Sunday, 26 February 2017

Older and Wiser

Tides turn, seasons change, weather passes. Nothing is as consistent as inconsistency. Everything in life develops and as much as our surroundings and environment continuously evolves, we do too. Sometimes dramatically in wild and wonderful ways seemingly over night and other times gently without notice. It is often during (but mostly after) these moon like phases we go through that we notice a lesson learnt, a purpose or reason and a sudden acceptation of letting go of what once was, and embracing what can be.

As I am lucky enough to celebrate another birthday, I was hoping to share with you some of those lessons that, upon reflection, I have been bashed round the skull with learnt along my very own pathway, leading to where I find myself today. I by no means have things figured out and strongly believe that nobody does, but I've come to the conclusion that by sharing our experiences and realisations we can perhaps give a little reassurance that it's ok to make mistakes and that nothing is ever set in stone. So take from this what you will and feel free to share you own words of wisdom below.

Forever Friends
This is something that has taken me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. Besides my mum, I've never really had a best friend. Don't get me wrong I've had/ have many wonderful friendships, some that have survived the years only to become stronger with time and others that have blossomed more recently but never that classic BFF that you hear about or see so often in movies. The thing that comes with age is the realisation that there is no 'one size fits all' model for pals and really all we need to do is stop worrying about what we 'should' have and be grateful for those that we do have. Friendships, like everything else, change too. Sometimes you out grow childhood buddies- drift apart with differing interests and priorities or maybe you feel the need to cut particular characters out of your life entirely. Work colleagues can become solid shoulders to cry on, the gals in your pilates class might be your go to for sharing a giggle- there will always be fluid relationships that fit around your wants and needs, varying depths of friendship that develop naturally. Actually, since moving countries I've even found some bonds have strengthened despite the distance and in finding a neat way to make your friends and life fit together and most importantly by putting in the effort to maintain a friendship, this can really help things flourish and ensure the folks around you know how appreciated they are.

Learn To Say No
Something I have struggled with most of my life, being a stereotypical people pleaser. This personality trait can be such a ball ache. You can not make every person happy, it just isn't going to happen (not without stretching yourself paper thin), so learnt to say no, to choose for yourself what you want to do and simply turn down the rest. In fact so often, the more open you are with people the better a reaction you get. This goes for family and friends, but also colleagues or even job offers and project invitations- if it doesn't feel right then maybe it's best to just say no. For me, it has become a very powerful tool, one that has taken a lot of practise to get used to but has lifted my confidence leaps and bounds and has allowed me to refine my priorities and live a much happier life that I've crafted myself. But please don't misunderstand my meaning here, if there are opportunities that interest you then jump in with both feet! The complete flip side to saying no is to take a deep breath and just bite the bullet, but my point above all else is to just exercise your right to choose.

Be Kind To Yourself
This is as simple as it sounds but I so often forget the importance of self love. The pressures we put on ourselves, the unobtainable goals and ever mounting stress to achieve 'perfection'- ahem... putting this in perspective, who do we even think we are? I mean really, perfectionism is a bit narcissistic if you think about it. How about we simply pledge to do our utmost, to continue to move forward, to adapt to our surroundings and situations and to give it everything (within reason), and just leave the ridiculous, ever changing goal posts of the elusive ideal? I choose to make my own rules. To notice when I need time out, to step away from the situation and just breathe. To let go of cumbersome burdens such as misplaced guilt and heavy AF grudges. To say 'screw you' to those socially precious body image standards, the stereotypes shoved on us depending on gender, age, race, the expectations of where we're 'supposed' to be in 5 years/ 10 years. No thanks, you can keep it. I've learnt over the years to quit the constant comparisons and to just get on with things at my own pace.

Some lucky sons of guns are blessed with a healthy dose of confidence from a young age, or are simply of the 'don't give a fudge' nature- how refreshing that must be. I however have struggled with confidence for most of my life. Despite being an outgoing and courageous kid I lost my umph once I hit secondary school and have been searching for it ever since. It is such a shame to let something like lack of self confidence ruin opportunities or experiences and even more of a headspin is being aware of it but not knowing how to tackle it. I have no solid advice for how to get over this, as for me this came with age. At my wise old status in life I have learnt how to not give too much of a shit what people think and to be more selfish- in that I push myself forward with the thought that everyone else is doing the exact same thing. Keeping things in perspective helps, knowing your stuff, building a solid argument, remembering that you're just as important as everyone else and dropping all of the nonsense holding you back, will certainly give you a boost.

