The book club: April and May

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling kind of swamped in school work – we have mock exams coming up at the beginning of July, which I know sounds like ages away, but I have a fair few uni open days, school trips and a 5-night holiday to contend with, so I don’t feel like I’m going to have a lot of time to prepare! Plus, these mocks contribute to our predicted grades, which could affect which universities will offer a place – eeeekk…

Anyway, one of my favourite forms of procrastination is reading and so talking about reading felt like another equally enjoyable way to put off the mounds of revision I should be doing – so here I am! I didn’t post a Book Club post last month because I was in the middle of a book, and I hadn’t read much that month anyway; from now on though I think I’m going to do two-monthly posts as they’re just more substantial, ya know!?

I’ve enjoyed some r e a l l y good books recently, including The Picture of Dorian Gray. I want to read more classics and I thought this was a good place to start, as it’s an A-Level text in some schools (although not mine) so I figured it’d be a challenge but still something to read just for pleasure. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did to be honest! The philosophical, poetic monologues throughout are so beautiful and I just found the plot really gripping – I’m hoping to actually be able to use it for my English lit coursework too (but I’ll explain more about that in a while.)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: I have to say, I didn’t like this much as I thought I would – not because of the story (even though really, it’s not a story, it used to be real life) or the characters, but simply because it took me a while to get into. I don’t know about you but I like to always start a book when I know I’ve got an hour or two to really get into it, but unfortunately I didn’t have that with The Underground Railroad so I just didn’t feel as connected to it as I do with other plots. Nevertheless, it was a good, yet harrowing, read, and I definitely recommend; in the not-too-distant-future, I’m going to have another read of this because I felt that I really didn’t do it justice.

Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie was my favourite book when I was about 9 or 10 and I found the series on my bookshelf when I was tidying it the other day (it’s got to that point where I have to get rid of some books to make room for my new ones 😫). Since I haven’t read any of the series in about 6 years, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and reread them, and even though the font size is huge and the plot is now incredibly predictable, it was still interesting, and even more so to see how far my reading and book choice has progressed in a few years!!

For my English lit coursework, we have to write a 3000-word essay comparing The Great Gatsby to another book, so I think I’ll probably choose The Picture of Dorian Gray although that’s not definite. I loveloveloved The Great Gatsby (and the film’s pretty good too, made 10 times better by the fact Leonardo DiCaprio stars in it 😍)

One of Us is Lying is a relatively new book I believe, I think it was only published either last year or the year before, and to be honest, I haven’t heard much about it – but honestly, if you haven’t read it, you need to! It was the perfect escapist read: a YA thriller/mystery in which a boy dies from being poisoned by peanut oil in detention. The spiralling events are so clever and detailed and I really loved how information is slowly drip-fed through to you buy the 4 different narrators; a must read!

And finally, I’m currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – I don’t have too much to say about it so far as I’ve only really just started it, although I have immediately warmed to Eleanor. I’ve seen a lot about this book particularly on Instagram so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype, but so far so good 😉

I’m going on holiday to the Netherlands tomorrow so my posting, if existent, will be sporadic – but let me know, either in the comments here or on my instagram, would you prefer to see an Ode to My Younger Self or a Skincare Routine post? I hope things are good with you, sending my love as always! Xxx

Talking: books.

The only thing better than reading a book is talking about that book with somebody who loves books equally as much as you! And recently, I’ve had the pleasure to talk to Eleanor, from eleanorclaudie.com, and the lovely M, from cadmiumxred.

I didn’t write my book club post last month for April, simply because I was in the middle of a book and I didn’t know whether to include it or not, so later on this month/early next month I’m going to write a combined April + May post. I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray and have since recommended it to everyone, M included – and although she hasn’t read it, I can forgive her, since she said “I’ve been obsessed with theatre plays lately, especially Shakespeare’s work! I find just find his way with words fascinating!! I’ve read a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.” Me and you both 😉❤️

Now, I’m not one to gravitate towards a non-fiction book to read in leisure time – sure, I will read some, but I just prefer a good story to delve in to! Saying that though, Eleanor definitely persuaded me to have a look for When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi “because it was so inspiring and touching and I could’ve cried at various points in the novel”. I’m a weepy person anyway so I’m not quiiite sure if I can face the emotional trauma reading this autobiography will bring, but maybe one day I’ll have a grip on my emotions and decide to face it. As a plot though, it sounds truly moving and devastating yet inspirational.

