Waterstones Murder Mystery: Day Three

Halloween is fast approaching and I am super excited! Just to make the following fortnight even more thrilling, Waterstones are hosting an online blogger murder mystery, which I've been selected to get involved in. On five occasions over the next two weeks, myself and the other four bloggers will be posting diary entries from our terrifying, and murderous, "experience"  (Don't worry- it's totally fictional!) and tweeting hints, allowing everyone to get involved and try to work out the killer! If you're correct, you could win a £50 voucher. My fellow bloggers are: DaisyGeorginaSian and Beth, who will be posting their own diary entries based on their experience. Check out their posts for more clues! Find out more here and read my first diary entry here

Day Three

Dear Diary,

Last night I thought things were as bad as they were going to get. I'm writing this just before bed but it looks like I won't be leaving in the morning after all. Due to the events that unfolded just a couple of hours ago, The Librarian has placed the mansion on lockdown. I have to admit, it makes me feel very uncomfortable that I'm not allowed to leave, but I assume the police have made it a necessary measure.

After Sian's mysterious experience, The Librarian had the idea of hosting a banquet to lighten the mood. I think we were all relieved to have a distraction, so were fully on board. Although I offered to assist, he insisted on tending to every aspect of the feast on his own. However, I mustn't grumble as the food was absolutely delicious! Warm meats stacked up on plates that glistened aside steaming hot roast potatoes and the most deliciously flavoured vegetables. Ornate silver gravy boats were passed around and we were free to help ourselves to any of The Librarian's ample vintage wines, although I passed on this. Once we'd eliminated every morsel, he brought out dessert: the most exquisite apple pie with flaked puff pastry and subtle sprinklings of cinnamon. The Librarian must have the most exceptional chef, although I must admit to having not seen any staff during my stay here.
During the meal, we all loosened up a little, perhaps due to the roaring fire that crackled behind us and filled the room with a welcoming glow. Even The Librarian seemed less stern than usual, and went so far as to make some jokes. Despite this jovial atmosphere, there was one dark shadow on the peripheral, and that was the non-attendance of Sian. Understandly shaken up from her experience by the lake, she had chosen to take refuge in her room.

Before we had finished the meal, Beth decided to check on Sian for this reason. We all wanted to make sure she was coping with her trauma, and Beth had offered to take some food up. With the chattering continuing, it was some time before we realised that Beth hadn't returned, and we wondered aloud whether Sian was keeping her. Just as we were deciding to pop upstairs, we heard a frantic pounding of running footsteps and Beth burst into the dining room with all the force of a sudden storm. 

From what Beth told us, she'd encountered Sian lying still on her bed but, as Beth backed out of the dark room so as not the disturb the sleeping girl, her eyes had sharply jolted open and revealed themselves to be a glistening, demonic red. With a hiss, Sian revealed pointed porcelain fangs and had leaped at Beth with such speed that it knocked her backwards in shock. Despite Sian's startling, and quite unaccounted for strength, Beth had managed to fight her off and, in the following struggle, knock her unconscious. 

On relaying her shocking tale to us, Sian collapsed into the closest seat. The Librarian rushed upstairs with impossibly long strides, while Daisy and I comforted Beth, who was trembling like a leaf in the breeze. 

Shortly afterwards, The Librarian returned and informed us that, although there were clear signs of a struggle, Sian was nowhere to be seen. Just like Georgina and Piku, she has disappeared.

It was at this point that The Librarian forbade us to leave the house. I assume he'd spoken to the police while upstairs, as they were still on the property, and they must have told him to keep everybody in one place. Although we are free to move around the house, we must not leave the building. Presumably this is because one of us may be a suspect, although The Librarian seems convinced that it must be the work of a creature. All his horror reading seems to have gone to his head, as he believes this thing is from a work of fiction and has been obsessively studying his books for the past two hours.

Hopefully everything will be a lot clearer in the morning. The police are still around, so surely no harm can come to the rest of us.


Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

Ooh, I'm having a real festive time this week, aren't I? I warned you that it's never too early for Christmas in my eyes! Today I'm kicking off my Christmas gift guides with a fairly simple recipient in mind: A girl who enjoys cute, quirky items and snacking. Essentially, I'm writing a gift guide for myself! The best thing about this gift guide is that I've road tested each item, so I can attest to whether it's actually a decent gift. 

Heart bowls- Treat Republic, £34.99
You know that big heart bowl that every blogger has (including me!)? These are an adorable mini version of these. The ceramic bowls are the perfect size for dips, or even for personal servings of the likes of crisps or popcorn. It's easy to hold the bamboo tray, due to the recesses hidden underneath, and it can even be personalised to add a special touch. 