Be Picky
Call me grandma, but after speaking to some of the younger folks in my life recently it's hard not to notice this desire to rush through everything. I'm sure I was exactly the same at some point but I really just want to scream "Slow the heck down!" Where does this need come from? To have your studies/ career/ love life/ entire shit figured out. I'm sorry guys, but life just doesn't work like that. Plan all you like, in fact having working goals is fantastic, but leave off the time pressures. I planned on having a long career in theatre/ film after slogging away at my costume design degree and years of experience in that field, only to fall for a tall Dutch guy and move to the furthest point of civilisation (and theatre land) possible in the Netherlands (might have been a touch overly dramatic here). Priorities and desires change. Catch my drift? Stop racing ahead, savour every stage of your life and be darn picky! You can afford to learn who you are and want you want before speeding off into marriages and such. Be choosy, change your mind, live your life for you and that way you'll welcome such experiences and opportunities that just might lead you somewhere you may never have planned. All in good time.

Having a few personal objectives help keep things on track and work as a gentle reminder to put the above points in practice. Such as; making an effort to keep in touch with people even via a simple postcard or phone call / keeping a journal recording everything down from important dates and projects to daily tasks, thoughts and memories / I've decided to take more photographs as keepsakes but also to improve my skills (vastly needed) / to indulge in reading / to explore more and appreciate my environment / to get off my butt and set myself new projects.

While that, my loves, was my two cents, I by no means have a clear outlook of what I want or expect from my near future, but you know what? I don't really mind all that much. I'm happy and healthy, I have some great people around me and more than a few creative inspirations that keep a wee fire in my belly glowing. I will continue to reflect and take stock of my wants and needs and hopefully have the courage to redirect my path as necessary. Above all else I just want to work towards being the best version of myself.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Treasured Tomes // My Favourite Reads of 2016

During 2016 I really got my read on and devoured a good number of fantastic books, over the year. I felt a little odd that I hadn't shared my overall favourites with you, so here is my round up of recommendations!

10. De Vrouw in het Zwart / The Woman in Black by Susan Hill  5* {208 pages}

If you're a fan of classic ghost stories with a subtle yet spine chilling amount of suspense and a deliciously gothic setting then this little gem is for you! The perfect horror novel for the more delicate reader, as this book isn't a slasher gore-fest but a cleverly unfolding story with just enough of a creep factor to make you sleep with the light on. I give myself extra Brownie points as I read this sucker in Dutch (go team!).

9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon  5* {896 pages}

Although this book could easily double as a deadly weapon (896 pages!!), it really takes you on a journey. Through it's pages you will travel across lands and through time, following the experiences of a post WW2 nurse, visiting the brisk wilds of the Scottish highlands during the Jacobite risings of 1745 and discovering how love can grow in the strangest of situations. This is one to savour and enjoy, curled up in a blanket.

8. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast (book 5 part 2) by George R R Martin  5* {560 pages}

The last book in the series so far, and boy what a beauty! Filled with all of my favourite Game of Thrones characters (well, the ones that make it past the first few books that is...) and over flowing with adventure and treason, battles and romance, not forgetting our beloved dragons! A fantastic addition to this mammoth collection of books but be sure to take your time over reading it, as the next part of the story is yet to be released.

7. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss  4* {722 pages}

Being perfectly honest I was rather nervous to start this one, as it is a favourite book of so many people and often with a hype that big things can be a bit of a let down... But thankfully not this time! Good old fashioned fantasy fabulousness, everything you want and need in a gigantic feast of a novel! Pick up a copy of this is you're seeking magic and wonderment, tragedy and romance filled with tales of mystical beasts and deadly demons and over flowing with fantastic characters that will have you struggling to put the book down.

6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J K Rowling  5* {652 pages}

This guy needs no description, but I will say that I flipping loved this instalment of the Harry Potter legendary series and find myself at a loss now, knowing that only one more book remains. A classic story of friendship and love overcoming the tragedies and destruction's of evil, with a healthy sprinkling of magic, of course! Such a great story, no matter what age you are!

5. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich  5* {320 pages}

Oh boy, where to start with this book? Heartbreaking, honest and original. This novel knocked me for six and left me thinking about it's characters and story line long after I had put it back on my shelf. There is something touchingly vulnerable about this novel, one not to be rushed.

4. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters  5* {608 pages}

Everything I love in a novel. Set in the dark, grimy depths of Dickensian London this character led story is one heck of a ride! Tragedy and unrequited love mixed in with orphans, pick pockets and lunatic asylums, this novel is a real treat if richly described historical drama is your bag.

3. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt  5* {624 pages}

I devoured this tome of a book and embraced it's lengthy yet nostalgic, heart wrenching and characterful story not wanting it to end. For me, this was the perfect book to fall into and enjoy every page. I have set my sights on reading more work from Tartt in the hopes of recapturing the all encompassing feeling I had, whilst reading this one. A relatively simple story, no flash bangs or crash wallops, just a bitter sweet tale of family, innocence and forgiveness.

2. Bird Box by Josh Malerman  5* {480 pages}

This book! Such a fantastically original and pant wettingly tense story! Don't even read the synopsis just pick this sucker up and dive in head first. Although, a word of warning, if you've a rather wild imagination this may not be the book for you!

1. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon  5* {672 pages}

Well, I certainly didn't think my most favourite book of the year would have been a piece of non fiction. This little treasure really knocked my socks off. Such fascinating subjects told with a truly graceful hand, I really can't recommend this book enough. Gordon offers a most captivating insight into the lives of writer, philosopher and fore front advocate of women's rights Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley (of gothic masterpiece Frankenstein fame). This book brings together a pair of visionary women who despite not sharing a life continue to share a literary legacy. Biography at it's best.

I'd love to know if you've read any of these books and if you have any recommendations of similar reads, for me to check out. If you'd like more literary reviews / bookish recommendations or simply just fancy a nose at what else I read last year then you can check out these page turning posts. Or head over to goodreads and lets be book buddies. Either way make sure to fill your days with beautiful books packed with your favourite adventures! Happy reading, friends!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hashtag Aces // Instagram Accounts Currently Loving

Whether you're in the office, curled up on the sofa or out and about Instagram is my go to source of scrumptious visuals and constant stream of inspiration and social link to a greater creative hive, from the touch of a button. My stream of ever updating images is jam full of stunning landscapes, seriously stylish fashion warriors and incredible artistry from all across the globe.

I am never at a loss for beautiful photographs to browse and as well as constantly discovering new people to follow, I have a fair amount of favourites that I keep up with daily and being the sharing kind I have gathered up a handful of truly awesome Instagrammers that are currently brightening up my otherwise foggy, grey days.


Dreamy content // thought out yet natural compositions // earthy tones // crisp, rich visuals


Parisian chic with an English heart // retro vibes // classic silhouettes // rich, distinctive style


Soft, dreamy images // ethereal light // escapism // story teller


Vintage bombshell // classic and timeless // fun, playful looks // wardrobe of dreams


Texture // colour love // earthy florals // hand-stitched close ups // inspiring and creative


Light, refreshing collections // cute compositions // sweet yet wearable colours // classic cuts

I hope you enjoy these butt kicking instagram accounts as much as I do, feel free to fall down the rabbit hole of pretty pictures and check out my last instalment of favourites here. Oh, and please let me know of any creative peeps that you're currently digging, I'm forever on the look out for more! Have yourselves a fabulous week and don't forget to stop by my facebook page to keep up with my birthday month shenanigans (more of that here!)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Reflect, Refresh & Indulge // Embracing my birthday month!

Besides celebrating smoochy romance, the Oscars and some awesome looking new shows on Netflix; February also brings my birthday! And since it is a teeny tiny dot of a month I like to claim the entire thing and dedicate this cold yet ever-closer-to-Spring time of year, as mine! To do with as I please and this year I aim to fill each moment with my favourite activities whilst hoping to hit the refresh button and top up my happiness bar, ready for another trip around the sun!

I've compiled some ideas to keep my month indulgent yet restorative, as I plan on devouring every joyful moment, embracing new challenges and hobbies, celebrating all the small, wondrous and in-between and spending guilt free time for myself.

