Monday, 17 February 2014

GUEST POST: Amy's Top 5 Books

Hello! Today I have a little treat for you in the form of a guest post by the lovely Amy Peet, from over at Amy's Notebook. She has written a rundown of her top 5 favourite books right now, and on her blog today is a guest music post by myself sharing what's on my playlist at the moment, so head over there too! Here's Amy's post; enjoy...

Sophie has kindly requested me to write a guest post for her blog and as she is always doing such great reviews, I decided that for my guest post I would review my top 5 books! Reading is a passion of mine as is music for Sophie, so for this post, I will be generating all my passion into short reviewing each book. 

“The Fault in Our Stars” John Green

TFiOS is a teen/young adult novel written by the multi-talented author John Green. TFiOS is an emotional story, about a 16 year old girl named Hazel who is suffering from thyroid cancer, and a 16 year old boy named Gus, with osteosarcoma cancer. The story follows the life of the two cancer patients and we shed multiple tears over their story in so many ways. We experience, life, death, heartache, happiness, fear and so many other emotions throughout the 336 pages in the book, but most importantly we experience love. It may sound cliché, but the love shared between Augustus Waters and Hazel-Grace Lancaster is so rich and pure, it’s indescribably loveable.

Quote: "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labour has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

“Paper Aeroplanes” – Dawn O’Porter

P.A is yet another teen/young adult novel written by the ever so beautiful Dawn O’Porter. Paper Aeroplanes is a story about two 15 year old Guernsey schoolgirls in the mid-1990s. Flo and Renee share an unlikely friendship. In certain circumstances, opposites attract and that is exactly how it’s run with Flo and Renee. Flo is the studious, thoughtful type, whereas Renee is outgoing, ambiguous and sexually curious. With two very different home lives, it’s all a surprise when Flo and Renee become incredible best friends. Despite their very different lives, the two girls are bonded by their shared loneliness and dysfunctional home life. It’s not a story unless obstacles are thrown in the way; in this case it is namely Flo's jealous ex-best friend and Renee's growing infatuation with Flo's brother. With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, P.A is a honest interpretation, laugh-out-loud funny and powerfully female novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence, and the power behind an unlikely friendship.

Quote: “What's the point in worrying about the future? Who says there will even be a future? What happens if you die tomorrow and all you ever did was sit in maths classes and play the clarinet and moan about your family? What good is the future to you then?”

“Before I Die” – Jenny Downham

I may only be half way through this book at the moment, but I have seen the film adaptation ‘Now is Good’ and although film adaptations tend to ruin the story quite so often, it’s fair to say I have a pretty good idea on how it goes.
Young Tessa is a teenage sufferer of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and after battling with chemotherapy for 4 years, she is now told her life is coming to an end. After coming terms with the situation reasonably well, Tessa creates a list of things to do before she dies including some very risky behaviour for her health. Alongside her best friend Zoey and recent love interest Adam, Tessa carries out her bucket list marking off each activity as she goes along. Once Zoey is resulted with a positive pregnancy test, Tessa makes it her wish to out-live her expectancy to see the baby born before she dies. With an overprotective father and a younger brother Cal who doesn’t quite understand, Tessa lives the life she has to the fullest never wasting a moment, battling cancer, life and love.

Quote: “There's a terrible stillness. I notice a small tear in the wallpaper above her shoulder. I notice finger marks grimed on the light switch. Somewhere down in the house, a door opens and shuts. As Zoey turns to face me, I realize that life is made up of a series of moments, each one a journey to the end.”

“Looking for Alaska” – John Green

Another teen/young adult novel by John Green is ‘Looking for Alaska’. Miles Halter aka ‘Pudge’ starts a new year at Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama, where he meets new best friends The Colonel and instant love interest Alaska. Alaska Young, the wild, moody, unpredictable, beautiful and enigmatic girl that Miles Halter can’t help but fall for. With an obsessed for smoking and uncountable quirks, Miles finds himself oaring over Alaska, despite her constant attempts to set him up with Romanian friend Lara. During the book, Miles expresses his love for famous last words adding to his many quirks. After setting up the schools best prank ever, the unexpected turns as Alaska involves herself in a car accident causing the worst to happen. Miles and The Colonel are devastated, and spend the rest of the school term trying to fix life up for Alaska, and also trying to work out why she did what she did. Why was she so angry? Why did she drink so much? Why didn’t they stop her? Why did she have to go?

