Tuesday

Speed Reviews


You may have noticed, I write a lot of book reviews. Of course, the problem there is that a lot of people don't have the time or motivation to read through huge blocks of text about a book they haven't read. To make it easier, I've introduced speed reviews. Here are the last five books I reviewed, condensed into 140 characters. Like Twitter, but for book reviews!

The Husband's Secret^Liane Moriarty
Wife discovers her husband’s dark secret and it affects three families. Good for summer reading. Predictable but entertaining enough. 4/10

Cairo^ - Chris Womersley
Naive student meets bohemian crowd and falls into art heist. Based on true events. Character development confusing and many unanswered questions. 5/10 


Comprehensive chronicle of Savile's life that began before the revelations. Difficult but important reading. Very well-written and researched. 9/10


The Strange Library^-Haruki Murakami
Boy gets locked in an underground library and makes two unlikely friends. Murakami at his surreal best. Beautiful, grown-up picture book. 8/10


Crude autobiography of Keith Lemon's fictional childhood. Naughty but clever use of dialect and very funny for those with similar humour. 7/10


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Well I certainly have a varied taste in books! This is a great cross-section of my book collection to be honest! 

^Affiliate links have been used in this post

Monday

3 reasons why you should vote (and who to vote for)



WHY SHOULD I VOTE AND WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR?

7th May is going to be a big day in the UK- It's time for our general election! I for one cannot wait. General elections always get me so excited and, yes, I'm one of those flags out to support my party people (probably not this year though, but more on that another day!). In order to vote in the UK, you have to be over 18 but you also need to register to vote. The deadline is 20th April and you can easily do it online but, if you're not registered, you will not be able to vote so it's really important you do it. 

Now, before we get started, let me ask you a couple of questions so you know whether this post is for you:

Are you under 18? Yes- go to A. No- go to B.

A- Ok, this doesn't affect you right now. Feel free to stick around though.

B- Have you registered to vote? Yes- go to C. No- go to D.


C- Awesome! You're my kind of person!

D- What? Why not? You need to vote. Like, for real! Here's why! 


BECAUSE YOU CAN

This is a huge deal to me and one of the main reasons why I get frustrated at people who do not use their vote. I'm not going to talk about the suffragettes because we all know about them, they only affected women and it was ages ok so isn't relevant today, right? Well, wrong actually but I'm still going to use a different demonstration today. There are still people today who are not allowed the vote. Women in Saudi Arabia cannot vote at all. Still. Up until 1994, black people were not allowed to vote in South Africa. This week, people in Nigeria camped overnight to vote since they lived so far from a polling station. Here in the UK, anybody and everybody over 18 can vote and there are polling stations open all day long every couple of miles. Yet our turn out in 2010 was only 65%. It makes a mockery of all those people who still, to this day, struggle to make their voices heard. Don't want to vote? Fine. Leave your ballot blank. But at least turn up, if only because you have the right to.



BECAUSE YOUR VOTE MATTERS

I know you hear this all the time but it's true- Every single part of your life is affected by politics and you can really make a difference. People always get the old "If you don't vote, don't complain" spiel, I know, but take my best friend Marie. (Sorry, Marie, but you're a great example!) "I don't care!", she says, "I know that means I can't moan so I won't moan about anything". Then she goes to the doctor and, guess what, moans about her treatment. You know what has a huge impact on the NHS? Politics. 


If you didn't like your job, or your relationship, hell, even your lunch, you'd change it right? Why is changing your country so different?

BECAUSE IT'S EASY

The other excuse that pops up over and over again is that people don't have time to vote. Yes, you do. Unless you live in the sticks, there's probably a polling centre in walking distance. Don't even think about telling me you can't make it on the day, because all polling stations are open 7am- 10pm and there's rarely a queue since, you know, 35% of people think it's none of their concern. Really, really can't make it? Never mind, you can vote by post instead! See, no excuse! 

STILL NOT CONVINCED?

Here, let me make it easy for you- What do you think of UKIP? Everyone has an opinion on UKIP! Do you think they have the right idea and should make decisions or does your heart turn cold at the thought of them getting power? Either way, go and vote! If you're against them, your vote will help stop them coming into power. If you support them... actually, don't vote. I'm kidding! If you support them, use your vote (but seriously don't vote UKIP)


OK, HOW DO I REGISTER?