Museums, art galleries, castles- Since signing up for a year long museum card I intend on making the most of its crazy awesome free entry allowance and plan on exploring my local cultural and creative exhibitions and monuments!

Lot's of cooking and baking- Fresh, local produce worked into a delicious meal- dancing in the kitchen and screeching along to the radio is compulsory- not only keeps my titch of a body in good nick but also offers a relaxing and productive activity.

Whole entire afternoons reading- Ahh pure bliss! Uninterrupted and completely guilt free! It's my party and I'll read if I want to!

Revisit my most beloved films of all time- And why not. What better excuse to crack out some all time favourites, and fear not friends, I won't be forgetting the popcorn! Keep an eye on
my twittering and facebookary to keep up with which movies make the cut.

Buy fresh flowers- I love visiting our village's local market hall for seasonal flowers and will be filling the house with blossoms for the entire month!

Yoga with my girl Adriene- Keeping in theme with nurturing ones self, I plan to stretch and move to Adriene's youtube channel and will be celebrating my 31st year on this strange yet beautiful ball of dirt by focusing my energy, strengthening my body and recalibrating my mind.

Catching up with my peeps- Whether that means chatting for hours with my mum on the phone, skyping my buddy and gossipping digitally, sending love letters and postcards to friends and family or arranging coffee dates and fun days out, my days will be filled with my favourite people and the task of reminding them of their value in my life.

Brisk walks around the meadows- Full-lunged intakes of fresh, crisp air will blow out the cobwebs and make space in my noggin for new, inspiring, creative ideas for exciting projects. Rich and I were so distracted by chatting during last Sunday's stroll, that we'd been walking for two hours and hadn't yet turned back in the direction of home! Also, switching off by listening to a podcast or my favourite records is such a refreshing blast of exercise and time out; double win!

Other fun fancies on the top of my list include baking myself a birthday cake, plotting some epic things to see and do for our summer trip to Canada, taking as many photographs as possible and journalling my days, going to a matinee cinema showing totes alone, exploring the Fashion Quarter of Arnhem and networking the heck out of my trip and crafting crafting crafting!

My sincerest apologies if my greed and seeming narcissism offends you, I'll just be over here eating my ice cream for breakfast and jumping on the bed... It's the smallest month on the calendar, just let me have it! It isn't that I find myself terribly important and that my birth must be a celebration of grandiose proportions; more that I am a cliche'd and symbolic being and by using my birthday as a catalyst for this new year of mine I hope to move forward with positivity and enthusiasm and love the idea of embracing the things in life that make me happy, making the most of the beauty in every day. Plus... cake!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Tangled // Irresistible Me hair extensions Review

When the fabulous folks from Irresistible Me got in touch and offered me the opportunity to review a piece from their Silky Touch collection of 100% Human, Remy clip - in extensions, I headed over to their website and social media channels to take a look at the company and what they offered with regards to product, branding and most importantly ethics. I also did a little dance and quickly binged on youtube hair tutorials as I'm a total rookie with hair extensions!

Irresistible Me are a New York based company specialising in high quality 100% natural Remy clip-in hair extensions, hair accessories and hair tools, working closely with bloggers, youtubers and their clients to achieve a fabulous product and brand that reflects their love of fashion and beauty. Being a total newbie to hair extensions my first worry was how ethically has the hair been donated, having a rather sceptical outlook (and zero knowledge), but almost instantly, upon voicing my concerns I had a thorough and reassuring response from their team, telling me how important to them the ethics of sourcing the hair is and how they only used assured sources of more than willing participants. So, the next step was choosing which colour, length and weight I wanted, posing the trickiest question of all: Do I go subtle, boosting volume and a bit of length... or full mermaid?!

They survived the journey from New York packaged in this sleek box, and further presented coiled up and wound with a net inside these zip-lock pouches. The big bundle of extensions are sealed with a secure tab, the smaller sample piece is available to crack open and test out right away. The idea is that you test the colour and length using the smaller sample before touching the main product- it just saves this precious and expensive hair from being handled unnecessarily if the colour doesn't match your own hair etc, you can simply send them back and swap them for the right set. Very clever!

