I love a gripping page turner that completely sucks you into the story and so I loved The Miniaturist. Jessie Burton made me feel I was actually in 17th century Amsterdam, wrapped in fog, damp and intrigue. She has obviously done a tonne of research.
In this book, no one is quite what they seem and the reader discovers this along with Nella as she grows and matures, learning to fight for her place in a wealthy, and sometimes dangerous, town. But who is The Miniaturist, and why do these tiny little parcels keep turning up? AND WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Even by the end, I’m not entirely sure.
A lot of the story does need to be taken on trust and not a lot is explained but I like to think this is to plunge the reader to the same depths as Nella ie. completely out of it and not allowed under the surface, which is frustrating at times but then it is for the character too.There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot which are prime for more emotional scenes, prime for more character layer revelations than there actually are but, I wanted to find out more.
I did care about the characters and what was going to happen to them. I did stay up till midnight furiously reading the last bit and I did feel that loss you feel when you finish a book that has taken over your brain for a bit and suddenly, you can’t slip into that world anymore because the story is over.
An intriguing page turner that lets you escape to another time and place completely. If you’re a fan of historical novels, or not, it’s a gripping read although, I’d have liked more onion peeling of characters to get to their core. Looking forward to the next one, Jessie!
While I now double cleanse and hydra mist religiously twice a day, I have left the mask department alone – save smothering my face with Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm when the need arises. I don’t have a good track record with masks.
At 14, I slathered my face with the contents of those little sachets from high street drug stores that have ladies with their faces covered in fruit on the packet. Back then, my approach to skin care was like my approach to medicine – if it doesn’t taste gross/hurt, it’s not working. This is possibly why I have sensitive skin now. Fast forward a few years (fine, a good few) and there was the Disappearing Mask Incident at a spa. Every time the therapist applied a thick layer of gunk and turned away, my skin ate it. This happened four times before the therapist realized she wasn’t going bonkers and was dealing with a seriously thirsty face. Since then, I’ve left the mask department alone and concentrated on getting my skin to hold onto its moisture without draining the nearest pot of product it sees.
Anyone who buys skincare from Ren will know that they offer 2 free mini products with your purchase (plus other brilliant things like 10% off your favourite product for life, which you can change every 6 months, and points- which obviously mean prizes of a Ren description) and I selected a trial size of this mask as one of my two. A long time has passed since the Disappearing Mask Incident and my skin is much improved now I follow a proper routine and read the ingredients on the packet of what I am putting on my face. Still, a history of bad mask incidents left me a bit nervous about trying the Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. Lactic means acid and acid means peeling and red and sore, right?
Not in this case. The mask is thick and honey orange and viscous enough to stay on top of my skin. It smells a bit like Haliborange tablets taste and tingles a little bit but doesn’t exactly hurt. After 10 minutes (read a magazine, clean the bathroom, whatever you like but time it, please) you wipe the mask away with a damp cloth, rinse and reveal a face that looks like yours but a little bit better. My skin was plumper and more even. The spot/spot scar issues around my mouth and chin were not red and less noticeable. In short, I like…and I’ll probably be back for more.
Buy yours here.
If you are looking for an easy read, this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a challenging read -wonderfully written but hard- that will take you completely into someone else’s life (also hard), then this is one for you. It’s less of a book and more of a reading experience, and an intense one at that.
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is bleakly beautiful. Eimear McBride take you right into the main character’s head from the start, surrounded by her thoughts, feelings and point of view. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to but suddenly, the words make sense as you get accustomed to the style. If you’re looking for description and happy endings, forget it. It’s more involved than that. Here is a new way to create a person and build the world they live in.
It’s not an easy read emotionally either. The narrative is fragmented and unfinished and raw. Abandonment, neglect, illness, sexual abuse and death all swirl together (I never said it was fun, I said it was good). Set in Ireland, the Irishness permeates the text and gives it a cultural anchor. McBride unfolds everything that living in a small Catholic community is, especially how where you come from affects who you are.
I don’t usually like books that critics like but this one seems to be the exception! It’s probably not one for the sun lounger but if you are looking for something different and are bored of cookie cutter characters and endings, get it. I’m looking forward to seeing what Eimear McBride does next…
I sat down to write about this book and started several times before I realized…this is a book that is so hard to write about without giving away CRUCIAL PLOT SPOILERS! So here goes: this is Rosemary’s story about her family and how messy and complicated families can be. Rosemary is an only child although she used to have a sister and a brother, both of whom have vanished and are not really mentioned by the rest of her family. Rosemary, on the other hand, thinks and talks about them a lot (but just to you).
