Thursday, 27 July 2017

Life: Making Those Absolutely Essential Life Changes

The last 18 months have been pretty difficult for me.  

Admitting that is tough enough in itself.

I’ve had some amazing experiences, such as graduating with a BA in French Studies and also completing my teacher training, as an Outstanding practitioner. I’ve met some amazing new people- some who I know will be friends for life- and experienced wonderful new things in my daily life.  

But there have also been some negatives…

I’ve lost people who I thought would always be in my life.

I’ve made silly mistakes that I’d take back in a heartbeat.

I’ve had health complications that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I’ve been working all the hours God sends, trying to achieve this end goal of becoming a fully qualified Primary School Teacher. I have finally achieved that end goal, but not without difficulties and without taking the plunge and getting rid of everything and anything toxic or negative from my life. It’s past the halfway point in the year and I am happy to report that things are looking bright. I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learnt over the last year and a half, and how these things have shaped me into a more positive and happy person.

I have learnt to say no to things when I don’t want to do them.

In the past, I have been what I’d probably refer to as a people pleaser. I would agree to pretty much anything, if it meant making other people happy. Most of the time, it resulted in everyone being happy but me. If I want to stay at home, binge watching Gilmore Girls and eating salted popcorn over a night out in Liverpool, then quite frankly, that’s my prerogative. No one is going to guilt trip me or make me feel bad about making my own decisions any more. 

I have learnt that true friends are there for you always, not when it’s just convenient to them.

Working 55+ hours a week really helps you discover quickly who your real friends are. Your real friends check in on you when they think you’ve been working too hard. Your real friends are there to be a shoulder when you need to rant. Your real friends don't just speak to you when it suits them. Real friends understand that friendship is a two-way street, and if they’re there for you, you’ll likely be there for them. I know exactly who the people I can trust are now and I’m actually quite thankful for this, even if it meant losing people who I thought were friends along the way. I'm done with always being the one to reach out to people if they're incapable of returning the favour. 

I have learnt that sometimes, you just have to let go.

Sometimes the hardest things to let go of are the things that have the most detrimental effect on your well being. Letting go of someone who meant everything to me at one point was the hardest thing I’ve had to do this year, but it was also the best decision for my health and my happiness. Past me would have hoped to reconcile this friendship at some point, but sometimes letting go entirely is the best thing for all parties. In my case, enough is enough. 

I have learnt that laughter is the best medicine.

Over the course of the last six months, I have gone from a miserable, shell of my former self back to the happy, smiling and cheerful person that I used to be. Life is not perfect- it isn’t now, it wasn’t in the past, and I know that it won’t be in the future, but having friends, family and experiences that make me happy and bring laughter to my life is the key to making everything come together in the end.

Do you know what? I've learnt that actually, I'm pretty darn happy in myself. 

And that's absolutely fine by me.


Monday, 24 July 2017

Goodreads: A Quarter Of A Years Worth of Recently Reads

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a wrap-up… well over 2 months in fact, but that does mean that I’ve got 2 months’ worth of books to wrap up so this might well be quite a long one!

May called for some big names, as far as books were concerned, as well as a debut that read as thought it was written by a well-established author. Reading Big Little Lies was a bit of a must for me, as I wanted to delve into the TV show and I have a strict rule requiring that I read the book first. I LOVED the book and the show wasn’t awful either- I’ve reviewed the book in full here if you want to read more of my thoughts on it. I would definitely recommend, regardless.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris was another absolute cracker of a read: we all know I love my psychological thrillers and quite frankly, B.A Paris is one of the masters of the genre.  I’m planning a full review of this one at some point in the next few weeks, but if you like a good thriller or a book with a twist at the end, then this is definitely the one for you.

I’ve reviewed my last book of May, Miss You by Kate Eberlen, in full and again, it was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The cover of the book compares it to One Day by David Nicholls, which I think is a fair comparison considering the plot and the style of writing. I would say that it’s as good as One Day, in a completely different way. My full review is here if you want to have a read.