Baked In Chocolate Mug Brownies- Baked In, £4.95

I am seriously impressed with this product! Anybody who knows me will know that I am The Worst Cook Ever. Rich once laughed at me because I thought you boiled eggs to make scrambled eggs (I'm still not convinced that you don't). However, I made this mug brownie completely on my own. It took about 3 minutes, it was super easy and tasted absolutely delicious. So impressed!

This is the source of chocolatey goodness!

Scottie Dog Hand Warmer- Treat Republic, £5.99

Although I love Christmas, winter is not my friend! It's too cold and my fingers freeze up easily, so a hand warmer is the perfect stocking filler for chilly girls like me! Not only is the dog design super cute, but I'm convinced this thing is magic. Just snap the metal disk that's inside, and instantly the gel solidifies, warming as it does so. I was probably a bit too excited but I cannot wait to use this as the mornings get colder! 

Jute Sack- Treat Republic, £7.95

Of course, you're going to need something to stash all the presents for your lucky recipient. Jute sacks like this one are festive but looks absolutely beautiful against the Christmas tree, especially for people who identify with the traditionally rustic festive aesthetic. It's also absolutely huge, so you can stuff it to the brim with lots of lovely gifts! 

I don't know about you, but writing this post has made me super excited for December! Not long now! 

Items have been sent to me for review but all opinions are my own. For more information on collaboration opportunities, visit my sponsorship page

Waterstones Murder Mystery: Day Two

Halloween is fast approaching and I am super excited! Just to make the following fortnight even more thrilling, Waterstones are hosting an online blogger murder mystery, which I've been selected to get involved in. On five occasions over the next two weeks, myself and the other four bloggers will be posting diary entries from our terrifying, and murderous, "experience"  (Don't worry- it's totally fictional!) and tweeting hints, allowing everyone to get involved and try to work out the killer! If you're correct, you could win a £50 voucher. My fellow bloggers are: DaisyGeorginaSian and Beth, who will be posting their own diary entries based on their experience. Check out their posts for more clues! Find out more here and read my first diary entry here

 Day Two

Dear Diary,

I can't quite believe this, but things here are getting stranger and stranger. We've yet to find Georgina, which is starting to worry me, and there's no trace of her dog either. At first, I wasn't too worried. I assumed she'd gone home in the night, and perhaps thought the blood was just an elaborate hoax played by The Librarian. After all, he is a horror fan. Who knows what macabre past times he may have.

Undeterred by the strange disappearance, I spent the rest of the day reading in the library. It truly is a most remarkable place. Shelves are creaking from the full bodies of dusty tomes lined up like headstones in a cemetery, stretching intimidatingly to the ornate, gilded ceiling. Rickety ladders are dotted around the room, propped tentatively against the groaning stacks. In the centre of the room are two plush armchairs in silk of burgundy, and a worn leather couch with hide cracked like dry earth. 

Settling down into one of the deceptively battered armchairs with a book written by Ambrose Bierce, my descendant himself, I found the thin light soothing, if a little gloomy. To be completely honest, the novella, titled The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter, swept me up as if I were a delicate leaf on the wilting tree of an autumn's eve. Before I knew it, I could barely read the words imprinted on the frayed pages. To my surprise, when I reluctantly closed the book and raised my head heavily, both Beth and Daisy had joined me. Their arrival had passed without my noticing, so it was with a startled jolt that I greeted them.

After a brief, slightly wary chat, I padded over the protesting oak floorboards and pushed open the sturdy library door, trying my best not to disturb the sinister peace that had fallen over the room. As I made my way through the labyrinthine rooms, a weighty thud reverberated from the direction of the front door. Thinking that Georgina had returned, I hastily scurried into the grand entrance hall, only to find it abandoned. Curiously, I threw open the doors so as to spot any departing guests, and saw the back of Sian's auburn curls flouncing hurriedly toward the tempestuous lake. 

Not 30 minutes later, I again heard the thump of the front door and returned to the entrance hall where I found Sian. Eyes wild and frantic from some unseen horror, her clammy skin was the sikly-grey colour of porridge and she shook as if caught in a bitter wind. The Librarian quickly appeared and swooped upon Sian, draping one slender arm over her shoulders like a wing. When she spoke, it was in a brittle, damaged voice, barely above a whisper and with a distinct growl that seemed to lurk somewhere within her soul. Between panicked gasps of air, she managed to sputter that she had seen a gigantic monster in the lake however, when we questioned her further, she withdrew within herself from fear and furiously shook her head, refusing to answer. As The Librarian led her back to her room, he informed us that he would call the police, who were still in touch from the previous night's disappearance.

