Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guava vs Guava

I’ve been in a bit of a slump recently when it comes to doing my nails, I’m not sure why. Even so, it didn’t stop me picking up a few bits and pieces when I was in Manchester at the beginning of them. Along with a black and a white Barry M nail art pen, I bought Barry M Gelly in Guava, a bright turquoise colour as well as finding Revlon’s Guava, which is a hot pinky corally shade. I thought it would be fun the two namesakes!


Outside, natural light


Natural Light



As you can see, both are very bright colours. They are great summery shades. Application for both was a pain, the nails made it look really bumpy. I think that’s partly why I haven’t been enjoying nail polish recently, my nails have been making everything look a bit odd, so I need to work on that! I’m not sure which is my favourite, I actually really enjoyed the two colours together. I guess that makes it a draw!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banned Books Week


So from September 22nd to 28th is Banned Books Week. It was started in 1982 in repsonse to the rise in challenges to schools, libraries and bookshops in America. It makes me sad to think that censorship like that is still prevalent today. To me, book banning conjures up images of Nazi book burning back in the 1930s and 1940s. In fact, while researching this post, I discovered that book burning still occurs now during the 21st Century! Some of the books that have been challenged or banned over the years have become classics, often found on ‘must read’ lists. Some times the reason for banning is absurd. I’m just glad my parents never banned me from reading certain books growing up, which I believe helped me progress at my own speed. There was no passing around books in class for me! Unlike many people growing up in Ireland, which is shown here in this article.

I think Banned Books Week is a great idea, there are so many pictures and articles on Pinterest of past events, where bookshops and libraries do displays and hang posters. One of my favourites is the Random House board. I think it’s important to remind people that some of us are lucky to live where there is no censorship, that we have the freedom to chose what to read. I think showing that books can be banned to younger generations can sometimes spark an interest in reading, that there must be some reason something was banned and it encourages them to get interested in reading. I think it’s a good thing that up until last year I’d never heard of this event, it obviously proves that Ireland isn’t too bad (these days!) when it comes to banning or challenging books.

Here’s a list of banned and challenged books I recommend

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

fahrenheit 451

Well, since the topic is banning books, might as well start with Fahrenheit 451! In this dystopian novel, books are banned for making people unhappy and it’s the job of firemen to burn books and the house they were found in. Due to a series of events, the main character Guy, who is a fireman, finds himself questioning his line of work and the world he lives in. Will he risk everything for books?

Apparently, the reason this book has been challenged is due to ‘inappropriate language’.


James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

James and the Giant Peach

James is a young orphaned boy who is left to grow up with 2 horrible aunts who treat him atrociously. After receiving some magic green crystals from a wizard, James falls and spills the crystals on the roots of an old peach tree that has never bloomed. Shortly after, a peach begins to grow on the tree and eventually becomes an attraction as it grows as large as a house. James eventually escapes from his aunts after he’s invited into the peach by a group of creepy crawlies (who swallowed some of the green crystals and are now as large as James) and together they cut the peach loose from the tree and sail across the ocean to New York. The story follows all their troubles while on their journey.

James and the Giant Peach has been banned and challenged for a number of reasons: the abuse James suffers at the hands of his aunts, inappropriate language, encouragement of alcohol and drug abuse and disobedience towards parents. I’m going to hazard a guess that the use of magic as well as talking animals is also a reason! I think it’s a great book to read, at any age, as Roald Dahl has a fantastic imagination.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


 The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel and is a semi autobiographical account of her life and her struggles with her mental health.

The book has been challenged due the suicide attempts in the book, as well as other controversial issues.

I’ve written a small bit about this book before (here in this article about baths) and it’s enlightened me about mental illness, I think there is too much stigma attached to mental illness and I think it’s a real shame that many books that deal with issues of mental health, like this one, are banned and challenged. I think that just makes the situation worse, it gives the impression that you shouldn’t talk about mental health when it is so important that people not feel shame about talking about mental health issues.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

harry potter

If I need to describe this series, then you’ve been living under a rock!

These books have been banned or challenged due to magic and Satanism, violence, and religious viewpoints.

