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Sunday, 5 November 2017

Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Sunday, 5 November 2017
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Last year, I wrote a post about why I read (and love) YA fiction. Since then, the amount of YA fiction that I’ve read has decreased significantly. Not because I’ve grown out of the genre, or because I’ve not bought any YA fiction books, but because I’ve just been so absorbed in other genres that I just haven’t had the time to keep on reading them. This month, that changed and I read a YA fiction book that I’ve been meaning to read for a few years now: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

This was a book that I had my doubts about but I had heard lots of good things about it so I thought I’d give it a go and see how I liked it myself. Obviously, with the movie adaptation being released this year, I wanted to read it quickly so I could see the film as soon as possible. The story follows Madeline, a girl who has suffered from an auto-immune illness which stops her from being able to leave her house for the entirety of her life. At 18, this obviously causes problems and limits her social interactions and her personal happiness. When a family move in next door, Madeline finds herself intrigued by the family’s young son, Olly. After exchanging email addresses in a novel, clichéd way – paper pressed against the window- the two begin conversing and slowly become friends. Eventually, with a lot of pressure directed at Madeline’s nurse to allow them permission to meet, Madeline and Olly are allowed an hour to spend time together, to get to know one another. Inevitably, they fall in love and things get significantly more difficult for Madeline in her isolated environment. Feeling stuck, she decides to run away from home and breaks the careful bubble that her mother has placed her in. Olly in tow, Madeline travels to Hawaii to explore the world and experience everything that she has been denied access to her entire life.

In all, I enjoyed the book but it didn’t come without complications. I felt like the story was a little bit predictable but in spite of that I sped through it pretty quickly. It’s not a very long story and the writing is quite fast paced- a lot happens in 300 pages but it’s easy to follow and keep up with the pace. I loved the reference to Flowers for Algernon, my favourite book of all time and the layout of the book kept it pretty interesting. It was one of those books that I was happy to have had the opportunity to read, but at the same time it didn’t do anything that made me feel. I didn’t find myself falling in love with the characters – in fact, I found Maddy to be quite a selfish character with no concern for anyone but herself and her own feelings. I felt very sorry for Maddy’s mother and understood her viewpoint very well.

A decent read, but nothing to blow you out of the water with.


2.5/5.


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Travel: An (eventful) Stay in North Wales

Travel: An (eventful) Stay in North Wales
Saturday, 28 October 2017
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One of the (many) benefits of being a teacher are the lovely (and much needed) holidays slotted conveniently throughout the year, ready to take full advantage of. Having had itchy feet since my last trip to Germany in August, staying in Merseyside for the entire week’s holiday was not on the agenda. I’m currently saving up to buy a little home of my own, so spontaneous trips abroad are now well and truly off the agenda. Booking a little getaway was, however, much needed, so after browsing Airbnb for what seems like a lifetime, we settled on a glamping experience in North Wales for the night. We decided on this beautiful little Shepherds Hut in Rhosesmor, packed our bags and got set for a lovely little trip.

I must admit that the trip didn’t get off to the best start. We had a full itinerary of exciting things to do before we checked into the hut- we planned on going hiking in Moel Famau (and then realised quite quickly that that was a terrible idea- us? Hiking? HA!). After laughing off that suggestion, we settled on a stroll through a beautiful park in Connah’s Quay, hosting the most stunning waterfall. Instagram posts, romantic stroll, what more could we possibly ask for? Cue the rain, ruining plans and potential Instagram-worthy images. And, (un)ironically, the rain is where all of our problems began.

Travel: An (eventful) Stay in North Wales | Hollie in Wanderlust | Travel Blogger | Liverpool Blogger

The place where our Airbnb was located was, to put in simply, in the middle of nowhere. The rain was falling heavily, the wind was blowing a hundred miles a minute and we were more than excited to get settled in and cosy in our little bubble away from the hustle and bustle of Liverpool. Finding the place proved a bit of a challenge, but following the instructions we had been given, we found ourselves heading in what we thought was the right direction towards the house. We went slightly too far down the road and had to turn around, except driving down the winding, narrow country roads meant that turning around in the middle of the road was damn near impossible. We drove down to the bottom of the road, came to a field and made an attempt to turn the car back around to drive into the house’s yard. I say the word ‘attempted’ purposely, as turning the car around proved much more difficult than anticipated. Mostly because of the fact the car had started to sink into the mud. Yes, you read that correctly.