June was a month for contemporaries and even more psychological fiction. I started off with What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell. This one wasn’t the BEST book I’ve read, but it also wasn’t the worst. I have quite a few thoughts on the book that I’m planning on exploring in more detail next week, but I will say that there were certain aspects of the story that I found to be a little unbelievable and frustrating. I gave the book 3/5 on my goodreads reviw, although I must admit that I was quite generous. It could have gone either way with me, unfortunately it went the way I hoped it wouldn’t.

By contrast, Sister Sister by Sue Fortin was a book I really CAN get behind. This one was creepy and thought-provoking and had me questioning every character, every motive and every possibility. I love a book that allows you to get lost in its pages and this was definitely one of those page turners.

Sarah Dessen and I have had a long and thorough relationship, books-wise. She’s the author I’m probably most attached to, of all the books I’ve ever read. Her contemporary YA books are few and far between nowadays – we’re lucky to get a book from her every three years- and I understand why; life just gets in the way of writing. Every time she announces a new book, however, I have absolutely no doubt that the book will be everything I need, and Once and For All was absolutely no exception to that. I have read every book that Sarah has written, some of them multiple times, and she continues to write stories that touch me to the core. This book was the same. I loved the characters, I loved the plot, and I love Sarah’s writing style more than anything. She has such a way with words and simple sentences from her sound melodic. My review of this will be up this week, but in the meantime, go out and buy the book if you haven’t done already.

We all know Patrick Ness. You’ve probably read or watched A Monster Calls and blubbed throughout. Perhaps you’ve also read a few of his other books as well. I’m yet to be disappointed by a book by him. Until, recently, I kind of was. I say kind of, because his newest book, Release, was actually blooming good. Except for ONE little catch- it had a sort of side-story that just baffled me beyond belief. Again, I’ll be sharing my thoughts in a stand-alone review in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that if you want to know more before buying it for yourself.

At the end of June, I was invited to participate in the book tour for The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith. I re-read bits of the book in July, so I’m including it in this month’s reads. I LOVED this book. It explored issues that I’ve never come across before, in a writing style that I instantly found myself attached to. READ. THIS. BOOK.

I couldn’t go a month without a good old fashioned psychological thriller, could I? Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go was probably one of the first books I ever reviewed on this blog, so I definitely have a little bit of a soft spot for her writing. I don’t think you’ll be all that surprised to hear that I See You did not disappoint me and I have a Clare Mackintosh shaped hole in my heart again!

All The Bright Places is one that I’ve had in my amazon basket for what seems like forever, so I thought it was about time that I bought myself a copy and gave it a read. This was one of those books that you need to devour in a single sitting, and I did just that, with the exception of the last 40 pages or so. It was a devastating book, with a beautiful and interesting tale following two incredibly different but fascinating characters. The relationship formed between the two protagonists was a pure one and the end result was simply devastating.

On 4th July, along with a few friends, I went to a Waterstones event in Liverpool involving Matt Haig. I’ve read a few of Matt’s books- Reasons to Stay Alive and The Humans- and the release of his newest book How to Stop Time really interested me. Listening to Matt speak was an amazing experience and reading this book added to that experience. The book is interesting, incredibly unlike anything I’ve read before, and full of unimaginable wisdom. A truly remarkable book written by a truly remarkable author. My full review of the book will go live on Sunday, and I have A LOT of thoughts about it to share with you all.  

What have you been reading recently? Let me know! 


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Book Review: Miss You by Kate Eberlen

Book Review: Miss You by Kate Eberlen | Hollie In Wanderlust

Opening the front door to book post from the postman is my absolute favourite thing to do. Opening the front door to UNEXPECTED book post is even better. I was treated to a copy of   Miss You by Kate Eberlen, all packaged up and delivered to my door on publication day by Mantle at Pan Macmillan and I absolutely loved falling in love with Gus and Tess and their delightful tale. The cover claims that lovers of One Day by David Nicholls will find themselves equally pleased and I commend the comparison. I loved One Day and I loved Miss You. Arguably, equally as much. Here’s why.