If you haven’t read this series, please do! Again I’d recommend it to any age. And if you have read Harry Potter and enjoyed it, another series I’d recommend is His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, which have been challenged or banned for similar reasons.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

hunger games

Again, if you haven’t heard of this, get out from under your rock! This story follows Katniss Everdeen, in a dystopian future where North America has been split into 12 different Districts, along with ‘The Capitol’, where each district has it’s own industry. Katniss lives in District 12, the poorest district, where many starve and die. Every year, one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from a random lottery as ‘tributes’ in The Hunger Games, an annual fight to the death event, set in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol.

This book has been challenged due to: violence, anti-ethnic, anti-family, offensive language, insensitivity.

I could go on and on and on about books that have made these lists (Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, Color Purple, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Catcher in the Rye, Gone With the Wind, Judy Blume books, Lord of the Flies, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Ulysses, 1984, Animal Farm, Slaughterhouse Five, Charlotte’s Web, The Giving Tree, The Lorax, The Great Gatsby, A Handmaid’s Tale, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Lolita, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Kite Runner, Twilight series, My Sister’s Keeper…). Chances are you recognize most of these books, if only by title alone. Hopefully you’ve read at least one and are encouraged to read others.

Sources and Links

Banned Books Week website
Frequently Challenged Books of 21st Century
40 Banned Books to Read at Your Own Risk
Best Books Boards to Follow on Pinterest-Celebrating Banned Books
Challenged and Banned Books- Reasons Why These Famous Novels Where Removed

Friday, September 20, 2013

Animal YouTube Pick of the Week

So after last week’s geeky theme, I decided to put all the animal videos I had together in one cute and cuddly post!

I love this channel, Jupiter the Cat never fails to crack me up. And the voices and timing are always brilliant in their videos and this one doesn’t fail to deliver either!

Here’s my otter (I will always call him *my* otter!) Oscar/Ollie being fed!

Yet another Oscar/Ollie one, this time having a bath. Isn’t he adorable?!

This was my favourite video to come out around Shark Week!

The look on this cat’s face is priceless. PRICELESS!

Finally, typical cat!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Despicable Me Minion Cake!


No flash

Last month I went to see Despicable Me 2 with some of my siblings and it was then I decided I’d make a Minion cake for my brother’s birthday. Which is today, and I just couldn’t wait to blog about it! I used this Betty Crocker tutorial as a baseline for cake.

This cake broke my heart to make! It’s been ages since I’ve baked in my parents house and I’ve gotten so used to my own equipment. Nothing went right. No batteries left in scales, so I had to use some non digital ones that are very dodgy. Then the electric beaters just didn’t seem to have it in them to cream the butter and sugar. The cake baked fine, until I tried to lift it out of the pan and it cracked down the centre. ‘Not a problem, it’ll be fine once iced’. I left it to cool, when I came back, some of it had stuck to the plate (rookies mistake I know! But there’s no wire cooling wrack). Though because it was going to be on the bottom, it didn’t make much difference. The cake was fine to shape and the 2 layers of yellow icing went on fine. Blue icing was a bit of a pain to get right, bits of yellow kept peaking through. Black icing for piping was a disaster, it just wasn’t intense enough and of course there were no sandwich bags for making a piping bag, so I fashioned one out of grease proof paper (Mary Berry is probably not impressed me with, it was dreadful). Luckily it all came together in the end (despite it cracking again! Just smoothed it out with some more icing!) and it was really worth it as my brother loved it.

To make it, I made a few adjustments to the Betty Crocker recipe above. I made the cake and icing from scratch, using my ‘go to’ Madeira cake and buttercream icing recipes (I doubled the amounts for both). I followed the icing guides in the article.


For the eye, I twisted off one side of an Oreo and then built up 2 other insides of Oreos to make the white thicker (not really necessary I don’t). I used a Cadbury Button for centre of the eye (and trouser buttons) and for the ring around it, I just scrunched up tin foil.

For the black straps, I used the ready to roll icing, coloured it black, left it hardened in the fridge, then rolled out and cut. Lastly I ‘piped’ (if you can say I even did that!) the black edging along the blue and yellow icing, added some liquorice for the hair and for the mouth!

The great thing about this is you can definitely change it up, you could do two eyes, you can change to mouth to a big grin or even a different facial expression. I’d love to see if I could make a few mini ones from a large cake, another time maybe!

It’s not as polished as the Betty Crocker one, I definitely need to get a palette knife so I can make my finish more smooth. And it’s not perfect, the above story shows why! But I’m happy with it!