Just go to the Gov.uk page and register to vote here. Easy! 


WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR?

Not UKIP
 This site, Vote for Policies, jumbles up all the policies and leaves them anonymous so you don't know which party they belong to. You can choose the issues that are most important to you, choose the policy you most agree with and, at the end, it tells you the percentage you got for each party. If you're interested, I got 100% Green but, as much as I want to, I won't be voting for them. I'll tell you all about that soon enough though! Thanks Chelsea for introducing me to the site!



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You may have figured out that this is really important to me. Just seriously go and register right now! Let me know when you have so I can send you good karma!*

*Good karma may or may not work. No guarantees, alright?

Sponsor Becky Bedbug in April


Can we officially say spring is here? Spring always makes me feel so good about blogging! There's something about the sun, the warmth, the smell of the air (does that make sense?) that just makes me insanely productive. This is boding well because, since I'm on Easter holidays, I've been making some changes to my promotion tactics and I'm seeing some real growth. What does this mean? More views on your ads! Hooray!

All my sponsors can expect three emails during the course of their sponsorship: One at the beginning, one halfway through and one at the end. These emails are an opportunity to check in with you, see how things are going and whether you want any advice. I really want my sponsorships to be based on mutual dialogue rather than just sticking your button in my sidebar.

Here's what you get:
- An advert in my sidebar for 30 days
A shoutout on Twitter
- With some options, you'll also get a mention in a sponsor post.

Let's take a peek at the stats:
  • 1900+ on Bloglovin'
  • 1300+ on GFC
  • 6100+ on Twitter
  • 14000+ visitors a month
If advertising's not your thing, there are other ways you can get involved, such as sponsored posts and PR reviews. For all the information, take a look at my sponsorship page here or contact me.

Sunday

Forward Helix Piercing Questions Answered

A huge amount of my traffic comes from people looking for information on my piercings. Analytics shows a heap of questions such as How much is a forward helix piercing, How long will my forward helix piercing take to heal? and, of course, Do forward helix piercings hurt? With this in mind, I thought it was high time I created a forward helix piercing Q&A. All of these questions are real search results, by the way!


What is a forward helix piercing?
A forward helix is a piercing at the top front of your ear. The outer rim of your ear is called the helix, so the forward helix is at the front of this rim, pretty much where your ear meets the side of your face.

Short answer: Here, have a photo. It's the one at the top.Forward Helix Piercing

How are forward helix piercings done?

First of all, your piercer will mark a spot on your ear and allow you to check if you like it. When you're happy, they will clean your ear and place a clamp on it (this doesn't hurt, although it sounds scary!) They'll quickly push the needle through your ear before putting the jewellery in. The piercing itself only takes a couple of seconds.

Short answer: The needle will be quickly pushed through in a couple of seconds. Easy!

Does getting your forward helix pierced hurt?

Ah, the age-old pain question. Of course, everybody has a difference pain threshold and certain areas will hurt people more than others. In my experience, however, the answer is yes. Yes, it hurt a bloody lot! I think this may be largely down to the fact that I was a bit cocky, having already had something like 23 piercings, and knowing I had a high pain threshold. I also got cramp in my leg at exactly the same time as the needle went in, which didn't help.

Short answer: It hurts more than most piercings but, if you go in expecting the pain, you'll probably be alright.



How long does a forward helix piercing take to heal?

Again, the question of healing is a tricky one because, not only does it differ for everyone, but it's usually hard to tell when it's completely healed. Your piercing may no longer be swollen or painful, but that doesn't mean it's healed. In my experience, it took perhaps 6 weeks to stop being tender and around 4 months to heal properly. It healed really nicely with no complications whatsoever which helped speed up the process.

Short answer: Around 3- 6 months, depending on each person.

Is it normal to have an extra long barbell to allow for swelling?

Yes! Don't panic and for the love of God, don't swap it for a short one straight away. Pretty much every piercing will swell in the aftermath and a decent piercer will put a long barbell in to allow for this. As your piercing heals, you will notice the barbell seems to grow longer as your ear goes down. At this point it's best to return to your piercer who will swap it for a shorter one to prevent it catching on anything. 

Short answer: Yes. Just go back and get it changed when the swelling dies down. 

How much are forward helix piercings?