The police arrived within minutes, no doubt concerned by the latest development, and, from my claustrophobic room, I could spot them swarming around the lake. I soon discovered that they had located more blood, this time confirmed as that of a human, and some small metal objects hidden in the rushes that cling to land. What these objects are exactly was unclear and I suppose they can't mention too much at this point.

Could this really be The Librarian playing a hoax? If so, he's gone a bit too far. I'm feeling particularly uncomfortable. It's too late to do anything now, so I will stay one more sleep, but I will head home in the morning. I cannot stay another 24 hours in this place.


Funky Christmas Jumpers

Jumper: c/o Funky Christmas Jumpers
Leggings: New Look

Some may think it's a little early to begin Christmas preparations, but I will never, ever be one of those people! You realise December is less than 6 weeks away? For me, the entirety of December is taken up by Christmas, so I need to be ready way before then!

If you've been reading my blog over Christmases past, you'll know that I am a huge advocate for Christmas jumpers (proof here and here). So when I was contacted by Funky Christmas Jumpers, I was all over it!

They kindly sent me this elf jumper which, I kid you not, is the identical jumper worn by Harry Styles here. I feel so down with the kids right now! I ordered a size large and, as you can see, it fits my chubby frame perfectly, so you don't need to size up. It's so warm and snuggly, with real buttons and a flappy collar. Just look how happy it's made me! 

New Look Inspire AW14: Sequin Dress

Dress: c/o New Look

This is the time of year when I start thinking about my Christmas Dress. Every year I buy a new dress/skirt to wear on Christmas eve (as you can see here and here). Sequins are a staple, so this dress from the New Look Inspire range is perfect! Pretty silhouette? Check! Gold? Check! Sequins? Check check check! 

The sequins are a bit tricky on the bodice. They stick to the zip, which makes it difficult to put on (and even more difficult to take off!) without a helper, and they are seriously scratchy! Definitely a dress to be worn over long sleeves, or under a cardigan. However, the floaty skirt is so pretty and delicate, and I love how festive it is.

Roll on Christmas! 

Waterstones Murder Mystery: Day One

Halloween is fast approaching and I am super excited! Just to make the following fortnight even more thrilling, Waterstones are hosting an online blogger murder mystery, which I've been selected to get involved in. On five occasions over the next two weeks, myself and the other four bloggers will be posting diary entries from our terrifying, and murderous, "experience"  (Don't worry- it's totally fictional!) and tweeting hints, allowing everyone to get involved and try to work out the killer! If you're correct, you could win a £50 voucher. My fellow bloggers are: DaisyGeorginaSian and Beth, who will be posting their own diary entries based on their experience. Check out their posts for more clues! Find out more here

Day One

Dear Diary,

Today has been such a strange day! A few days ago, I received a mysterious letter from a man going only by the pseudonym The Librarian. Apparently, he's a prolific book-collector and he requested I attend his get-together of the descendants of famous horror authors. Although I didn't know it, I'm actually a distant relative of Ambrose Bierce, the writer of The Devil's Dictionary, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace in October 1913- 101 years ago today.

Dusk was descending as my cab shuddered down the narrow gravelled path towards a pair of rusting gates. To my surprise, there was no modern intercom system, so the driver had to climb down from his seat and heave the gates apart, which creaked open with an eerily lupine howl. Despite this unsettling introduction to The Librarian's home, my driver showed no concern and merely looked at me darkly as he re-entered his car. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I saw a flicker of wry amusement cross his face.

We continued rumbling into the depths of the unfamiliar estate, trees thickening on either side as I felt myself become more and more disassociated from my life at home. Gradually, a dark silhouette loomed on the horizon and, as we approached, it became apparent that this was The Librarian's mansion.

With a shudder, the taxi halted at the foot of this strange, imposing building. A bitter wind whipped around me and took me by surprise as I opened the door and clambered down from my seat. Without a word, the driver took off but, when I looked behind in shock at his sudden departure, he had vanished. I was left alone outside a dark, unfamiliar building, clutching my jacket around me for comfort.

Looking toward the deepening indigo above me, I could see turrets that jutted into the starless sky like daggers, twisting into gnarled branches that caught my breath and threw it out into the vicious, biting wind. Leaves twisted and twirled at my feet in a macabre, silent waltz, leading to the blackened stone of the building that stood guard before me. No hint of light or warmth flickered from within; although I could see many windows, they were soulless mirrored eyes that cast judgement on me from above.

In the distance, an inhuman screech shattered the silence. I was involuntarily thrown forwards by my own feet in an act of fear, which was enough to knock me out of my wary stupour. Taking a deep breath for courage, I determinedly stepped forwards and knocked with conviction on the sturdy oak door, half-expecting it to creak open of its own accord.