With flash

Monday, September 16, 2013

All Hallow’s Read

I don’t know how I actually came across this video, but considering I like to read, love browsing GoodReads, watch various booktubers and follow some bookish accounts on Twitter, it’s not surprising that I did. In this video, author Neil Gaiman wants to start a new tradition around Halloween called All Hallow’s Read. He wants people to give or lend scary books to people for Halloween, be it buying the books new, from 2nd hand shops, gifting on Kindles, lending books or having them being borrowed from libraries. The idea is to get people reading age appropriate scary books around Halloween and hopefully it’ll become a tradition.

Being a big time reader and lover of Halloween, OF COURSE I love this idea! I’m going to try and give some suggestions now, though not being a big horror or thriller reader, some of these are based on hearing what friends have said about books.


 Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Decided I should start with a book by the man himself. Coraline is a book perfect for children around 10ish, however I still found it creepy when I read it earlier this year! And there are loads more Gaiman books that I’m sure also fit the bill, both children and adults.





 Goosebumps series by R.L.Stine

I was never a massive fan of these growing up but my friends and siblings loved them and my teacher friend’s students read them now, so they are obviously still relevant! There’s also Point Horror too, the more teenage version of Goosebumps.

stephen king

 Stephen King novels

I’ve only ever read one, Dolores Claiborne, which I really liked but it definitely falls more under thriller than horror. For horror, classic King novels like Carrie, The Shining or IT should be perfect! And I really want to read Joyland by Stephen King, which according to GoodReads is a ‘whodunit noir crime novel and a haunting ghost story set in the world of an amusement park’. Sounds fantastic!

the children of men

 The Children of Men by J.D. James

Ok, I haven’t actually read this book but I’ve seen the film. And the film’s themes of a bleak, dystopian land creeped me out WAY more than a ‘typical’ horror or slasher film, so if the book has the same feeling of creepiness as the film, then this would probably give me the chills too!




woman in black

 The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Another book I haven’t read but I’m adding this because my cousin studied it in school and found it so creepy that she was a bit scared to go see the film adaptation of it!






 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

This follows the story of Jean-Baptise, born in 18th century French slums and his extraordinary scene of smell. This book creeped me out, Jean-Baptise gave me the heebee jeebees! Even thinking about it makes me shudder. I’ve seen one review call him a ‘smell vampire’, that he hunts down and must ‘own’ any scent he likes, regardless of the consequences, and this of course builds up to him having to have the scent of one young, beautiful virgin that drives him to distraction. A very unique book, I must read it again!



 NOS412 by Joe Hill

This book only came on my radar because 2 other friends read it and loved it. I can’t even describe the synopsis as well as GoodReads can, so check it out here. I will say the line that pops out and creeps me out the most is ‘Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2’. Shudder!



Classic gothic novels

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Dracula by Bram Stoker. Edgar Allen Poe. Sherlock Holmes and the Hounds of the Baskerville. As well as many more, all available for free as well on sites like Project Gutenberg.

Of course, the All Hallow’s Read website has loads more recommendations, even some by Neil Gaiman himself. And seeing as I’m not that well versed on these genres, what would you recommend yourself? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

(Slightly Geeky) YouTube Pick of the Week

I feel like it’s been forever since I did one of these! And I have a stack of videos piled up that I want to share. So, let’s begin!

Simon Pegg playing Drunk Ron Weasley, wishing Harry Potter a happy birthday? Tickles the geeky side of me!

Speaking of geeky side, I really enjoyed this Super Mario Brothers real life parkour video. It left me wanting to desperately play some SNES Super Mario games!

The music, along with the clips chosen, just cracks me up! Classic 80s montage! It’s worth watching even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, I think non fans can appreciate the humour too.

Perfect. Just perfect!

I read Divergent at the beginning of the year and really enjoyed it. I have yet to read Insurgent, but I think I’m going to wait to read it around the time the 3rd books, Allegiant, comes out, so I can read the two together. I really liked this teaser trailer, I’m looking forward to the film coming out!

Finally, amid all the news that Ben Affleck is to play Batman, I came across this Honest Trailer for Batman and Robin. I just love Honest Trailers, they hit the nail on the head every time!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Books I Own To Read

I have a lot of books marked in Goodreads as ‘to read’. I mark things that seem interesting. I then will see if it’s in the library and will mark it if it is. Anything else is fair game then when it comes to buying books. Sometimes I’ll go by what’s on the to read list that’s not in the library, sometimes I’ll browse sections in bookshops and see if something stands out. Others I rummage through books at second hand shops, to see if I can find something I like or vaguely want to read. And then of course sometimes I am gifted books. Which leads to a pretty big pile of books to read that I own. As I will show you below.