One of the most genius things about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is the topsy-turvy narrative that takes you forward and back in time along with Rosemary’s memories, where her past has a stronger calling than the present. If Karen Joy Fowler had written this story in any other way, I don’t think it would have worked so well. This magical weaving of narrative cements Rosemary’s character and whisks the reader along perfectly. Fowler explores lots of themes in this brilliant story but I especially like how she writes about memory; how events that shape your life may or may not have played out in reality like you remember them, and how important that is.
And that’s it. That’s all I can say. Honest, you’ll have to read it for yourself (and you will thank me for not saying more).
I do admire Bryony Gordon’s balls for writing and publishing the memoir of her twenties, although I guess if you write about your life in a national newspaper for long enough you get anesthetized to other people reading/pointing and laughing/judging it. I wonder if you get to the point where you end up being in this circle of disaster because it makes for a good column?
Any-who, like Gordon, my twenties aren’t exactly what I imagined (I’d bet most people’s twenties aren’t – heck, I bet most people’s lives aren’t) and yes, maybe I have written some of it down but to let other people read it? No way! Mainly because it’s a bit boring…It does help that Gordon’s twenties were quite funny. Disastrous, yes but funny too. One night stand who wants to use a butter stick anyone? And that’s just in the first chapter.
In a nutshell, The Wrong Knickers – A Decade of Chaos is basically Bridget Jones with a successful career, more drugs and worse men. You might have thought Daniel Cleaver was a bit of a twat but he looks positively charming against some of the crackers Gordon ends up embroiled with, even if it is for a maximum of 6 hours. There are the crazy/stable friends, awful flats and wine. Lots of wine. However, underneath there is actually a sneaky love story. Yes, there’s coke and week long benders but Gordon gets her happy ending, like a bonkers 21st century fairy tale except it’s real life. So here’s hoping for the rest of us, whose twenties aren’t like those magical one you see on Instagram. It’ll be alright in the end.
Where Ms. Hirons goes I eventually, with Boots card in hand, follow. Her skincare advice is on another level and since following her cheat sheets my skin has improved dramatically – except this bit on my chin, but don’t look at that. That’s stress and hormones.
She mentioned Hydraluron Moisture Jelly by Indeed Labs on her Instagram feed a few weeks ago and, as my moisturiser had got to the scrape-your-finger-under-the-rim stage, I went and bought a pot of this to try instead.
Any product that comes in shiny futuristic packaging and doesn’t have a load of bad chemicals in it will end up on my shelf at some point. I want my skincare to look cutting edge but be full of nice, skin lovely natural things. This one does and is – first tick.
To get the product out, you press the top/big white button and the clear jelly oozes out of the hole in the middle. Bit gross looking, totally addictive if you like pressing buttons and seeing what happens, which I do – second tick.
It smells of clean. I don’t like anything too perfumed so for me, this is good. If I’m honest, I am used to moisturisers that are a little more creamy/oily as I have dehydrated skin and it just sucks up whatever you put on it. Hydraluron Jelly is more of a, well, gel which does soak in fast but my skin doesn’t feel tight or in need of a second coat. If I’m using less, it’ll last longer – third tick.
Overall, a great product to add into my routine so far. If you are looking for a new moisturiser that does what it says on the tin, then you can’t go far wrong with this one.
Buy yours here.
I’m always intrigued by writers who choose to write their main character from the point of view of the opposite sex. Case in point is this book by John Green (a man) whose main character, Hazel is most definitely a 13 year old girl. A girl with terminal cancer who meets a gorgeous boy at a cancer support group. This sounds awful but Green writes in such a matter of fact manner – intelligent, 13 year old girls tend to be quite matter of fact – that it just works.
Yes, The Fault in Our Stars is ‘technically’ a young adult novel, and it is about living with terminal cancer, which sounds about as depressing as you can get, but Green writes with such beautiful insight that it seems to be about anything but this. It’s about being alive and being in love. It’s about friendships and families and not letting anything, whether that’s an illness or whatever, define you.
You will definitely laugh and definitely cry and I urge you to read this before the film comes out and they Hollywood it into something it’s not. I really hope they don’t but you should read it, just in case.