Of course that didn't happen. My knock was attended to by The Librarian himself, a tall, slender man who, despite his aging years, appeared surprisingly lithe. Remnants of grey hair still clung to his temples, astride piercing storm-grey eyes that stared inquisitively into my own. Reaching out to shake my hand, I noticed that he had extraordinarily long, pale fingers, at the ends of which were slightly pointed, almost claw-like nails.

"Ah", he started, with a not entirely pleasant grin, showing a row of yellowed teeth that were crammed crookedly into a too-small mouth. "Don't tell me! With those curls, you must surely be the relative of Ambrose Bierce! Becky, unless I am much mistaken? A real talent, he was. A pity, really".

His voice was thin and reedy, which did little to put me at ease. However, in spite of my misgivings, his home was surprisingly warm and he did appear to be a kind-hearted gentleman. After taking my jacket, he lead me into the parlour where the other descendants were gathered. We chatted for a while, during which time I began to relax and forgot about my initial fears. The other girls were friendly and, as we settled down in front of the crackling fire, we warmed to each other. One of my companions, Georgina has the most beautiful dog named Piku. He is the cutest little thing, and we all had a wonderful time petting and fussing over him. The Librarian was nowhere to be seen, which was strange, but he returned at around 11pm to explain that he had had rooms made up for us and would show us to them.

Leading us around his home, The Librarian shared the story of his book-collecting. It all started when he was a small child, and his mother would read to him each night. A rather unusual boy, he always preferred the spooky stories but after her unfortunate, yet unexplained, death when he was 10, he began seeking out horror books of his own accord. Over time, his collection grew and grew, until he became the respected collector that he is today. Supposedly, there are books in every room of this rather gigantic house, including a whole archive in the basement. I can't wait to find out more!

My quarters are, like everything in this house, unusually old-fashioned. The stone floor is softened only by a threadbare Persian rug at the foot of my walnut four-poster bed. Heavy burgundy drapes hang from the intricately carved posts, and drapes like a waterfall onto the matching duvet covering a fairly firm mattress. Bare of excess furniture, my room merely contains an old, ornate chest below a narrow pointed window that overlooks the mysteriously swirling lake. Unlike the parlour downstairs, this room is cold and unwelcoming, but the weighty bedlinen provides all the warmth I need.

Whilst I was getting ready for the night, I couldn't shake off the feeling that a pair of unseen eyes were watching me. There are no curtains at the window, but I am high in one of the rising turrets and there are no windows overlooking my room. Opening my bedroom door to peer into the hallway, I saw nothing and was slightly reassured but, just as I pulled the door to, I thought I caught the wisp of a shadowy figure in the corner of my eye. Squinting down the narrow walkway, it was clear that nobody was there. To be honest, I was very tired from all the travelling, so I wrote it off as a figment of my imagination and crawled into bed. 

The next thing I knew, my room was filled with a weak grey light. It was morning, but I could hear no birdsong, nor sense any sign of movement around me. Pulling my clothes on, I headed downstairs groggily, where I bumped into Sian. She looked strangely nervous, and the reason why became quickly evident. Georgina and Piku, her adorable little dog, have both disappeared. Although I don't want to worry, her room was discovered covered in blood, with a diary found open on the bed. I'm sure there's a perfectly rational reason, and the police have been called, so I'm not too concerned at the moment, but it is a bit strange.

Stranger still is that, during breakfast, Daisy mentioned that she had seen a mysterious grey figure the night before. As it turns out, all of us have had a similar experience. I am starting to feel a little uncomfortable, but there's surely nothing sinister going on.

I'll let you know how events unfold.


New Look Inspire AW14: Peplum Dress

Dress: c/o New Look

I think it's safe to say that we are well and truly in autumn now, and I'm definitely making the most of the high street's new season. New Look kindly sent me this peplum dress from their plus size Inspire autumn range. I genuinely believe that Inspire is the best range for plus size girls. The fit is always perfect, the clothes are comfortable and it's all affordable too. 

This black bodycon dress was my outfit of choice when Rich and I went to see Dave Gorman last week. I've never had a little black dress before, so I'm very excited. It's true what they say about the LBD- it's so versatile. 

My favourite thing by far is the peplum. I'll admit that I have a bit of a pot belly going on and, of course, bodycon tends to highlight this issue. However, with the cleverly placed peplum, I get the figure-hugging effect but my tummy is hidden away. Genius! Unfortunately, I have the shortest torso in the world, so the peplum sits about halfway down my hips, but I love it regardless.
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