Quote: “What is an "instant" death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

“Dear John” – Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is known for his many romantic novels and yes ‘Dear John’ is another one. It’s often known for the film adaptation but to be quite frank with you, ‘Dear John’ is a much better book. Savannah and John share a beautiful relationship after bumping into each other on the beach. Despite John’s work with the army, Savannah and John do all their best to keep their romance blooming overseas through uncountable amount of letters to and from each other. When John’s father dies, he returns home to mourn his loss and grieving arguments with Savannah take place. No story is complete without a disruption, and when Savannah becomes tired of the constant distance between herself and John and the infrequent visits home, she decides to move on with her life. Savannah remarries a family friend who is soon to die, leaving Savannah alone again. John later returns home where they meet for the first time since. 

Quote: “And when her lips met mine, I knew that I could live to be a hundred and visit every country in the world, but nothing would ever compare to that single moment when I first kissed the girl of my dreams and knew that my love would last forever.”

So that’s 5 of my favourite books! Have you read any?

Written by Amy Peet

Friday, 14 February 2014

Live Review: Newton Faulkner supported by Sam Brookes

Hello there, and welcome to my second gig review of the week! I have quite the jam packed schedule at the moment in terms of live music, with Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club still to come next month! Excited. 

I actually saw Newton Faulkner back in October 2012, also at the 02 Academy in Newcastle; my cousin Mathew is a huge fan, so when the tour for his new album 'Studio Zoo' were released, I was expecting a text saying that we had tickets! I'm not strictly a massive fan of Newton's...I have all the albums and do listen to them now and then, but would never have gone to see him live if Mathew hadn't wanted to. However, saying that, he is definitely one of the best acts I've ever seen live, and thanks to 02 Priority, we got to be in the front row for the second time!

If you're familiar with Newton's music, you will know that he pushes the boundaries of what is possible when playing the guitar, and uses his incredible technical ability to create sounds and melodies that you can barely believe are coming from just one man! He uses the guitar as both a percussion and string instrument, providing booming rhythm and basslines from thudding the guitar in various places, and even changes the tuning of strings during some songs! The mind boggles. I think I prefer seeing him live because that's the only way you can witness the full impact of the genius of his guitar playing and effortless vocals, as well as his endearing and witty personality (I love the fact he makes cups of tea between songs!).

Also, in a rare occasion, Newton had some people accompanying him on stage! There was Beth Porter on the cello, support act Sam Brookes on guitar, bass and backing vocals (more on him later), and brother Toby Faulkner on vocals too. They didn't join in with every song, but having a group feel to certain numbers really lifted the whole show and, in my opinion, improved it from last year. 

There was a mix of tracks from each of Newton's 4 albums, with most being from his newest one, 'Studio Zoo', but also the big numbers he's probably most well known for such as 'Dream Catch Me', 'Teardrop', 'Clouds' and 'Write It On Your Skin', which was my personal highlight of the night! He always drops some unexpected covers in there too, and, not to spoil it for anyone seeing him soon, his rendition of a certain Justin Timberlake tune is both brilliant and hilarious. 

As previously mentioned, the support act was Sam Brookes, who definitely deserves a mention. When he walked on stage and started with a beautiful love song (the name of which I'm not sure of!), you could hear a pin drop as everyone in the venue was enchanted by his dreamy vocals and Newton-esque guitar playing. We even met him after the show to buy his album 'Kairos' and get our tickets signed! Support acts are really bringing it lately!

Sam Brookes
A brilliant performance all round, and someone I would definitely recommend seeing live!

Are you a fan of Newton Faulkner or Sam Brookes?

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The 1975: Gig and Album Review

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Hello there!

I've actually been meaning to write a review of The 1975's self titled debut album for a while now, but after booking tickets to see them live I thought I'd wait to include my thoughts from the gig too!

The 1975 first came onto my radar last summer, when their big singles 'Chocolate' and 'Sex' seemed inescapable! It felt like they shot to stardom overnight, especially when their album was released back in September and went straight to number 1 in the UK album chart. 

