Women’s Prize Predictions

The long list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction is being announced at midnight, and so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with a few predictions of what might be on it! I’ve never been a massive follower of literary prizes, however I’d really like to follow this year’s Women’s Prime. For that reason, I don’t have a heap of predictions, but I thought I’d make a few guesses as to what could be there!

Firstly, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was such a wonderful read (I know I keep harping on about it!) and I’ll be devastated if it doesn’t make the list. Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere is a recent purchase for me, so not one I’ve read yet, but I’ve heard very good things about it! There’s a lot of buzz about this one, especially now that Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington have announced a TV adaptation. Both Winter by Ali Smith and Tinman by Sarah Winman were not favourite reads for me, however I appreciated their literary finesse and style, so think they have a good shot at making it. Another recent release is Joanna Cannon’s Three Things About Elsie which while I didn’t enjoy as much as her debut (The Trouble With Goats and Sheep), I’ve still seen many people rave about – so that could have a shot as well!

Regardless, I’ll be staying up waiting for the list to be released – I can’t wait to see what’s on it and get some new titles to add to my TBR.

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Femmeuary Cosy Reading Night

Tonight is Femmeuary Cosy Reading Night run by LaurenAndTheBooks (link to her video here) which runs between the hours of 7pm and 10pm GMT (so I’m cutting it fine with this post!). I’m away with work this week, so what better excuse to snuggle up with some books in my hotel room! I’ve got a few different options lined up, and I’m not quite sure what I’ll go with yet!

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester. I haven’t heard a lot about this book, but I saw it on display at Waterstones in a section about women’s suffrage. It’s about a trapeze artist suffragette, who ends up going missing. Apart from that I don’t know much, but sounds perfect for Femmeuary Cosy Reading Night!

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. This one should need little explanation. I absolutely love the films, but when I read the book when I was younger I remember not enjoying it. I think the problem was that I was too young, so I’m keen to give it another go. This version is introduced by Caitlin Moran, so that gets Femmeuary plus points!

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This is another really well known book, and one that I didn’t think would be for me, until I saw it mentioned somewhere and was intrigued by the plot. I think this follows a group of students who kill one of their group of friends, and then we follow the story from there. I’m intrigued!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I’ve been meaning to read some work by one of the Bronte sisters for ages (I have Jane Eyre sitting unread on my shelves…* embarrassed emoji *), and this edition of Wuthering Heights is absolutely beautiful.

Snack wise, I’m planning on eating dinner before hand, so not planning on eating much! But definitely will be having some berry tea…how cute is this teapot from T2?!

Will you be participating? What will you be reading?

Five Star Read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I’ve raved about this book enough on this blog, but I really felt Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman deserved its own dedicated blog post.

I was really sceptical of picking this up — I’m not really sure why, but I just wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. The real thing that pushed me to pick it up was when it won a Costa Book Award, which is odd because as I’ve written on here I’m not the biggest follower of book prizes. Anyway, I am SO glad I read this, as I think it might be my favourite book of the year, and definitely one of my favourite ever reads!

Basically, I listen a lot to BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read, and when I’m listening I often think about what book I would pick if I was ever on that show (LOL). Previously, my pick for A Good Read would be Wild by Cheryl Strayed or Homegoing by Yaa Gysai, but now I think Eleanor Oliphant may have knocked those two to the side. Seriously, it’s that good!

This book follows the story of Eleanor, who is struggling to cope with events from her past. As a coping mechanism she follows a strict routine of going to work during the week, and drinking two bottles of vodka on the weekend. Then she is involved in saving a man’s life with a colleague, and her life as she knows it begins to change.

This book was so sweet, so beautifully written, and the character of Eleanor was so wonderfully developed. She is such a real character, and I really wish I could be friends with her. She’s a character that has really stuck with me, so if you enjoy character development, this is one to try! I started off a bit unsure of Eleanor, but she grew on me as the novel progressed!