Pile One


Pile 2


Pile 3


Pile 4


Pile 5

That is the bulk of it! I do know there’s more, books that are still packed away from when I moved in 2011 and didn’t unpack. Some I’ve started but never finished. Others I’ve read bits and pieces (This mainly applies to A Gift for All Seasons for Camilla Morton). Some I have read but haven’t finished the series (I’ve read Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife but not the The Amber Spy Glass. But in order to read that last book, I’m going to have to reread the first two). Others are actually my aunt’s, which I have had for a long time! And I just spotted one book that shouldn’t be there (Catching Fire, it was swept into the pile as my boyfriend is currently reading it. But seeing as I want to reread it before the film comes out, I suppose it DOES deserve a place in the pile!).

Now, here’s where you come in handy. I want to know what books you’d recommend and why. And more importantly, which books should be avoided! Considering not all of them were bought by me, there are probably a handful which I might not read. And this pile doesn’t even take into consideration all the ebooks I have downloaded! If you’re interested in seeing that list, let me know below and I’ll make a post!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Reads

Argh, August is officially over! And that of course means my August Reads post, yay! Now, just a disclaimer. I’m writing this now on Thursday night and preposting it to publish today as I’m going to Manchester tomorrow. So there could be one more book that I’ve finished before August ends but more than likely not, as I’m living the book I’m currently reading at home as it’s a library book and I don’t want to lose it!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

life after life

I had seen a lot of hype around this book and I decided to read this book along with a book club I’m part of on Goodreads. However, everyone else wanted to read it as well so I by the time I got it in the library the read was over! Nonetheless, I decided I’d still read it. It tells the story of Ursula, who was born during a snowstorm in 1910 and died before her first breath. As well as the story of Ursula, the same baby who was born the same time but lived. The story shows how different choices, both your own and those around you, can affect your life and the outcome. Every time Ursula dies, she is reborn but with certain subconscious memories of her former lives, a deja vu she comes to understand more. A lot of the story of Ursula’s adult life is set during World War 2, which I enjoyed as I like stories set then. I know some people have issues with the constant retelling of certain parts of her life but with twists, I didn’t mind that so much. If you don’t like stories that jump around a bit, then you probably won’t enjoy this.

The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs

guinea pig diaries

I picked up this book by A.J. Jacobs as I had enjoyed two of his previous books (The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All). In this book, the author has separated out each chapter with an experiment he’s undertaken in his life. One month he outsources all his work to a team in India, where they answer his emails, do research for his work and even argue with his wife. Another month, he partakes in Radical Honesty, which is basically saying whatever is on your mind and not filtering it. He sneaks into Academy Awards, pretending to be someone else, to see what the life of the famous is like. And he also spends a month doing whatever his wife wants him too! It’s an interesting fast read, not my favourite of his (That goes to The Year of Living Biblically) but it’s still a worthwhile read if you like books like this.

My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

my fair lazy

This is the forth book by Jen Lancaster I’ve read. In this, she hopes for cultural enlightenment while broadening her mind and activities past just watching reality TV. So Jen tries plays, the opera, wine tasting and a cooking course, amongst other things, making her a modern day Eliza Doolittle. Of course, once a reality TV lover, always one, so things do take some adjusting. I liked the book, I have 2 more of her memoirs to go until I’m caught up. I’m really looking forward to the latest one, The Tao of Martha, as it sounds funny and interesting.


The Sweet Life #1 (Sweet Valley Confidential) by Francine Pascal

the sweet life

I was a massive Sweet Valley fan growing up. Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, The Unicorn Club, Elizabeth special series, the special editions like diaries that came along with the SVH series, everything! And of course Sweet Valley Confidential when it came out in 2011. So I decided to give this a go. It’s a short novella, first of a series of six, that follows the lives of the twins while in their 30s. I won’t give anything away, in case you haven’t read SVC yet. It’s nothing mind blowing but if you enjoyed the series while growing up, you might enjoy this too. At the very least, even if you don’t enjoy this, it’s a short read so it’s a good thing if you’re not sure if you want to commit to the whole thing. But I def recommend you read SVC first. Or at least get a synopsis!