Fun fact: there are around 134 million books in the world (I bet Gutenberg never thought his idea would take hold like it has done haha). It can be a little overwhelming to decide what to read next, or at least it is for me, but recently I’ve found that YouTube is a good place to start – and Eleanor has too! “Estee Lalonde recommended ‘A Little Life’ on her YouTube channel a while ago so I really want to read that [and] Ariel Blisset (❤️ her) recommended All We Shall Know”. I personally want to read some of Sunbeams Jess’s recommendations, although a lot are quite text-heavy so I’ll save them until summer, when I have unlimited time!

From our conversations, a few other book recommendations came up which I’ll list here if you’re stuck on what to read – I’ve got my to-read list updated already, hehe 😊

— Fahrenheit 451: What I love about F451 is how deep it is even though the story is simple, it’s very philosophical! – M

— The Underground Railroad

— Leviathan: because Thomas Hobbes is a political philosopher that we look at for the Stuart’s in history. – Eleanor

— If This Is A Man: I think I’m going to read a few more history books during the summer for my uni application such as if this is a man by Primo Levi (it’s about someone who survives the holocaust). – Eleanor

— Frankenstein

A big thank you to both M and Eleanor for talking books with me, and if you have any time, check out their blogs (they’re both very very cool people!)

The Faves

c l o t h i n g

to say it’s actually May, the weather has been quite unreliable lately – it’s cold in the morning, rains for most of the day, then is really sunny later on (although saying that, it’s 10.15am here and already 16°c and yesterday it reached 25°)! typical britain haha, so recently I’ve taken to wearing a lot of layers. my two favourite combos at the moment are:

blue shirt: next – sports bra/crop top: adidas – jumper: nike (obvs)

sportswear items have actually become some of my favourite clothes recently: they’re so easy and comfy to wear just around the house, they’re generally quite flattering and they have the bonus of meaning you can’t wriggle out of not exercising!!

m u s i c

  • nice for what – drake
  • sanctify – years & years
  • broken – lund
  • color blind – diplo
  • shot down – khalid
  • paradise – george ezra

f l o w e r s

since the weather hasn’t been that great, a lot of the trees around where I live are still bare, or at least very sparse, although with the past few days of sunshine the blossom is now coming out!!! if you follow my instagram you’ll know that I ❤ blossom, so I’m very very excited that it’s back.

t v s h o w s

it’s surprising to a lot of my friends that i don’t have netflix (but god knows i don’t need another distraction!😂), so if I feel like watching something, I’ll either put on a film, watch some youtube videos or watch the actual tv (as in, something that is actually being broadcast on tv, not something I’m streaming). at the minute, I’m enjoying watching britain’s got talent – the auditions are the best part! – and the yorkshire vet, because even though I’m allergic to most animals and am very squeamish, it’s still enjoyable as parts are filmed close-ish to where I live, which is pretty cool 😏

j o k e

my friend recently told me a joke, and it’s the first on I’ve heard in a while which I’ve told other people 😂 so, what do you call a row of rabbits jumping backwards?

(I’ll put the answer at the bottom of this post!)

f o r t h e f a c e

i’m not one for wearing a full face of makeup – powder, brows, eyeshadow, and depending on how tired I look, concealer, is the most I’ll wear, but my favourites are:

  • brows – makeup revolution brow kit (which is £3 I think, but such good quality!)
  • concealer – maybelline instant anti-age rewind or seventeen stay time – I prefer the maybelline one but it’s not cruelty-free, so I don’t think I’ll buy it again 😦
  • powder – collection sheer loose powder
  • eyeshadow – makeup revolution x soph does nails palette

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post; I enjoyed writing it to be honest! Wishing you all the best of weeks, let’s hope this weather lasts 😊