Miss You takes the love story behind One Day- boy and girl meet, boy and girl fall in love but are kept apart by fate and other tragic circumstances- and twists it completely on its side. Boy and girl meet- albeit incredibly briefly- and then, for the rest of the tale, live their lives separately, neither of the two aware that their meeting one another properly has been stopped by some greater force. Gus and Tess meet briefly whilst holidaying, separately, in Italy when they are teenagers. Their conversation lasts all of seconds, and neither of them thinks much of the other. Over the course of the next 16 years – the duration of the novel- the two characters continue to brush past one another without officially ‘meeting’ one another properly.

Each of the two characters falls in love, has life experiences, suffers loss, completely independently of the other. We follow Tess as she loses her mother to cancer and puts her plans to go to university to one side to take care of her younger sibling, contrasting with Gus who attends medical school to please his parents who are still mourning the son they lost to a skiing accident. We see Gus marry and have children. We watch as Tess’s relationship with her sister unfolds. Two separate stories which you find yourself willing to come together as one. Of course, the two characters DO eventually meet one another, but I’ll leave it to you to discover how and when, and what comes of this inevitable meeting.

I absolutely LOVED this story. I hadn’t heard much about it prior to receiving my copy of the book so I went into it with absolutely no expectations at all. I devoured every page, feeling all sorts of emotions for the characters. I loved both Gus and Tess’s chapters equally, which is quite unusual for me. I normally find myself more attached to a single character, so to speed through both character’s chapters with no qualms is indeed quite rare. I saw a little old lady reading this on the bus and was quick to let her know just how good the story is (she was enjoying it a lot) and I’ll definitely be passing my copy on to my mum at the next possibility. I’m really, really excited to see what Kate Eberlen comes up with next. A writer to keep an eye on, for sure.


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Beauty: A (much needed) Makeover from Vogue Hair and Beauty, Liverpool*

We all love a good pamper session, right? I know I do. The last few months of my life have been hectic, full of sleep deprivation and a lot more stress than is healthy for a girl of my age. I have to admit- I’ve really let myself go. I’ve skipped putting on my makeup on a daily basis to benefit from that extra 20 minutes in bed. I’ve let my brows go, to the point where they’re as far away from en fleek as possible. I have EYE BAGS. At 23!!!!

When one of my favourite PR ladies got in touch with me on behalf of Vogue Hair and Beauty Lounge in Liverpool, I honestly felt like all my prayers had been answered. I was offered the choice of a complimentary curly blow or makeup application. As I had a leaving do for one of my jobs coming up, I thought I’d get my makeup done so I could feel like the belle of the ball for once rather than the ugly duckling that teaching has turned me into.

Vogue Hair & Beauty, situated on Old Hall Street right in the heart of Liverpool, is a little gem. Hidden away in a old-fashioned building, the salon itself reeks of style and sophistication and everything you look for when aiming for glamour. When I arrived, I was offered a drink by staff and seated comfortably. Beth, the lady who was doing my makeup application, was a lovely and attentive member of staff and I felt at ease from the word go. The salon was beautifully furnished and decorated, bright and full of light, and really felt welcoming as you entered.

I’ve had makeup applications before where I’ve had to spend a LOT of time post-application dabbing off excess product and toning down what had been done to me. That most definitely wasn’t the case here. The makeup was applied with precision and care, and Beth took the time to ask me about my thoughts before applying. The products that she used were of a high standard and complimented my skin tone perfectly. I opted for a lash-less look as I’m not really all that used to wearing them and I have pretty long lashes anyway. I also opted for nude shades on my eyes- I’d bought a gorgeous skirt from Topshop to wear and the makeup really matched with the look. Beth finished off the look with a gorgeous coating of a matt lip version of the infamous MAC Velvet Teddy lipstick and I was good to go, after taking a few selfies of course!

I would definitely go back to Vogue for a makeup application- and I’m planning on booking in for when we take a trip to the races. I’m quite a safe makeup user- I use the same products, in the same way, every single time I put makeup on, so it was nice to go out of my comfort zone and spice things up a little. I felt confident after application and got SO many compliments on the amazing job that Beth did on my makeup. Thank you so much to the guys at Vogue for the treatment, it really was much appreciated! 

© Hollie in Wanderlust . All rights reserved.