Travel: An (eventful) Stay in North Wales | Hollie in Wanderlust | Travel Blogger | Liverpool Blogger

Long story short, the car was stuck and no amount of manoeuvring was going to get us out. After failing to contact the people we were staying with, and full of fear that a baseball bat yielding farmer with the police on speed-dial was going to bombard us, we got straight onto the insurance company to come and tow us out. Whilst this was all going down, and policies were being checked and both Richard and I had had full on meltdowns, the airbnb host called me back and revealed that we were stuck on their field, and they’d happily come and pull us out with their tractor. Ridiculously embarrassed but relieved we weren’t going to be arrested, the car was rescued and we could finally get to enjoying our relaxing (!!!) weekend away.


Travel: An (eventful) Stay in North Wales | Hollie in Wanderlust | Travel Blogger | Liverpool Blogger

And, boy, was it relaxing. Because of the awful weather, the lovely Sandra and her husband upgraded our stay from the Shepherd’s hut to the Summer House and it is honestly the most beautiful little house I’ve ever seen. We had everything we needed to have a relaxing stay, gifted with bread, breakfast goods and cheese and we were left to our own devices. Being the absolute geeks that we are, we had a relaxing afternoon listening to football, playing scrabble and enjoying the beautiful countryside. We drove into Mold in the evening for dinner and got back to the house in the early evening to enjoy the rest of our time away. Richard’s favourite film is Interstellar so we stuck that on and poured cocktails to sip whilst we watched. My favourite liquor is a Maltese one called bajtra, which is made from prickly pear fruit, and I’d been scouring the internet for cocktail ideas to try out. We awoke early the next morning and enjoyed a breakfast of welsh cheddar on fresh toast, yoghurts and fruit. Packing the car back up to go home was done ever so reluctantly, our thoughts already on our return back to the gorgeous countryside setting and where our travels will take us next. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Food: Tickling My Tastebuds at The Vincent Kitchen, Liverpool

Food: Tickling My Tastebuds at The Vincent Kitchen, Liverpool
Monday, 23 October 2017
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Of all the things that Liverpool is famous for, I really do believe that it’s fabulous restaurant scene is the one that is the most underrated of all. There are a wide breadth of different cuisines readily available all over the city, with no street no more populous than Bold Street if you’re looking for the perfect place to dine. Whenever I’m struggling for somewhere to eat, I tend to take a wander down Bold Street and see what tickles my taste buds the most. New to the joint, The Vincent Kitchen sits perfectly amongst well-reputed restaurants with their own personal styles and unique palettes and when I was invited to check out their new menu, I was full of optimism for a fantastic evening of food. I was not to be disappointed.

Food: Tickling Tastebuds at The Vincent Kitchen, Liverpool | Hollie in Wanderlust | Food Blogger | Foodie

Boyfriend in tow, we arrived at the restaurant with our expectations high and our stomachs rumbling. The place has a cool, chilled out vibe, furnished to a high standard with quirky wall art and a self-serve drinks machine that offered a crazy amount of flavoured fizzy drinks. I loved the added ‘spooky’ touch that had been put in place for Hallowe’en, although Rich wasn’t best pleased with the fake (but very realistic looking!) spiders scattered around the restaurant. The restaurant has built its reputation on the fact that the vast majority of its meals and drinks are suitable for those with special dietary requirements, with vegan and gluten free options available in surplus. I personally eat a predominantly (with the exception of drunken cheese feasts) dairy free diet and I know of people close to me who eat gluten free, so already I had high hopes for the food offerings. Knowing that there were gluten free beers available as well was an additional positive.

Food: Tickling Tastebuds at The Vincent Kitchen, Liverpool | Hollie in Wanderlust | Food Blogger | Foodie

Having perused the menu, both Richard and I decided to build our own bowls, to really get the most out of the experience. I combined rice noodles with Moroccan lamb, butternut squash and sweet potato, a teriyaki glaze and cucumber salad. The butternut squash and sweet potato was seasoned in the most delicious chilli, mint and garlic mixture, and the lamb was sweet and minty, the perfect accompaniment to the sharp teriyaki glaze. Richard went for rice noodles with Thai grilled chicken, and after discussion with the waitress over spice levels, decided to try out the recommended peanut sauce; a bit of a kick, but not one that’ll leave you senseless. He went for butternut squash, sweet potato and cucumber salad on top. We were really impressed with the standard of the food, everything was cooked beautifully and went together so well, in spite of the range in choice. You can pair your meat, fish or veg choice with a whole range of different toppings, veg accompaniments and seasonings- there really is something for everyone, no matter your preference.  

Food: Tickling Tastebuds at The Vincent Kitchen, Liverpool | Hollie in Wanderlust | Food Blogger | Foodie

I would definitely recommend The Vincent Kitchen to lovers of Thai and Asian style food and I must say that the experience on the whole was a fantastic one and I think we’ll be heading back to The Vincent Kitchen very, very soon.