Can you guess what I'm going to say? Again, it depends. Pricing varies wildly depending on the studio and your location. In the UK, a reputable studio will charge around £30. Don't be tempted to go for a bargain rate somewhere dodgy. It's well worth paying extra to be secure in the knowledge that you're going to have a safe piercing experience.

Short answer: In the UK, around £30 at a reputable studio.

How do I take out a forward helix piercing?

Grip the ball at the end of your barbell and firmly, but not using overt amounts of pressure, twist to the left. Remember righty tighty, lefty loosey. If it's tugging or pulling sharply on your piercing, or creating pain, wait and try again later. If you're having real trouble, pop down to your local piercing studio as most piercers are happy to help. Just remember not to take it out while it's still healing and if you feel any pain, stop!


Short answer: Twist the ball firmly to the right but only once your piercing has healed.

Can forward helix piercings grow out? How do I know if it's rejected?

Any piercing can reject but some piercings are more likely to than others. For example, surface piercings grow out very quickly. A forward helix piercing is less likely to reject but that doesn't mean it can't. If you notice anything unusual, from the piercing moving position to strange lumps and bumps, pay a visit to your piercer who will be able to advise you.


Short answer: It's unlikely but they can. See your piercer if you're worried.

How should I prepare for my forward helix piercing?

In much the same way you'd prepare for any piercing- Have a light meal before you go and make sure you're hydrated. Take a sugary snack along with you in case you feel light-headed afterwards. Stay well away from alcohol! If you have long hair, keep it tied up tight so it doesn't get in the way or catch on your jewellery after it's been done.

Short answer: Stay hydrated and eat. Tie your hair up and don't drink alcohol.

Other questions

Is a forward helix piercing worth it? YES!
Can I wear a forward helix piercing only? Wear as many piercings as you like!
Do forward helix piercings look good? Hell yeah!
Do you get your forward helix pierced at a tattoo place? You can but there are also dedicated piercing studios. I prefer to go to piercing specialists.
Do you have to get silver jewellery in your forward helix? Silver is the most popular but you can get any colour you like. Be aware that coloured metals can irritate your piercing though.
How can you cover a forward helix piercing? With your hair, I guess. They're not that easy to cover. Probably best not to get one if you're not supposed to.
How do I know if my ear is right for a forward helix piercing? You need to have enough cartilage to be able to pierce. Your piercer will be able to tell you if it's ok.
How old must you be to get your forward helix pierced? There's no legal requirement so every studio is different. I'd recommend taking an adult with you if you're under 16.
Is a forward helix piercing dangerous? Not if you go to a reputable studio and take good care of your piercing.
Should I get a forward helix piercing? If you want one!
What do people say about girls with forward helix piercings? I don't think they say anything but who cares?
What hurts after having your forward helix pierced? Your ear...
What is a double forward helix piercing? Two piercings, and therefore two pieces of jewellery, instead of one.
What side is more popular for a forward helix piercing? I have no blooming idea but who cares? Go for the side you like more!

More information
To find out more about my piercing, check out my post- Forward Helix Piercing: One Month On. For more general piercing information, I also have a similar post on my rook piercing and a chronology of all my piercings. I hope it's useful! 

Saturday

Camera Roll // March 2015


Apparently this month, I mostly took selfies and screenshots so it was pretty difficult to choose photos that didn't include my face. Sorry about that!
Drinks reception in the Hogwarts Great Hall with Leona // Deserted Diagon Alley
My natural curls // I accidentally had my MAC lipstick posted to my mum's. She sent me this!

I finally learned how to do a fishtail braid // Funny faces with Paige
Morning face! // I started clearing my wardrobe and ended up buried under clothes

My little brother was in the paper! // Me and Leona got matching nails like losers



Friday

Book Review // The Husband's Secret


The Husband's Secret*- Liane Moriarty
Like The House of Mirth, this book was sent to me by Beth, and I spent forever getting around to reading it! When I started hearing more and more good things about it, I knew I had to put it on the top of my pile.



The Husband's Secret follows the lives of different women whose lives intertwine in ways that become increasingly clear as their stories develop and close towards each other. All stories revolve around a letter found by Cecilia, written by her husband only to be opened in the event of his death. Eventually curiosity gets the better of her and she reads the letter to discover information that changes her life, and the lives of the other women, forever.

