creepy story and I haven't read a good one in quite a while. It's not a very long book but it does manage to pack a lot in.

A team of five men are quickly wittled down to three on an expedition to the Artic, the trip seems to bring bad luck right from the start. Then there's the Norweigen captain who seems insistent that they camp anywhere but Gruhuken but won't say why and after helping the men sat up their camp he makes a very hasty retreat. Soon the small team experience more bad luck and Jack is left at Gruhuken on his own, when daylight no longer exists and something walks outside the cabin and invades his dreams.

By far the best part of the book is the descriptive language used. Paver's descriptions of the Arctic landscape and of Gruhuken are excellent and they made this book a pleasure to read. Next up is that is does actually manage to build a good bit of tension at many parts I found myself hastily reading line after to line to found out what was going to happen quicker. It's only let down is that it doesn't do much in the way of character building, for most of the book, Jack is pretty much the only character so I expected to know a lot more about him than what I did by the end. If the characters would have had as much description as the landscape this would have been an excellent book. None the less I enjoyed it and would say it's worth a read.

Rating: ★★


Monday, 13 April 2015

Taking time to just be - an update

 I've just had the most wonderful two weeks off work. At the start of my holiday I wrote a blog post about how I wanted to just relax, get my energy levels back up and enjoy not having any plans. I also said I'd probably do an update of how that worked out, so here it is!

Despite not having any plans, Josh and I seem to have had quite a good few days this holiday. They were very relaxed, simple days but they were honestly so much fun. We also lost a very large amount of time to films. Regular readers will know how much we love our films from our posts at the end of each month rounding up what we've watched but the last couple of months have been pretty poor in terms of film watching but I can assure you we have more than made up for that already this month, we have currently watched 13 films and there's half the month to go yet so I'm thinking our What We Watched post will be in two parts this month!

When we weren't watching films though we've had some fun days out, eaten lots of (bad) food and taken some of the best naps ever! I just knew it was going to be a good break when Josh left work on our last Friday and suggested heading out for some pub grub and a few drinks, it was the best start to our time off. I can honestly says these two weeks off have to possibly be my favourite ever, I feel refreshed, relaxed, I've laughed so much and generally just felt really happy and that's everything I wanted from this time off.


Friday, 10 April 2015

Dear time, slow down please


Dear time,
I find as I get older you go much faster and I'd really like it if you could slow down a bit please. The hours, days, months and years used to pass by in a calm, relaxed and dare I say it, slow manner. I'll be honest and admit I used to wish sometimes that you'd speed up, that you'd bring along the things I was looking forwards to much quicker than what you did. The next birthday, the next holiday, Christmas, and so on. 

And yet you never did. Until I grew up. And now everything is rushed, months pass by in a blur and before I know it I'm another year older. The people around me are growing older and I'd like to slow things down a bit. I'll wait patiently for the next exciting thing to come along rather than wishing the days away but can you please stop moving so fast.

I always feel I have to cram so much into my days and I day spent doing nothing sometimes feels like a day that's been wasted, I too need to slow down and not try to cram so much into the few hours you give me each day. I complain how my week has dragged but then my weekends have passed me by before I've time to think. I'd like to look back every now and again and think that the weekend had gone slowly too.

So lets make a deal time, you and I, I'll stop wishing away the days if you could just put the brakes on a little. Thanks. 


Monday, 6 April 2015

Current favourites: Lush

I've always loved Lush but mainly for their bubble bars and bath bombs (and Snow Fairy shower gel of course) I've sampled a few other products here and there over the years but nothing has ever really become a firm favourite and part of my routine. Over the past year I've tried out a lot more different Lush products and some of these have definitely become firm favourites. Today I thought I'd share 6 products from Lush that I've fallen in love with.

Flying Fox - packed full of honey but with a unique almost floral smell, I love this shower gel. I have really sensitive skin that dries out easy and is prone in eczema so this is just perfect for me. It feels really soothing, it doesn't strip the skin and leave it feeling uncomfortable and it smells amazing. Although this size bottle is far from cheap it lasts ages as a little goes a long way and I personally think it's worth it for using something packed full of natural and nourishing ingredients that I know won't irritate my skin.

Ro's Argan Body Conditioner - Again this is another quite pricey product but I was hooked on this from the first time I used a little pot of it that I got in a gift set. I can't properly remember when I bought this tub but I think it was around September time and I still have just a bit more than a quarter left, I don't use it all the time but it does get used a lot so it really does last. It full of super moisturising ingredients so again it's perfect for my sensitive skin and it doesn't further irritate any eczema patches I have. It's great for after shaving too. You apply it to damp skin then rinse it off and your skin is left feeling super soft and smelling beautiful.

Hair Doctor - My scalp tends to go through periods of getting quite itchy which isn't helped by the fact I now lighten my hair so the peroxide makes it even worse. I bought this mask specifically to stop the itching after I've lightened my hair and it works a treat. I find it a little stiff and definitely needs warming up in your hands to get it to spread. I don't think it smells great either but I'm really not bothered about that because this is a pre-shampoo treatment applied to dry hair so this smell washes away anyway. It says to use within three weeks but I'll be honest and say I've had my pot quite a while and it's completely fine and still works well on my scalp. 