Cara xx

the answer to the joke is – a receding hare line 😉

Midlands Trek (pt. 2)

Ok so first of all, clearly I can’t keep promises! I was ready to write this post last night after work, but my friend called me and asked me out so I went and didn’t get back home until quite late. Hey ho, it’s here now, so feast your eyes 👀

On day 4, we were moving on towards Hereford where we were booked into another hotel for two more nights, but on the way my dad wanted to stop off at a town called Ledbury (which I had misheard and kept calling it Lebra haha). We literally had an hour to see the entire town because we could only find car parking for one hour, so we rushed around, saw some cute streets, had some lunch and got back into the car to finish off the journey to Hereford.

When we arrived at Hereford, we quickly unpacked then went to the Cathedral to see the Weeping Window – the tour of the ceramic poppies that were displayed at the Tower of London to commemorate WW1.

The next day, we visited Ludlow after stopping off at some of my family’s house. Ludlow is so pretty and historic; we went through the market and the castle and they were both gorgeous.

We also had a delicious meal in Ludlow at The Church Inn, so if you’re ever near definitely try it there!

After that, we headed back to the hotel for our last night (cry cry :(). The next day, we called in on a few places on the way back home – first of all Shrewsbury.

I feel like I didn’t get enough time in Shrewsbury to do it justice, so I really would like to go back there, but what we did see was beautiful (I also had a slice of lemon drizzle cake which was just 👌)! Everywhere we visited on the trip was really pretty and the weather, for once, played to our advantage as it was quite sunny for most of the days! After we left Shrewsbury, we drove to north Wales to see my grandparents, and then carried on back home, so I think all in all that day we were in the car for about 5-6 hours…fun…:)

Xxx

Midlands Trek (pt. 1)

During the Easter half term holiday (which went so quickly by the way, can you believe we’ve been back at school for a week already?!) I travelled down to the Midlands with my family, and we stayed in Warwick for 3 nights and Hereford for 2. I’ve never been to either place before even though I have family and friends who live down there, so it was a cool experience (and we got to see some pretty views, eat lots of good food and meet kind-of-long-lost-family too, so what’s not to love!)

Our first stop was Kenilworth, mainly to see my mum’s auntie and uncle, but we also went to the castle there. I obviously had to get a few photos for the ‘gram – the first photo, of me with the ‘no climbing’ sign is the most rebellious thing I’ve probably ever done, and I’m not even joking there – and then after we’d been caught in a brief-but-heavy hail storm, we decided to go out for some tea. I have to give a shoutout to Zizzi here – your pinoli pizza is incredible 😍

Day 2 dawned very gloomy which was a bit of a pain, although it didn’t stop us from doing anything – after breakfast, we drove over to Stratford upon Avon to do all the essential touristy Shakespeare attractions which, being an English lit student, I liked a lot. Heheh.

I’m just going to share this Shakespeare conspiracy theory (kind of) that we learned when we went to the church where he’s buried, because it’s so weird that it just has to be true! I can’t remember who it was exactly, but a king or a lord at the time asked Shakespeare to transcribe some of the Bible from Latin to English, because he wanted religion to be more accessible for non-Latin speakers. So he did this, aged 46, and if you look at Psalm 46, the 46th word in is ‘shake’, and the 46th word from the end is ‘spear’! I don’t know how true it is, but I just feel like maybe that’s too much of a coincidence to be completely made up.

After we’d visited the Shakespeare Birthplace (which is arguably way overpriced but if you’re into literature, it’s definitely worth a visit – they have actors who take your requests and launch into spontaneous scenes from his plays, which is incredible!!) we had a hot chocolate and some dinner – I had a sweet potato and feta lasagne which was beautiful. I feel like this post is going to be equally as much about food as the holiday haha…

We had dinner in a little bit of a rush as we had tickets booked for the Swan Theatre that night, to watch a new play called The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich. Again, definitely recommend, but be prepared because the storyline moves so quickly! I think one of the coolest things about it was being able to recognise some of the actors – most have been in programmes like Doctors and Eastenders which I don’t watch, but I still recognised a few of them!