I'm going to put this out there straight away: It's predictable. As predictable as can be. I knew the secret within about 15 pages and, although I thought it couldn't possibly be that obvious, it turns out it was. The main women are irritating: Cecilia spends far too much time fussing, simpering and generally being a do-gooder and Tess needs to stop fat-shaming her beautiful, witty cousin. Rachel is adamant on ruining a man's life because she suspects him of killing her daughter and ends up neglecting her son as a result. 
Having said that, it wasn't a terrible book. It's pretty much the epitome of a summer beach read: Nothing challenging, nothing confusing. Even the parallel stories are easy to follow. It was entertaining enough and I became impatient to find out how the stories would come together even though, as I said, I didn't expect my prediction to be completely accurate. I will also say that Moriarty's use of short sentences to build up tension in the climax of the novel is well developed and certainly creates suspense.

Although the book wasn't terrible, it was far from the best book I've ever read. This may be influenced by the fact that, as a rule, I'm not interested in what you may call "light women's reading". I'd still encourage people to give it a go, though, as it seems very divisive- some people were not impressed while others absolutely loved it. For me, though, it's a four out of ten.



If entwined, character-based stories are your thing, I completely recommend JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. It's a lot more complex than The Husband's Secret but also more developed and a lot less predictable!

*This post features affiliate links

Thursday

SS15 Beauty with MAC at House of Fraser

Spring is well and truly on its way, and I'm starting to think about spring/summer beauty looks. One of the biggest trends this season is no-make-up-make-up but that doesn't really work for me. I like bright, bold, fun looks. It's probably not a surprise to you that I am all over the Moschino SS15 ready-to-wear collection. Pink! Barbie! Tacky! It's everything I love! With that in mind, I set about using products from MAC at House of Fraser to create my perfect spring/summer make up look.
MAC Pink Make UpJeremy Scott actually used MAC make up artist Lucia Pieroni for this collection, who achieved this plastic fantastic look by honing in on bright pink lips and exaggerated lashes. Since these were the two key features, I concentrated on these areas to recreate my look.

The focal point of bold, glossy lips was achieved using Pink Pigeon lipstick* which is a hot pink, similar to Candy Yum Yum but deeper and warmer toned. As it's a matte lipstick, and I wanted a glitzier statement, I topped it off with Viva Glam Miley Lipglass*. Like the Viva Glam Miley lipstick, it's a deep pink but with the addition of iridescdent blue-based sparkles for a glossy shine.
SS15 make up trends
I kept the rest of my face simple with just some foundation, concealer and a touch of coral blush but applied layers of Haute & Naughty Waterproof Lash* in Shockproof to give me those long, dark lashes seen on Moschino's catwalk. 

To tie the whole look together, I decided to keep my hair big and bouffant, and team with my kitsch, retro My Little Pony jacket for that 80s childhood theme. This is going to be my go-to look throughout summer, I think! 

Wednesday

Review // Wilko Make Up Brushes- Powder, Blusher & Concealer


Wilkinson is my weakness. No matter how much I tell myself I'm "just popping in for...", I will come out with a horde of homewares, stationery, storage boxes and so on. Needless to say, I couldn't resist when I saw these gorgeous make up brushes. To be honest, I bought them because I was hoping they'd be cheap Real Techniques dupes. They look alike so they must be similar, right?
Obviously the first thing you notice is the design. I love the sleek, sophisticated look of them and they look great on my dressing table, even if they are a teeny tiny bit close to the mark in terms of Real Techniques. Each brush costs around £3 so they're an absolutely bargain and, surprisingly enough, are actually pretty good!

Of the three I bought (there is also a foundation brush but it's always out of stock when I visited, as well as lip, eyeshadow and other basics), the powder brush is by far my favourite. It's absolutely huge and has a fluffy quality that defies its low price. When using with my powder, I find it picks up a decent amount of product and applies evenly in just a couple of swipes. 

Unfortunately, the blusher brush isn't quite as great for me. The brushes are more wiry which makes it difficult to apply evenly. No matter how much I try, I always end up with blotchy, inconsistent blusher. However, the concealer brush is more of a success. It's a decent size- fine enough for accurate application but still large enough to blend effectively. Using this brush, my concealer goes on evenly and I've found it very easy to blend outwards, although it does have a tendency to pick up too much product, even with a light touch.