Six Feet Over by Mary Roach

six feet over

I was delighted that my library bought this in at my request, as it’s the only book by Mary Roach that I hadn’t already read. It follows Mary on a journey of trying to discover if there is or isn’t life after death. She meets with a vast array of different people (engineers, scientists, mediums) and discusses the different methods that have been tried throughout history to prove or disprove this idea. I did enjoy it but it’s probably my least favourite of Mary’s books, purely because the other subjects fascinated me more (a journey through the alimentary canal, the research and complexities of life while in space, the different scientific researches, studies and experts in the field of studying sex, and finally the many different uses for a dead body).

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

fahrenheit 451  Fahrenheit 451 is a short, dystopian style novel. In it, firemen are people who burn books and the houses in which they have been hidden, which have been banned due to making people unhappy. Instead, people are encouraged to live fast and loose, without ever questioning or pondering on things. Guy Montag has been happy in his job as a fireman for the past 10 years, until he meets an odd seventeen year old girl who makes him think for himself and question how good this way of life really is. In the book, you follow Guy’s journey of as he questions his life. The book has stunning writing and descriptions, you just want to drink them in. A short but very enjoyable novel (and I love this cover! Usually I pick the cover to go along with the book I’ve read but I just loved this cover so much).

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel

the astronaut wives club

The year is 1959 and NASA have chosen their first seven astronauts, The Mercury Seven. Overnight they become celebrities, along with their wives, partly due to Life magazines coverage and interviews with the astronauts and their wives. Over time the club expands, due to more astronauts being added to programmes. The wives had to deal with not only their husbands being away, but also the unknown dangers of their husbands being shot into space, all while putting on a brave face in front of the cameras, being the perfect housewife, making sure their husbands weren’t stressed while they were home and having to deal with the ‘Cape Cookies’, the astronaut groupies. Some of the wives turn a blind eye, others don’t. The book shows the bonds between the women, how they helped each other through tough times and bandied around each other. It’s a great in sight, you get to read about all the different families, like the Armstrongs, the Aldrins, the Collins’ (I always feel bad when Michael Collins is forgotten for the part he played while going to the mood. It must have been tough to be the one who had to stay in orbit around the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin made history while talking on it) and the Glenns (while I may not have seen John Glenn go up in space during the 1960s, I do remember seeing him fly in 1998, at the ripe age of 77!) as well as all the other families you may not have heard of. An interesting memoir and I loved the photos in the book too.

Them: An Adventure with Extremists by Jon Ronson


Since reading The Psychopath Test (in June) and Lost at Sea (in July), I was really looking forward to reading this book by Jon Ronson. He’s fast become a favourite of mine and this one didn’t disappoint. In it, it shows Ronson while he interviews and follows different people with extreme ideas and ways of living. Like Omar, the Islamic fundamentalist who lives in London, the leader of the KKK, the man who believes that those that rule the world descend from reptiles, Dr Ian Paisley, amongst others. The main theme that kept coming back to Ronson from most of these people is that a secret group, called the Bilderberg Group, consists of CEOs of companies, politicians as well as other influential people, who meet once a year to decide on all sorts of things. So Ronson also tries to get to the bottom of who this group are. Partly dangerous at times, considering Ronson is Jewish and a lot of the people have strong views on Jewish people (including that they rule the world), it was a fascinating read that delves almost on the conspiracy side of things. I’m looking forward now to reading another book of his.

Latte of Cappuccino?: 125 Decisions That Will Save Your Life by Hilly Janes

latte or cappuccino

This book follows a typical day in the life of a working Western person and debates between some of the mundane choices you are dealt with. Like whether to order a latte of a cappuccino, regular or whitening toothpaste, walk or cycle to work, and other food, lifestyle and child advice. I read it quickly, partly because I skipped a section (I don’t have a child) and always because I knew a lot of this. The author backs up some of the decisions with science, others with logic. There are some handy resources too, especially if you are looking at having a more healthy diet or becoming more active. Overall though, if you have your life pretty much together, you’ll know a lot of this.

August Stats

Number of books read- 9
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 3:6
Number of eBooks- 2 (My Fair Lazy and The Sweet Life)
Number of books borrowed from library- 7
Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 0

And that’s it! At least, it should be, if I haven’t already finished something after writing this!

January’s Reads

February’s Reads

March Reads

April’s Reads

May’s Reads

June’s Reads

July’s Reads

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