Day 3 now, which consisted of driving to Leamington Spa and exploring there, and visiting the centre of Warwick. My grandad was brought up in Leamington Spa but me, my brother and my dad had never been so we decided to have a look around and, guys!!

They had a Tiger shop!!

Ok, so, Tiger shops are very rare in England, normally I think they’re only in bigger cities, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see one and of course, I had to go in! I restrained myself from buying anything though, which I was proud of myself for (but look at everything! I literally could have bought the entire inventory of the shop 😍)

Literally the most pointless sign ever, but I’ll be disappointed if my future house doesn’t have one similar!

We stayed in Warwick for an hour, visiting the church and just generally having a look around the town, and then we had some dinner and drove back to the hotel.

I’m going to end this post here, even though there are another 3 days of photos and stories to be uploaded. As of late, time management hasn’t been my strongest point – hence why I’m writing this at 9.30pm on a Friday night – but self-care is also important, and a girl needs her sleep 😉 I promise I’ll write the rest of this post tomorrow! I also have some more ideas for posts, so if I sort myself out in time, watch out for those in the next few days.

Xxx

50 facts about me

I’ve gained a fair amount of new followers recently (if you’re one, hey! It’s nice to have you here) and since it’s my birthday, I thought it’d be an interesting post that I can compare with next year!

  1. I’m 17 years old today!
  2. That makes me an Aries.
  3. I don’t really pay much attention to horoscopes, although sometimes at the end of the day I’ll have a look at one and see if it fits with what happened during the day – spoiler, it doesn’t normally!!
  4. I’m the eldest child, and have one brother who’s 14.
  5. I’m half-Welsh, but sadly I don’t have an accent at all (at least I don’t think I do)
  6. I can do an okay(ish) Scottish impression but it’s not something I exactly pride myself on!
  7. I own too many things! I wouldn’t describe myself as a hoarder but…do I really need that scrappy postcard my best friend sent me in 2005? :/
  8. I like to think that I’m in control of my fears.
  9. One of my favourite hobbies is reading but I don’t read as much as I’d like to: it’s just so much easier to pick up my iPad or phone and scroll down Instagram but I’d love to change that.
  10. Paddington 1 and 2 are amazing films, as well as the Harry Potter series.
  11. I’m a naturally ambitious person but I think sometimes my ambitions aren’t exactly…feasible 🙂
  12. In relation to fact 11, I’d love to get to Cambridge Uni (which I know I’ve mentioned approximately 482617 times on here), but we’ll see how that pans out.
  13. My guilty pleasure would be stationery! Or chocolate 🙂
  14. I have a Saturday job at a national company – I don’t know if I can say it because of confidentiality or something?! I’d better not risk it, but it’s a well-known clothing company in the UK and I think most towns and cities have one, and I really like working there!
  15. I love to travel and if I could, I’d go on a world tour – particularly to go to Greece and America!
  16. I’m currently trying to persuade my parents to let us go to Greece in the summer holidays…
  17. Although I’ve only read one Shakespeare play (Macbeth) I loved it.
  18. I wouldn’t say I’m naturally sporty but I do enjoy playing sports.
  19. My favourite colour is red at the moment, but it changes a lot.
  20. Linking on from that, I’m very indecisive. It must annoy other people because it annoys me!
  21. Apples are my favourite fruit.
  22. If I could only have pizza or pasta for the rest of my life, it would be pizza. 100%.
  23. I’m not really that into makeup – on a day to day basis I’ll wear powder, brow gel and mascara, and eyeshadow if I’m feeling fancy.
  24. Emma Watson used to be my absolute idol (and she still is but not to the same extent!) I used to wish I was Hermione and I think I believed Emma Watson was Hermione.
  25. I have an intolerance to peanuts (although it’s very mild, I have to admit).
  26. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but my favourite programmes are the Great British Bake off (obvs), Britain’s Got Talent, The Apprentice and anything police-chase related – I just find them so interesting!!
  27. I’m doing my a-levels at school; I take geography, English lit and English language.
  28. Instagram is my favourite and most-used social media.
  29. I need to remember to sign up to be an organ and blood donor.
  30. I don’t believe in a God, but I do like to think fate runs things. It takes the stress off a bit, sometimes 😉
  31. When people ask me if I’d prefer to go to a beach or city on holiday or to live (referring back to no.20!) I’ll immediately start making a pros and cons list. I love both for different reasons!
  32. I’m very clumsy but surprisingly, I’ve never broken a bone.
  33. I have partially dislocated my knee though. When standing still. :/ (interesting fact, Austrian hospitals are way way nicer than English ones!!)
  34. At school when everybody’s talking about the latest Netflix show, I can’t join in because I don’t have Netflix. One more distraction is exactly what I don’t need.
  35. I have 4 piercings, 2 in each lobe. I’m tempted to get a helix piercing too buuut I’m not sure if I can handle the pain 😂
  36. My favourite kind of people are the ones who you can start talk to about a completely random topic and know that they’re enjoying the conversation too. That feeling is great 💖
  37. I’m most likely to fall in love with a person initially for their sense of humour.
  38. Cats or dogs – probably dogs, but again, there are pros and cons!!
  39. I’m allergic to dogs and cats, which is nearly as tragic as The Titanic sinking.
  40. I once saw Lord Alan Sugar’s car! That’s going to be my claim to fame in the future.
  41. I love having copper nail varnish on at the moment.
  42. Most of the money I earn is saved for university, but what I do spend is spent on clothes, jewellery, books and magazines.
  43. Cows freak me out a bit.
  44. In the future I’d like to be in the media, writing or broadcasting – so blogging is good practise, for sure!
  45. My favourite temperature to live in is about 25°c; the hottest place I’ve ever been in is Lanzarote, which reached 41°c.
  46. I can play the flute.
  47. I used to practise ballet, but I stopped when I was about 10. I also did gymnastics for quite a while.
  48. Orange juice is probably my favourite cold drink, hot chocolate is my favourite hot drink
  49. As Ginny Weasley says, I believe anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.
  50. And finally, when I’ve worked up enough nerve, I’d love to try sky diving or bungee jumping!