Although there are a couple of problems, I am astounded by the quality for such a great price. If only they'd restock the foundation brush! 

Tuesday

Giveaway: Ideal Home Show Tickets


I don't know about you but I am blooming obsessed with homes and architecture. When I was 10, I wanted to be an interior designer, something I intended to do right until I started applying for uni and realised art school would destroy me. My childhood hero, I kid you not, was Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen (a fact I referenced here). Changing Rooms was my jam and I loved how he always broke the rules and always created something crazy that the owners absolutely hated. And you'll never guess what! Next week, thanks to British Gas, I am going to... give me a second to regain my composure... be at the Ideal Home Show in London seeing Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen speak. (Yes, I am totally wearing that frilly dress!)

As if that wasn't enough, my favourite TV architect and winner of Becky's Loveliest Voice on TV Award (I may have made that award up), George Clarke, is going to be at the Ideal Home Show the very same day. Seriously, guys, I'm crazy excited! 

Since I'm doing up my living room and all, I'm looking forward to a day of inspiration, not only for my home but also with the fashion and beauty areas and, of course, being in the presence of my childhood hero!

Anyway, all this babbling is for a very good reason because you could win 2 tickets to the Ideal Home Show yourself. The tickets are valid throughout the whole exhibition (until the 6th April) so you can go whenever is best for you! To enter, just use the form below and I will contact the winner on Friday morning! Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and conditions: Prize consists of two tickets to Ideal Home Show courtesy of British Gas. Giveaway open to all followers of Becky Bedbug. Closing date Friday 27th March at 12:00am. 

Monday

How to create an effective media kit for your blog

CREATING A MEDIA KIT FOR YOUR BLOG



WHAT IS A MEDIA KIT?

For bloggers, a media kit- also known as a media pack- is a document that explains exactly what your blog is about and what you can offer brands or advertisers who choose to work with you. It includes all the information they need to know, such as statistics, the content you post and the types of advertising you offer. Think of your media kit as a brochure for your blog. 

Sunday

Review // Lush Big Shampoo and Veganese Conditioner

As I mentioned in my most recent Lush post- a review on R&B Hair Moisturiser- I'm really amping up the effort I take in keeping my hair healthy. In doing so, I've shunned my old John Frieda Frizz Ease and instead looked to Lush for shampoos and conditioners to use. There are so many to try but I've started with Big Shampoo and Veganese Conditioner as they were part of a gift set I bought in the Christmas sales. 
Lush Veganese Big Review

Big Sea Salt Shampoo
Lush Big Sea Salt ShampooSea salt is my jam right now so I was really excited to try this shampoo. It's essentially a tub full of wet salt but, let me tell you, it feels incredible! The scent is so fresh that it's like standing in the sea breeze with notes of lemon, lime and mandarin as well as sea weed. Somehow it lathers, despite being about 80% salt, and the grains feel great on the scalp too- a shampoo and a scalp exfoliator in one! Once it has all been rinsed out, my hair feels incredibly clean and smells absolutely amazing for hours. 

Veganese Conditioner
Lush Veganese Conditioner ReviewI'm such a fan of this conditioner that I gave Leona a bottle for her birthday. First of all, the fragrance is to die for! It's a sharp lemon scent but also has hints lavender and rosemary for floral complements. The lemom juice makes up a huge part of the conditioner, which is designed to leave your hair super shiny. It also contains agar seaweed which goes beautifully with Big shampoo. Although it's a light conditioner, I find a little goes a very long way which is fantastic with my long, thick hair. This light formula also makes it much easier to rinse out than some heavier conditioners. Not only that, but I've definitely noticed my hair is much easier to tame and a lot less frizzy since using Veganese. I love it! Now that I've ventured into the world of Lush haircare, I'm excited to try some new products. I've got Curly Wurly in my sights for when Big runs out!

Saturday

Amazon Associates Blogging Event

I've recently started using Amazon Associates, which is an affiliate scheme Amazon uses, allowing you to link hundreds of thousands of products to your blog and maybe make a little commission. After using the scheme for a couple of weeks, I was invited to a bloggers' evening at Amazon HQ in London, which was perfect timing!
Before heading to the office, I met up with Paige, Natasha, Natalie, Sade, Katrina and Laura so it was lovely to have a catch up with some new and familiar faces. Once we'd reached HQ, we were shown into the event room where there were heaps of fantastically dressed bloggers as well as tables strewn with cans of drink and biscuits.