The colour matched my hair so well that it's really hard to see a difference at all (ahem... that may be the point of course). I opted for the Silky Touch clip- in extensions in Silky Light Brown #6 and choose the 16" length and 140g weight (after reading/ watching multiple reviews on what to expect from the weight etc). On the Irresistible Me website there is an incredibly useful video to guide in you selecting the right colour, but they are super friendly and helpful if you have specific questions or queries and also with regards to returns.

Being a total noob with things like this I had a little play around with them, watched approximately 600 youtube videos to whittle down the tips and tricks and eventually found a technique that not only feels actually comfortable on my head but looks pretty neat too! The length is noticeably longer than my natural hair but once curled slightly and brushed together you can blend the ends so it's less obvious. The colour is just bizarrely accurate and the texture of the hair is so delicious.

My hair before adding the clip in extensions.

Again, my just-below-shoulder length hair, before adding the clip ins.

I received a bundle containing 1x large weft of hair with 4 clips attached, 2x pieces with 3 clips, 5x smaller sections with 2 clips to secure the hair and 2x tiny strips with 1 clip each. Quite the bundle of hair! You can really play around with how many you use, depending on what type of look you're hoping to achieve. Also, you can try out layering the clip ins on top of each other to build up thicker sections attaching less clips to your own hair.

For this look below, I used 1x 3 clip, 1x 4 clip and 4x 2 clips simply to ramp up the volume and test out the longer length. I am by no means experienced with products like these- in fact I'm very much the opposite, being a less is more kind of lazy gal when it comes to beauty. But I found the whole process fun to do, not too time consuming and really loved the end result!

What do you think? Forgive my lack of skills in this department, this was a first time attempt but as a total rookie I was really impressed with the Irresistible Me product and I'd be intrigued to check out what other pieces they sell. You can find a lot of style inspiration from their site and social media channels, I would also recommend watching some youtube videos if you're also a noob like me. One thing I will recommend is allowing yourself a bit of time to play with them, before wearing them out for a special event, and that brushing your hair and the clip ins together is key AND dry shampoo is your best friend! Spray a little at the roots where you'll be attaching them to give it a bit of grip!

I'm off to Pinterest the heck out of 'long hair styles' to see if I can come up with some fun ideas- now I'm an official mermaid and all. Stay tuned for further hairspiration and if you have any tips on how to work these bad boys I'd love to hear them!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Look How They Shine For You // Golden Globes Glamour 2017

The wind may be a blowing and the snow may be fluffy under foot, the blustering weather may have you hiding under your duvet reaching for the snooze button, but over in La La Land the stars were out in full flourish for an evening of grace and glamour for the 74th Golden Globes Awards. An evening dedicated to celebrating the bold and the beautiful, where film and television actors collect and collide, where it's an honour to be nominated let alone taking home the prized awards, and this years event was no exception!

As well as being super thrilled to read that some of my favourite thespians were nominated (and winners!!), for me it's all about the glitz and glam of dress up! Being a costume gal, the awards season is more about seeing the stars mix personality with fashion adding a healthy dose of drama, ready to strike a pose as they hit the red carpet. There were so many gorgeous looks that this ended up quite a photo heavy post, though amongst the sparkles and tuxedos, periwinkle chiffons and splashes of yellow, I'm sure you won't mind!

Simply Divine

Let's kick off this post with a round up of my most favourite looks of the evening! The plunging yet classy necklines, the gorgeously delicate fabrics, the dusty periwinkle and scattering of stars, these 5 looks are just simply stunning. Mandy Moore looks like a goddess in this almost sheer Naeem Khan gown, Evan Rachel Wood cuts a fine silhouette ditching tradition and reaching for a classic Altuzarra tux and wearing the heck out of it, Kristen Bell stuns in this sequined Jenny Packham gown. Jaw droppingly beautiful in Vionnet Anna Kendrick brings a softness and delicacy to the red carpet and Emma Stone dazzles in Valentino Haute Couture and happened to win Best Actress in a motion picture for comedy or musical!

The Fash Pack

The cool kids mixing it up brought cut-out shapes, texture, colour and florals galore! Jessica Biel looked red carpet ready in this seriously stylish Elie Saab dress, Olivia Culpo stole the night in this dramatic number by Zuhair Murad bringing a gallery worthy gown to life and posing like nobody's business and Busy Phillips looked cute as a button in this super flatering cut and by adding a touch of nature, to her otherwise classic black dress, raised her fashion game to master.