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This album was like nothing I have ever heard before; a little bit 80s (saxophone solo, anyone?), a little bit the indie of the 90s, and the rest melancholy electronica (XX-ish), the 1975 use a mix of sounds and influence to create something that is, to me, thoroughly new. From the dubstep beat of 'The City' all the way to the beautiful yet warped piano ballad 'Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You', this album fits perfectly together to make something that I just cannot stop listening to. 

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My favourite of the bunch is most definitely 'Talk!'; it's a cacophony of off-beat drums, atmospheric sound effects, wandering bassline and high pitched guitar strums, with lead singer Matt Healy's dreamy but angsty voice and relatable lyrics over the top. Just so cool. A close second is 'Heart Out', with a middle 8 to die for and the most cliche yet totally necessary saxophone solo I've heard in a while. My other personal highlights of the album are 'Settle Down', 'Sex' and 'Pressure', but to be honest, it's all pretty darn good.

On to the gig!

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I managed to get tickets to their sell-out show at the 02 Academy in Newcastle, Matt Healy's home town! And in homage to that, the lead singer wore the Toon Army black and white stripes (this caused some booing, which was immediately quashed!). The sound balance was all wrong at first and you couldn't hear the vocals at all, which got me in a panic! But it got sorted pretty quickly, and the show was a cracking one, playing most of the album as well as earlier tunes from their EPs. I wasn't sure what to expect of the band live, but they absolutely brought the songs to life, taking them from fairly easy listening to a really stage-worthy sound. 

The 1975 are big on visuals too, and that had a huge impact on the show; they've created a whole aesthetic around the band, with black and white imagery, grungy androgynous style and old school lighting that really brought the feel of the gig together. 

(There was also one support act that I feel I just have to mention; I'd never heard of Wolf Alice before Monday, but I'm definitely their newest fan! I recommend you all listen to them. Immediately.)

Here's a final gratuitous image of the rather beautiful Matt Healy.

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Probably the coolest guy in music right now.

Are you a fan of The 1975?

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

My Trend Report for Jewellery Moments!

Hello everyone!

Just a brief post to say that I have written a SS14 Trend Report blog post for the website Jewellery Moments outlining the key trends of the new season and which catwalks they were seen on, and it would be amazing if you could give it a read!

Simply click this link!

Jewellery Moments is a website ran by the lovely Alice Thompson selling all manners of bespoke, unique handmade jewellery, and her new collection for the summer will be launching in a few weeks, so get yourselves there!



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Emma Watson for Wonderland

Very brief post today, just wanted to share what's floating my boat at the moment.

You've probably already came across the images of Emma Watson's covers for Wonderland magazine, out on February 7th, which she also guest edited. Is there no end to that girl's talents? Actress, model, and now editor. She's one of my favourites, as shown by my love of her Golden Globes style in this post.

The covers are in a super saturated sunset palette of oranges and yellows, with Emma looking dewy faced whilst sporting those incredible brows and dark smokey eyes. In one image, she is a Dolce and Gabbana princess, crown and all, and in the other is chanelling a demure, ladylike vision of Prada.

She is insanely beautiful. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!


Monday, 27 January 2014

Couture SS14 // Valentino's Fairytale Opera

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You may have noticed all the extravagance and glamour of Couture Fashion Week occurring recently; I haven't had time to fully examine all the shows, but the genius that is Valentino most definitely caught my attention, so I thought I'd share my favourite bits with you. I know, I only just spouted about my adoration for them and their SS14 ready to wear show in this post, but I couldn't not talk about this incredible collection!

The location and runway were transformed into a forest wonderland, with deer and butterflies scattered across the walls to set the scene. And the dresses? Mesmerising. Some were slinky plain fabric, draped exquisitely, some were delicate layers of ballerina-style tulle with frills and embellished snakes and peacocks entwined about the body, and others were sheer lacy ballgowns embroidered with various wildlife. The dewy, fresh-faced models were like fairytale princesses in an earthy palette of browns, blacks and mossy green; simply beautiful.

Sexy and feminine, yet girlish and magical. There's something about those 3D butterflies across the decolletage and a transparent skirt printed with a music staff that got my heart racing.

Thank you, St. Valentino.

Images of the runway from the Vogue website; see the full collection and show report here.