So there you go, fifty facts about me – I’m surprised I could think of 50 to be honest! It feels weird to say I’m now 17: it feels so much more adult than 16!

The law of attraction – how to improve your life with only your mind

Let me preface this post by saying this: I am not a spiritual person, I’m not religious, I don’t normally believe in this sort of stuff – because let’s face it, a concept as easy and simple as this seems, on the surface, ridiculous!! And that’s exactly what I thought before I saying to myself, “you know what, I might as well try this” – and that’s precisely why I’m writing this post. If you’re like me, and not spiritual in the slightest, please bear with me and approach this idea with an open mind. After all, you never know!

(I also just want to point out that I am in no way an expert on this – with this post, I’m merely scratching the surface of the law of attraction, and just giving a brief overview of what it is and how it works. If you’re interested in it there are so many videos about it on YouTube and lots of websites dedicated to the more religious aspect of it and the philosophy behind it, so you should definitely have a read/watch of them.)

The law of attraction, at its most basic level, states that what you think is what you get. To understand it at first I mirrored it to the concept of karma, but the law of attraction relates solely to your thoughts and mindset. If you’re positive, or think positive thoughts, you’ll attract positive things, feelings and people into your life – if you’re stuck with negative thoughts, you’ll only get negative experiences back.

I think, with an explanation as woolly and unhelpful as mine probably was, some examples are the best way to highlight the power of the mindset. If you’re under a metaphorical black cloud, feeling generally low and like you’ll never break out of this cycle of unhappiness, the only thing you’ll get back is more unhappiness – whereas if you visualise yourself as being happier, you’ll become more content with what you have in the present.

The law of attraction can be used in so many aspects of life – I’ve read accounts of people using it to develop positive relationships, to gain money, happiness, to lose weight…whatever you deeply want is attainable.