Mellow Yellow

A refreshing blast of sunshine in a sea of monochrome, these bright lovelies stood out from the crowd. Viola Davis sparkled and shined in an asymmetric Michael Kors dress, a glowing Natalie Portman looked divine wearing this retro glam Prada outfit and Reese Witherspoon did what she does best and smoldered in this spring-fresh strapless gown by Versace.

Classic Cut

There's just something irresistible about a classic red carpet look and these outfits scream luxury. Adding a badass twist to a classic, sharp cut suit Kathryn Hahn slayed in Brandon Maxwell, Chrissy Metz went for pure Hollywood with a velvet amethyst Nathan Paul dress and Winona Ryder in custom Viktor & Rolf showed how mixing old school glamour and gothic beauty makes one heck of an awards look. The beautiful Gillian Anderson gives me goosebumps in this ethereal Jenny Packham show stopper and killing it in a classic Vivienne Westwood is Gwendoline Christie.

Fairy Tale

Sugary sweet, these beauties opted for feminine floatiness and set jaws a droppin in these four other-worldly looks. Lily Collins is all frothy princess in Zuhair Murad, the gorgeous Connie Brutton wore a sophisticated blush pink Georges Hobeika dress, Kristin Cavallari was sultry and sparkles in Idan Cohen and Drew Barrymore floated to greatness in this fairytale worthy dress by Monique Lhuillier.


Phasers were set to stun at the 74th Golden Globes as many an attendee adorned their bodies in precious gems, and these four looks dripped with diamonds! Ruth Negga looked out-of-this-world in Armani Prive, Priyanka Chopra was a shimmering vision in Ralph Lauren, the stunning Felicity Huffman rocked this Edition by Georges Chakra number and shining bright like a diamond was Regina King in this Romona Keveza floor sweeper.

Here Come The Boys

Let's here it for the gents, looking mighty fine in their Sunday best. The oh so intensely charming Milo Ventimiglia stunned in navy Ralph Lauren, Award Winner Casey Affleck chose a 3 piece by Dolce & Gabbana, gorgeous Christian Slater wore a slate grey Armani suit and stealing the show with his sweet heart of a speech, and of course actually winning by picking up an award, Ryan Gosling in a Gucci tuxedo.

Classy Things

This gang of suave vagabonds had the time of their lives by mingling with the rich and famous and posing the heck out of that red carpet, whilst looking pretty darn smart. Milly Bobby Brown looked every bit the star in Jenny Packham and the boys didn't let her steal all of the lime light as they rocked their tuxedos like true heroes.

There you have it my friends, a fabulous dose of showbiz sparkle to brighten your day. I don't know about you but awards season always makes me want to binge on motion pictures and marathon a series or two! What better excuse to head back under that duvet, grab yourself a hot chocolate while you're at it and tune in for some glamour and escapism- well, until Spring arrives at least!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Precious Paperbacks // Quarterly Book Review

So here it is, a shiny new year upon us, as good an opportunity as any to reflect and review upon all manner of things- our personal achievements, our professional ambitions or how about a quarterly book review discussing the books I read during the months of October, November and December? You're in you say? Well then, let's crack on shall we?

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich     5 * {320 pages}

Never before have I read a book with such heart breaking tragedy that was told with so gentle a hand. In one swift movement the crushing reality of the severity and sheer loss is revealed yet rather than thrashing this about for dramatic effect it is delicately delivered with emotion and tenderness. This book is one to savour. Set time aside for this novel and indulge in time spent inside it's pages, allow it's harrowing story to wash over you and fill your mind with the beauty of Emily Ruskovich's words (and for a debut novel to boot!)

This journey of a novel follows one woman's need to piece together the puzzle of an otherwise regular family's tragic past, whilst living within their bitter, confused present and her moral struggle with forging their future. Idaho is a novel about loss and violence, love and forgiveness. Easily one of the best books I read in 2016.

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon    5 * {672 pages}

This book! Another wonderful read. I devoured it despite it's rather weighty stature and genuinely didn't want it to end!