What were your favourite couture week moments?


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Golden Globes 2014

Hello! Just a quick post with my favourite looks from the Golden Globes the other night. You've probably seen these a million times already but hey, I wanted to pick what I thought were the best of the bunch.

Emma Watson, you beauty. This caused stirs of 'what was she wearing?' but I absolutely adore her completely backless, postbox red Dior dress paired with those skinny black cigarette trousers. Fricking divine. Looks so effortlessly elegant from the front, and yet so effortlessly sexy from the back. She kept the makeup simple, with a sleek bun, red lips, and those excellent brows. I could literally look at her face all day long. Great, unique choice, Emma. My top outfit of the night!

Some others I liked...

The ridiculously beautiful Jessica Chastain, bringing it once again with a simple black strapless Givenchy number, classic pearl necklace and those flaming orange curls. She's always a winner.

Cate Blanchett, winner of Best Actress, looking exquisite as always in an intricate black lace Armani dress.

Kaley Cuoco, from my (probably) favourite ever TV show, The Big Bang Theory, in Rani Zakhem. Not 100% convinced on the slicked over hair, but love the bustier shaping and dreamy watercolour florals of the dress. Nice.

Brilliant actress Lizzy Caplan in Emilio Pucci: I love the shape of the neckline, the geometric clutch bag, the futuristic-yet-medieval sleeves...basically, it's all good.

And to finish off, it's Emma Watson again! Yep, she's so awesome she decided to change into another show-stopping outfit for the after party, making her my double favourite of the night!

Here, Emma wear a stunning gothic floral dress with sheer mesh panels from Theory. Just, wow. She's definitely becoming a style icon, and one of my inspirations.

So there you have it! 
What were your favourite red carpet looks from the Golden Globes? 
Let me know!

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Dane DaHaan for Prada SS14

An intriguing little story popped up on the Vogue email newsletter today: 27 year old actor Dane DeHaan is the new face for Prada's SS14 menswear campaign.

You may recognise him from the brilliant superpower film Chronicle, western Lawless, the controversial Kill Your Darlings or as Gosling's offspring in the emotional The Place Beyond The Pines, but now he has Prada model to add to his already fairly excellent career. I think Dane is one of those actors that you always recognise his face, but can't really place him, and are surprised when you realised how much he has been in! I've always thought he was interestingly beautiful, and he looks great in Prada's gorgeous new collection, which I already raved about in an earlier blog post here. 

I just love those floral sweatshirts! A very cool new campaign. Roll on SS14!

What do you think of Prada's new face?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy 2014!

Hello lovely people, and Happy New Year!!

I haven't posted in what seems like forever, but the past month or so has been crazily busy in the best kind of way.

So I thought I'd do a little New Year's post just to get 2014 off to a good start!

2013 has probably been both my best and worst year so far. The first half of this year, I was feeling pretty lonely, confused about what I wanted to do and whether I was getting any closer to achieving whatever that was. I reached the heaviest weight I've ever been and just generally felt really low.

Then, I decided I needed a change. I went on a brilliant holiday in July with my best friend, and once I got back, finally went through with dyeing my hair! Sounds a bit daft, but after being blonde for my entire life, becoming brunette was quite a change! Then, all kinds of great stuff started happening. 

I got the position of fashion blogger at beautiful handmade jewellery website Jewellery Moments, which lead to me attending Durham Fashion Week, as well as starting my internship at the brilliant digital web agency Digitia; both are incredibly exciting experiences that have finally gave me some faith in myself! I have also lost a stone and a half in the past few months and dropped a dress size simply thanks to a more positive attitude: sounds like a shallow achievement but it has made me a LOT more comfortable with myself, and encouraged me to keep going and lose even more!

Best of all, I met my beautiful and amazingly talented boyfriend, JamesWho knew that even after witnessing my ridiculously awkward dancing on a night out, someone might actually be interested? We've now been together almost 4 months, had an incredible trip to Edinburgh, and spent New Years Eve watching fireworks in Newcastle, and I can safely say that he has made me happier than I ever expected to be! (I know, I know, pass the bucket. But I assure you, it's true.)

So here's to 2014. I have a feeling it is going to be the most exciting year yet....

How did you celebrate the New Year? What are your highlights of 2013?