Like the eager beavers we are, Paige, Natalie and I decided to sit at the front of the room (best place for photos!) for the speakers. First up was Ella of Coco's Tea Party, who had some really fantastic advice on becoming full time before Gem, digital writer at Cosmopolitan, used her experience to discuss writing posts and articles that engage and encourage sharing. Her ultimate tip was that people share posts because it says something good about them, so you need to think about how your reader wants to portray themselves and write around that. Gem's speech was particularly entertaining as she's naturally a very enthusiastic, funny speaker. 

After these two great speakers, it was time to break for dinner. Amazon had kindly put on an amazing spread including the most delicious prawn satays and, yes, mini burgers! Every event seems to have mini burgers lately, which is something I can totally get on board with!
Once we'd filled our tummies and had a chat, we headed back to our seats to learn a little more about Amazon Fashion before some great tips on styling photos for our fashion posts from Rachel Story, stylist at Hello! magazine. This was definitely one of the most helpful talks and I left feeling incredibly inspired! In fact, I've just bought a whole chunk of pretty rings on eBay to make my photos more interesting. Finally, Reena of Fashion Daydreams shared some of her top ways to earn money through affiliate marketing.


At the end of the night, Paige, Natalie and I travelled to Waterloo to get our trains. Funnily enough, Natalie only lives a couple of miles away from me so she was going to the same station and very kindly offered me a lift home (although we did end up taking the scenic route!). 

It was such a great evening and I came out with so much new information and a heap of inspiration to draw on. Thank you so much to everyone involved! 

World Poetry Day 2015 // Three Favourite Poems


Normally when I wake up and get cosy on Twitter, I ignore the hashtags since, you know, it's normally variations of #WeLoveZayn, #ArsenalForever, #OMGZalfie and the like. Today was different. The top trend in the UK was #WorldPoetryDay which is something I can totally get on board with! To celebrate, I have chosen my three favourite poems to share with you.
Philip Larkin High Windows
If I'm completely honest, I've neglected poetry since I left college. These three poems are all works I was introduced to during my GCSEs and A Levels since I've not really paid much attention to poetry in the past 9 years. (How is it possible that I left college 9 years ago?) You'll be able to tell these were introduced to me during my ohmygoshemo phase because they're all mighty depressing. However, they are still very powerful and to this day they move me.

It's a shame I've stopped reading poetry because I really do love it and I used to enjoy writing verse too but World Poetry Day has inspired me to get my bum in gear.

Anyway, slight waffle over, here are my three favourite poems in reverse order.

#3 I Say I Say I Say- Simon Armitage

I think this is pretty self-explanatory so I won't go into too much detail. However, I love the way he has presented his poem as if it's a stand-up comedy show. Despite the depressing subject matter, it's treated as something light-hearted, a joke, easily laughed off. For me, that's a very powerful statement as to attitudes we see outwardly compared to how people are actually feeling.

#2 Mid Term Break- Seamus Heaney

It was in 2003 that I was first introduced to this poem, and Myles was 4. That was enough to have me in tears at the final line. It's so desperately sad and moving. I've never read anything that has had such a lasting impact on me as this poem has.

#1 This Be The Verse- Philip Larkin

I know, I know, I'm a massive cliché! I've written before about how I related to this poem as a 16 year old. It spoke to me on so many levels, although my views have definitely changed since!

Oh, and because I almost forgot, I'm going to slip this one in here. Whenever I wonder why I've got myself into teaching, I watch this and cry. What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali has to be one of the most powerful poems of the past few years. (It's just a shame the TDA have ripped it off for their own diluted version in their latest advert!)

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I think today I'm going to have a go at writing some poetry in honour of World Poetry Day. Wish me luck! 

Friday

FF CXXVIII


You may have noticed that I accidentally published this as an incomplete post last Friday. I've kept the original links for this week as well as adding a few more.Becky has made Miffy cookies and they're the cutest thing ever!
I loved reading about Kat's experience at Bleach.
Callie's photos from South East Asia are amazing.
Terri's post on domain authority is so helpful!
I visited Amsterdam in 2011 but wasn't blown away by it. Claire's post on her trip to Amsterdam has completely changed my mind- I need to go back!