Big - I could write an essay on my love for this shampoo but I'll try and keep it short. Big is a sea salt shampoo with coconut oil and seaweed to soften and lemon and lime to add shine. It's designed to give you volumised hair. So does it work, well I'm not left with huge hair no, however I am left with soft, shiny hair that isn't weighed down (and therefore not plastered to my head), brushes really easily and continues to do so until I next wash my hair and leaves me with really clean hair that stays a lot fresher between washes so I can go just a little longer without washing it which has improved the condition of my hair. In short I bloody love it. I wouldn't be without this shampoo now.

Tea Tree Water - this is the perfect toner for my combination skin. I'm prone to spots around my chin and jaw and I feel this really calms my skin down. Before this I was using Caudalie's Beauty Elixer and I can safely say I much prefer this toner. It's refreshing to use in a morning and soothing to use at night. I'll definitely keep repurchasing this.

Grease Lightning - this gently but effectively soothes spots and helps them heal and clear up. There's not too much to say about a spot treatment but this one really does work, it's no miracle worker but it does help to reduce redness and the size of the spot. My only annoyance with this is the pump, it squirts far too much out so I tend to unscrew the lid and take some from the tube of the pump now.


Friday, 3 April 2015

FILMS: What We Watched #8

The Emperor's New Groove
2000 | 78 | Comedy / Animation
J: I'd never seen this film before (at least I don't remember seeing it, anyway!) I vaguely remember the spinoff cartoon The Emperor's New School, but not the original movie itself! Anyway, it was pretty good...I got a good few chuckles out of it, and John Goodman (AKA Fred Flintstone) and Patrick Warburton (AKA Joe from Family Guy) provide some fantastic voices for two of the lead characters!

L: When I saw this on Netflix, I knew I had to introduce Josh to it. I loved this film as a kid. It's just a simple, good fun Disney film. OK it may not be as fancy and as clever as all the more recent Disney films but I like that it's got the more classic feel to it and it still made me laugh watching it as an adult and that's what matters. If at 23 you can't still laugh at a llama what can you do?! Seriously give this a watch I guarantee you'll enjoy the simplicity of it.

 Apollo 13
1995 | 140 min | Historical docudrama
J: Love stuff like, history, action, tense situations...Apollo 13 is a great film made even better because of the fact it's real. The astronauts that flew the mission itself attested to the films accuracy (minus a slight argument...they never argued, apparently!) and said it put them right back up there in the cramped, cold lunar module. Definitely a good, solid watch. And ironically, with the film's lead being played by Tom Hanks, it is Woody the cowboy that is actually a spaceman in space. Who's laughing now, Buzz Lightyear?!

L: This isn't really my usual kind of film, these sort of things are more Josh's cup of tea. I can appreciate that Apollo 13 is a pretty decent film though and even I can sit through it and not get bored. It's the real life story of the aborted 1970 lunar mission. At over 2 hours long it does cram a lot in right from details before the mission, the most important part of during the mission and the issues the Apollo 13 crew faced and then a little bit after the mission. If you enjoy films like this Apollo 13 is definitely worth a watch.

If you only watch one of these films it should be...
J: Oh man! The Emperor's New a (llama) hair 
L: The Emperor's New Groove


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Happy List #113 The March 2015 Edition

A surprise from Josh / Josh and his birthday cake / Cat in a bag

 In comparison to February, March was a quiet month so I don't actually have too much to write. Josh and I got to spend a nice bit of time together when my parents went on holiday which just made me wish for our own place even more. During that time Josh also celebrated his 26th birthday which just seems so strange to me! I also completed a speech and language course I've been on through work which means for the time being I have my evenings back as I don't have homework to do.

There was also some sad news at the end of the month, the day after the photo of Lexi, above, was taken she came home with a pretty bad injury. She has had to have an operation to remove one of her eyes. Even though she's not my cat it was still very upsetting. She's still quite tired but seems to be coming round more and more. Hopefully with her being young she'll adjust really well to only having one eye. 

Things that made me happy in March...
  1. Spending time with Josh - usually we only see each other one evening in the week and then Friday night and Saturday day and night so it was great to spend 11 nights with him when my parents were on holiday. I cannot wait until we have our own place.
  2. Free evenings - I finished a speech and language course I've been doing at the end of the month which means I have my evenings back to plan and write blog posts. I'm hoping to get super organised and get a lot of posts scheduled now.
  3. Two weeks off - The end of the month marked two glorious weeks off for me, so technically this is part of April too. I was so ready for this time off. 
  4. Buying Paul McCartney tickets - we were lucky enough to snap up some tickets for Macca's UK tour in May. We've already seen him twice but its been 5 years since he did a UK tour so tickets sold out fast. We were extremely lucky to get them and I can't wait now!
  5. Welcoming lighter evenings - I prefer winter over summer but there becomes a time when I get fed up of the dark and the cold so I'm definitely enjoying the fact that the clocks went forward in March so I can enjoy lighter evenings.
Things to look forwards to in April - enjoying the rest of my time off work.