The most important thing with the law of attraction is to feel as though you have what you desire, and act accordingly. Then, in the present, you’ll feel so much more content and grateful because you think you have everything you need. And, in the end, the Universe will grant you what you desire anyway – maybe not instantly, but these things have a way of working themselves out.

It still sounds quite far-fetched I know; how can your thoughts determine the experiences you have?! I’ll give you another example, although this one is personal to me. Since I was young, I’ve struggled with a phobia of germs and vomit, and last year I was at a very low point. I was so sick (pun intended!) of feeling the need to wash my hands, keep clean and hygienic and so, I used the law of attraction to begin to visualise myself taking control of my fear.

Before I continue with that paragraph, let me just clarify – I am aware that if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental illness, using the law of attraction is going to be so much more of a challenge. I know. But if you can change one negative thought a day into a positive one, and do the same the next day, and the next, and the next, at the very least you’ll become more aware that this is only a period of depression, and it will pass. I’m going to leave some links to a few websites at the bottom, including one about the law of attraction and depression, because I feel like I’m not qualified to talk about some of the stuff here – as somebody who hasn’t suffered from depression, I can only take online articles, reports and videos for granted.

Back to my story – I’d say about a year and a half ago I began to picture myself as I used to be (my phobia has developed as I’ve grown up, but I’m planning on writing a post all about that in the near future): not worrying whether this headache is an oncoming illness, not washing my hands til they’re raw. The need to want to change was essential: the determination I had was a positive thought, in its most basic terms, and so I’ve since been rewarded with a positive experience – getting my fear under control.

I’m definitely going to write some more posts on the law of attraction because even for someone as sceptical as I am about this sort of stuff, I can’t deny it works! Whilst this post only skims the surface of the concept, there are whole other websites dedicated entirely to explaining it, how to manifest your desires into your life etc, so I’m going to put a few links here:

Negative emotions don’t obey the law of attraction – this is a really good article to summarise everything I’ve covered here, and it also has another example as to how negative feelings can still lead to positive experiences.

Using the law of attraction to combat depression

57 tips for the law of attraction and abundance

UnJaded Jade’s video about the LoA

Cara xx

The book club: March

It’s finally the Easter holidays and my aim is to have read at least 2 books by the end, so hopefully next month’s post will be full with mini book reviews!! This month I’ve really enjoyed The Power, by Naomi Alderman – it was such a gripping storyline, I’d read it within days!

If you’re an astute reader of mine (actually, you don’t even have to be that astute because I say it practically every other sentence), my dream uni is Cambridge to do a degree in Linguistics, so I’ve been fuelling my interest in that this month by finally getting round to finishing Linguistics – A Very Short Introduction, by PH Matthews. I’m entering an essay competition and I’m hoping that reading around the subject a lot will help me with that, and in turn with my UCAS personal statement.

Next week we’re going to Stratford upon Avon so I felt it only right to delve into Hamlet, and I’m also going to start The Picture of Dorian Gray within the next few days which I’m really excited to read!

Playlist #1

  • Sanctify – Years & Years
  • Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man
  • Reverie – isaac gracie
  • IDGAF – Dua Lipa
  • Alors Alors – Bigflo & Oli
  • Paramedic! – SOB X RBE
  • Toothpaste Kisses – The Maccabees
  • Comptine d’un autre été, l’après-midi – Yann Tiersen
  • Silence – Marshmello ft Khalid
  • These Days – Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore
  • Decline – RAYE
  • Strangers – Sigrid
  • Cheetah Tongue – The Wombats
  • Let’s Dance to Joy Division – The Wombats

I have a very eclectic taste in music – some of my favourite tunes are quite dirge-like, yet I also love a lot of bouncy, happy songs, and as well, some are in a language I don’t speak and haven’t spoken for over 3 years 😂 Looking back through the list I feel like a lot of these artists are quite obscure (my 14-year-old-self’s internal wannabe-indie gal would be so proud) but if you haven’t heard of the song/artist on any of them, definitely have a listen! I’m interested – what is your current playlist like? It can’t just be me who has one that goes from eerie atmospheric to indie to dance to pop, surely?!