Midge's photos of her teenage bedroom are amazing because this is exactly what mine looked like in the mid-00s.

Other Favourites

Helen has included me in her Blogs Worth a Read post, with some truly lovely words. She also has some fantastic advice for contacting PRs.
Carrie is now on YouTube and her first video is absolutely amazing.
Everyone needs to read Suzie's post on why she quit her job to understand the realities of teaching.

Book review // Cairo


Cairo^ - Chris Womersley
c/o Quercus
When I first saw this book in the publication catalogue, I was drawn to the art plot line. Not enough general fiction books are about art, in my opinion! Add a heist and it sounded right up my street!

As you may have already worked out, Cairo is, at its most basic, a novel about the planning of an art heist. Tom, an eighteen year old approaching his first year of university, moves into his late aunt's apartment in a Melbourne building named Cairo in order to be closer to his college. However, before his studies start, he is taken under the wing of a bohemian group living in the same building, who convince him to abandon his plans for university and join them as they plan to steal the greatest work in the National Gallery- Picasso's Weeping Woman.  Interestingly, although Womersley's novel is fiction, it is based around true events. Weeping Woman really was stolen from an Australian art gallery in 1986 and Womersley draws heavily on this. Many of the facts from the case, such as the recovery of the painting in a locker and the note left by the thieves, are visited in the text with an imagined backstory behind them. I found this to be an interesting mix of fiction and non-fiction. As the heist drew ever closer, the suspense mounted and I became more and more impatient to find out how it would pan out. This added a thrilling edge to the novel that made it a real page-turner.
However, I was confused as to why the group took on Tom and why he instantly latched onto them. Apart from the superficial reasons- Tom had a car which could be used as a getaway vehicle and he fell in love with the ringleader's girlfriend- there was no real development of this. Just bam! Trust everywhere. There's an argument for how easily manipulated Tom is but he's a smart, mature guy- certainly wise enough for his parents to trust him living alone in a different city- so why was he so easily swayed? How come a man he had known for only a few days convinced him to drop his studies? There were a lot of unanswered questions that could have been easily addressed.  
Although I enjoyed the book, and there's no doubt that it was certainly thrilling and engaging, I found it difficult to fully submerse myself within Tom's world. It was hard to suspend my disbelief when there was so much more to be explored in terms of the relationships between Tom and his new friends. Ultimately, once I'd finished the novel, I found it forgettable. A shame as I certainly enjoyed it while reading so, all things considered, I would give this book five out of ten.In terms of mixing real events with fiction, I really recommend both of Jonas Jonasson's novels, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. Similarly, Timur Vermes's Look Who's Back takes a hypothetical look at what would have happened if factual events had continued into the future. All three are great, hilarious reads.

^ Affiliate links have been used in this post.

Thursday

Sponsor Shoutout: Oddly Lovely


This month, I'm very lucky to be sponsored by the wonderful Cat of Oddly Lovely. Cat is a happy lifestyle blogger living in California, so she's perfect if you're a UK blogger looking to follow more international blogs. Her cheerful disposition and wonderful way with words are worth following as it is, but if you want more reasons, here you go:

1. Her posts are so thoughtful and well-written
This post on blogging friendships is the perfect example. Cat explains what's great about them but also delves into some of the complications such as competition and miscommunication. It's well worth a read! She has also written a wonderful post on divorce from the perspective of a child with divorced parents. I had a similar upbringing, so it's something I completely relate to. 

2. She has great advice... on everything!
If you need some blogging advice, Cat is a great person to turn to. As a social media expert who has spent time working with bloggers on behalf of brands, she knows exactly what makes an effective blog and is happy to share her advice. This post on what brands look for in a blogger is a great example. It's not all blog advice though. As a pagan, Cat shares advice on how to live a more magical life which is really interesting, even if, like me, you're not into paganism yourself. 

3. FOOD!

Like food? This is the blog for you! Whether tomato and ricotta focaccia toast or chocolate chip cookies are your thing, you'll definitely find a recipe that's up your street!

Can we also take a moment to appreciate how beautiful Cat's photography is?

You can follow Oddly Lovely on Bloglovin' here and Cat is also on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

If you'd like to see your blog here, check out my sponsorship page.

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