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.

Review: Too Faced Teddy Bear Hair Retractable Kabuki Brush

I'm a huge fan of a gimmick. I know I shouldn't be, but I'm so easily swayed by cute packaging, quirky details and a sense of humour. So when I saw Too Faced's brushes in Sephora made from teddy bear hair, how could I resist? 
The display assured me that it was 100% cruelty free and that no teddy bears, or any other animals, were harmed to make the brush. Phew! I don't want any teddies being hurt for my vanity. (That's not sarcasm!) 

As a retractable brush, it is really practical, and the pink metallic packaging is sturdy enough to withstand bashing about in a bag. It also looks super pretty, with the Too Faced logo on both the side and the lid of the package, which is also a bonus!

In terms of the brush itself, the fibres feel amazingly soft and luxurious. I could not stop stroking it and I was actually a little afraid to use it as it felt so wonderful. However, when I did finally bite the bullet (about 2 months after I bought it!), I was very pleased I did! The brush picks up powder really easily and applies smoothly and evenly. With the large head of a Kabuki brush, it makes application simpler which is always handy, because who has time to faff about in the morning? 

I am completely in love with this brush! This is only the second product I've used from Too Faced (the other is the Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush) but I've been blown away both times. I'm so glad the gimmicks have quality to back them up! 

Afternoon tea with Sconnoiseur

Is there anything better than afternoon tea on a Sunday? No. No there's not. Except maybe for an afternoon tea delivered straight to your door, which is exactly what happens with Sconnoiseur. Sending boxes of delicious, freshly baked scones in a whole host of flavours, Sconnoiseur is the place to go for all your afternoon tea needs and, luckily for me, I was offered the chance to review one of their seasonal boxes.
My (rather sophisticated, magnet-closure) box was carefully packaged with four pumpkin flavoured scones, along with four Twinings English Breakfast teabags, and a pot each of strawberry jam and orange marmalade. 

Having never tried more interestingly-flavoured scones like this, I was a little unsure of what to expect. However, the pumpkin flavour is subtle and not at all overwhelming. Instead, it perfectly complements the natural taste of the scones. It was interesting to see the slightly orange colour of the scones too, which obviously comes from the natural pumpkin ingredients. Both jam and marmalade had a jelly-like consistency, although not particularly thick, and each jar held enough to cover two scones thickly, although it could stretch to all four if you were a little more conservative with your spreading.

It was certainly a fun, delicious novelty and one I'd be very happy to try again. I don't know about you, but I've got my eye on the dark chocolate and orange scones!

Book review: Harold Shipman- The Doctor of Death

Harold Shipman: The Doctor of Death
I've mentioned before that I have a morbid interest in true crime, specifically serial killers. I know it's creepy but I've since found out I'm not alone so I feel a bit less weird about it! I saw this book on sale in Asda for a couple of pounds, along with one about the Moors Murders, and I couldn't resist adding them to my serial killer book collection. (Did I really just type those words?)

At first glance, this book doesn't seem to have an author although, buried deep inside the publishing information inside the book are the words "Written by Mel Plehov". If I were Plehov, I wouldn't want my name associated with this book either. Not because of the content (I've already made it quite clear that this subject matter doesn't bother me), but because of the terrible writing. 
I don't know enough about the Shipman case to attest to the factual accuracies, but the use of English is terrible. Admittedly, it's not badly written in itself. The problem is just that it reads very much like a first draft, with irritating repetition, grammatical errors and rather eclectic use of commas, full stops and ellipses. As an example, "her parents took an instant dislike to him almost instantly" is a genuine sentence found in the book. I'm left with the impression that there was no proofreading at all.
Despite the pretty poor writing, it was interesting to gain more understanding of the life and crimes of Harold Shipman. It's certainly sparked my interesting, but I'll find a higher quality book to find out more.


Kathryn visited an owl cafe in Tokyo
Eliie's photos by Allera Stone in the Natural History Museum are absolutely beautiful! 
Inadvertently Ask Amber is hilarious! 

Other Favourites
Look at these beautiful abandoned places
If you're looking to work with brands, Vescape PR have just opened their doors. 
Ever wondered how I stay warm in winter? Ok, probably not but I'm going to tell you anyway at the bottom of this page. 

Ask Her Friends Bloggers' Pick: October

I've got something exciting to tell you today and it concerns a gift website with a twist. Ask Her Friends, asks questions to help you find the perfect gift for any woman in your life, whether that's your best friend, your mum or just yourself! Where are you going with this, Becky? Well, I am a member of Ask Her Friends' new Blogger Panel! For the next few months, I will be selecting 5 items from the site to feature in the Bloggers' Pick section. 

It's not all about me though, as you can get involved too. Pop along to the site, vote for your favourite selection and you could win a £50 Ask Her Friends voucher. 

This month's theme was "Autumn", so I went along the lines of a cosy night in. 
1) This poster features the entire book of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on one page. Perfect for snuggling up for a read!
2) Curl up in a warm bath with this Deep Sleep Bath Soak.
3) For those who are a fan of hot drinks on chilly evenings, these Goldilocks mugs are ideal!
4) Light a winter scents candle to fill your room with a warming, autumnal fragrance.
5) What could be better than comfort food stewed in this Le Creuset heart-shaped casserole pot.

To find all the links to my picks, head over to the Ask Her Friends Bloggers' Panel page where you can also enter the competition to win those vouchers. Good luck! 
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