Not only was this a content rich book, jammed to the brim with interesting facts and true events, snippets of these women's lives laid bare, private letters and diaries exposed and their personal and professional accomplishments discussed and dissected but it is also written exquisitely. It is all too often a biography or piece of non fiction forgets the importance of delivery and simply bores with a list of dates and events; Gordon offers a most fascinating insight into the lives of writer, philosopher and fore front advocate of women's rights Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley (most well known for epic gothic novel Frankenstein), bizarrely similar despite never having known each other. I found this book addictive and informative and will be hunting down both further works about these two women and other pieces by Charlotte Gordon. A most sincere recommendation!

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J K Rowling    5 * {652 pages}

If you've read one of my quarterly book reviews before (like this one, this one or this one perhaps?), then you will know that shockingly at 30 years of age I am still making my way through the Harry Potter series for the very first time. A long story short, I rather stubbornly avoided the books upon their original release as I was convinced they were over hyped and probably babyish... Hahaha! What an idiot!! I then, along with everyone else, fell in love with the movies but was afraid to start the series just in case it didn't compare to the big budget movies... Once again I was wrong! So here I am, entering my third decade on this crazy planet and making my way through one fan-blooming-tastic Hogwarts wonder at a time- and this wee pickle was one of my favourites yet! I won't offer a synopsis as you either already know and love the story dearly or you certainly won't be wanting me to spoil the books for you if you've yet to make the worthy pilgrimage. Just simply do the damn thing!

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore     3.5*

I listened to the audio book version of this and really enjoyed it's light entertainment value whilst pottering about in my sewing room. I also love the fact that as well as it being an autobiography of Drew Barrymore's life, she narrates it herself in her ever charming, although sometimes 'actory' way. This book won't be winning any literary prizes nor does it reveal any ground breaking mindfulness but it is a sweet, insightful and highly entertaining read- especially if you grew up with her movies, like I did! I would recommend this to all true Drew fans and even to readers seeking inspiration to continue the path towards self development and that you're never too old to achieve big things.

Sterf Twee Keer / Die Again by Tess Gerritsen    4* {320 pages}

I award myself double brownie points for reading this bad boy in Dutch, but boasting aside this was a fantastic story! Quick paced thriller that flits between a dramatic and horrifying event on safari in Botswana and the dream team Rizzoli and Isles back in Boston cracking the case.

This was my first Tess Gerristen book, despite my mum having read most of her work and being a bit of a fan of the show, nevertheless upon opening this novel I was sucked into it's sufficiently nail biting story line and the cleverness with how the story is split. Not a huge book and certainly a page turner, I urge you to pick this one up, I certainly intend to delve deeper into the Gerritsen archives for more cop-drama drama!

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss    4.5* {662 pages}

Hurray for ginormous fantasy books!

As ever, I'm late to the party with this epic series but am happy to announce that I really really enjoyed it! I loved the story and how it is told, I enjoyed the magical world and all the wondrous details throughout and fell in love with the characters and the setting, whole heartedly. I will admit that I didn't find it easy to break into, with all of the names and different elements that make up this great story but once I had my concentrating hat on and was a chunk of the way in I simply devoured it!

The story follows the life and all it's twists and magical turns of our main character (who goes by many names) and boy what a life he's lead! Cleverly paced, weaving backstory with current occurrences, this is one delightfully set out book and is really truly jam packed with adventure, high fantasy and some truly glorious characters! I can't wait to get stuck into the next instalment and see where this tale takes me!

Queen Elizabeth's Wooden Teeth: And Other Historical Fallacies by Andrea Barham    3* {192 pages}

Super interesting little book and a great one to whiz through as a palate cleanser but I found it rigid and not particularly reader-friendly, between all the facts and figures. It has some classic myths to bust and some corkers you may never have come across but lacks a certain charm in it's presentation.

All in all, I was super happy with the last few books I read and can't wait to dive into my to-read pile, this year! I'm purposefully not setting any rigid goals or lists this year as I'm too much of a mood reader to comply with any pre-planning! Plus, I'm not a fan of the weird pressure to rack up a high number of read novels just for the end figure, I enjoy my chunky books a bit too much! So this year I will be picking and choosing as I go and as ever, I will be sure to share with you those books that stand out from the crowd and any reviews along the way! What climbed to the top of your favourites pile from this Winter? Are you a seasonal reader delving into colder climates and festive settings or do you follow a different reading rhythm? I'd be intrigued to know how you pick your next book, too!