A couple of weeks ago my book club did a ‘book swap’ where each person had to put forward a book they had recently read and loved and this was my pick. This is one of those books that I think a lot of people would love and as a bonus it is now out in paperback!

It is also worth mentioning that Gail Honeyman is doing an event with Sarah Winman in Glasgow on the 18th March as part of The Aye Write festival, which I’m going to! You can get tickets here if you’re interested!

What’s In My Makeup Bag…

A bit of a different post here on the blog, but I’m loving my current makeup line up and wanted to share it! I’ve been using these bits everyday, and honestly I’m so happy with them and can’t see my routine changing up anytime soon…

Base It Cosmetics CC Cream in Light. Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the issues with this brand and this product in particular with a lack of shade ranges. Brands need to be better at catering for all skin colours, and it’s not acceptable when they don’t. But, personally, I really like this product and for me it has totally lived up to the hype! It’s a really nice coverage (I’m used to a medium to full coverage and I don’t feel that the coverage is too light), but the formula doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. It doesn’t have the same lasting power as Estée Lauder Double Wear (my other fave), but with the right application it can be fairly long lasting.

Eyes Nars Duo in Isolde and Charlotte Tilbury Palette in Dolce Vita. For my eyes I’ve been using either one or the other of these palettes. I use the Nars one daily for work etc, and the Charlotte Tilbury for going out in the evenings. I think I probably prefer the formula of the Nars shadows, and they are the most long lasting shadow I’ve ever used. I then finish off with the Lancôme Grandiose Mascara which is pretty fab. Gives nice full lashes, not too clumpy.

Cheeks Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow. I only recently got this, but it’s quickly cemented it’s place in my everyday makeup bag. The shade of bronze is perfect for my skin, and the highlighter is beautiful. I’ve been skipping blusher more and more recently and just using this on my cheeks!

February Most Anticipated

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

This month is Femmeuary as hosted by LaurenAndTheBooks (announcement video here) and in celebration I want to read books about different types of women. One of the things I want to focus on this month is females as villains – how are women written about and portrayed when they’re not the hero? I’m planning on reading a trio of books that loosely cover this subject; See What I’ve Done by Sarah Schmidt, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and Hydra by Matt Wesolowski.

The one that I’m most excited for is See What I’ve Done a reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murders. This book is so highly praised, and has been sitting on my shelf calling me since I purchased it! I don’t know very much about it, but I promise to check back in with a review once I’ve finished it!

January Wrap Up

As promised…here’s what I read in January!

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss. I was really excited to read this book having seen it raved about by Lauren from Lauren and the Books and having heard it compared to The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, however this one just wasn’t for me. This book follows Moss and her family while they move to Iceland during the recession. I did think it was beautifully written, however I think it lacked some of the more personal elements at times and read as more of a commentary on Iceland, which just wasn’t to my personal taste.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. Ah this is a tricky one. I think I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads, but in all honesty it was probably more like a 3.75 if that exists! I read this on the plane back from NZ (it’s a looooong journey!) and I was definitely engrossed in it. I thought the story was incredibly clever, and for the most part I enjoyed the twists and turns. I think where this fell down for me was the ending – the story was really slow burning with a lot of set up, and the end just felt a bit rushed to me. I also couldn’t help but compare it to The Night Watch also by Sarah Waters which I read last year and had much more impact on me. I guess I felt a little underwhelmed by Fingersmith as it was a lot more hyped up (for me at least) than The Night Watch. That being said, I did enjoy the story and flew through it which is always good! Fingersmith is historical fiction set in the 1800s, and follows two young girls from different backgrounds whose lives become intertwined.

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon. I am a bit loathe to write this review because I loved The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon and also follow her on twitter and think she’s such an inspiring boss as woman, however I just didn’t like Three Things. I actually ordered this the day it was released for same day delivery, and really thought I was gonna love it! Three Things follows Florence, an elderly lady who is lying on her kitchen floor after a fall and thinking about her life. The story flashes back to when a new resident joined her nursing home, who Florence has strong suspicions about, but no one believes her except her friend Elsie. The problem I had with this book is I felt it was just too slow for me. While Goats and Sheep was slow, with little nuggets being released along the way, there was enough to keep me interested in the story, which there just wasn’t here. That being said, I did love the character of Florence and her friendship with Elsie.

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski. I listened to this on audiobook and would absolutely recommend downloading this if you’re into audiobooks! Six Stories is a book written as a podcast, following the success of Serial. It’s a true crime podcast, which looks at unsolved cases from the past, and the host Scott King interviews six people who were involved at the time (hence six stories). In Six Stories, King looks at disappearance of teenager Tom Jefferies, who disappeared one night while on a camping weekend and his body was subsequently found a year later. He interviews each of the people who were there that weekend, and tries to paint a picture of what really happened. I thought this book worked really well in audio (though I’ve heard great reviews of the written version as well!) as it was told by a full cast, and really felt like you were listening to a podcast. I ended up only giving this four stars because I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, but on the whole really enjoyed this!

Lullaby by Leila Slimani. This book has been doing the rounds on the internet and there’s been a lot of hype about it. It follows the story of a family who hire a nanny, who ends up killing the children she’s hired to care for. It’s a look at how society views women and their role in childcare and child rearing. Personally, I didn’t love this. I didn’t hate it either, it was just a bit meh for me.

Winter by Ali Smith. I have seen a lot of people absolutely love this book, but I just don’t think Ali Smith is for me. I did like some of the themes and topics discussed, but the writing was just too styled for me and I really struggled with this.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. This is another audiobook I listened to, and for a crime thriller I thought this was pretty good! I read a lot of this genre, so am a harsh critic, but I did enjoy this one. Then She Was Gone is centred around Laurel, whose daughter Ellie disappeared when she was fifteen. It flits back and forth between past and present day, as we start to piece together what happened to Ellie, and as Laurel begins to finally move on with her life. If you’re into easy crime thrillers this one is definitely worth checking out!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This book was absolutely magical. I loved this so so much and think it will be hard to beat for best book of 2018 (and yes I know that’s a big call given how early in the year it is!). I’m going to do an in depth review of this book, but I’d highly encourage anyone and everyone to read it!

Where I’ve been…and my favourite book of January

Well well well, the last I posted on here I harped on about how keen I was to start blogging again…and then life happened. I was dealing with a pretty big life crisis that has no place on the internet, but now I’m back, all fine, and ready to get stuck in again!

In order to facilitate regular updates this year, I’m going to aim for two posts per week – Sunday’s and Wednesday’s. Look out for my Jan wrap up coming this Sunday, and my Feb most anticipated coming on Wednesday next week! I never did a Jan most anticipated, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about my favourite book that I read in January — Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine by Gail Honeyman.

Excuse the above pic (snapped on the train down to London this morning), but this will be hard to beat for my fave book of 2018 (and it’s only January!). I was quite sceptical going into this book, because I’d heard a lot of hype about it but I wasn’t sure it was going to be up my street. I’d heard it compared to Tinman by Sarah Winman, which while I appreciated as a beautifully written book, just wasn’t for me. However I am SO glad I picked this one up!

I don’t want to write too much about the plot, because I think part of the beauty of this book is going in not knowing much, but briefly it follows Eleanor who has a strict routine as a way of coping with a traumatic past. What happens when her routine starts to change is truely magical…go out and get this now! It’s touching, sweet, and incredibly readable. One of the things I loved about this book is that it is beautifully written, but still incredibly accessible.

In terms of other life updates, the top pic on this post is a snap from a recent trip back home to NZ. I’m not sure if I’ve previously spoken about the fact I’m originally from NZ on this blog before (a future post perhaps?) but over Christmas and New Year I was fortunate enough to get to go back. I had an amazing trip travelling around with my boyfriend, visiting friends and catching up with family! As I say, I’ll maybe do a seperate post about New Zealand, but for now here’s a few more pictures from the trip!

Hope 2018 is treating you well so far!