Blogger Book Nook: Summer Romance

This month’s Blogger Book Nook prompt and Q&A surrounded summer romance! I’m cheating this month and using a book I read last month (shh don’t tell anyone) but it was such a good book, I wanted to review it on my blog and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

To switch it up, I’ll start with the review!

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Gelato follows Lina as she goes to Florence to stay with a man she has only just discovered is apparently her father, following her mothers death. Once there she is given her mother’s journal from the time when she was in Italy. What follows is the story of both Lina and her mother falling in love with Italy and meeting charming Italian men.

This book is so wonderful, it had me laughing, crying, jumping up and down… ALL the emotions. Overall, even if the book starts with Lina talking about her mother dying, this is such a happy, positive book! It is a YA, contemporary romance so it is the perfect summer romantic read for anyone who wants romance but not a full-on, sexual one. It’s also wonderfully written so that the two stories complement each other, rather than being annoying. I found it super engaging because there are so many twists and turns in the plot. It also made me want to go back to Florence immediately, so if anyone wants to arrange that – that’d be wonderful haha. You will most likely fall in love with Italy and want gelato immediately.

Q&A

1. Are you a fan of the classic summer romance read? Or do you tend to pick up another genre when you go on holiday?

I LOVE reading romance in the sunshine! However, definitely not back to back. So, when I’m on holiday I will tend to read a wide selection of different genres so that I don’t get bored of reading.

2. Who’s your favourite romance author and what’s your favourite book written by them? Why?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a favourite romance author because it isn’t a genre I read that much of. However, I have read the majority of Freya North’s books simply because I enjoy her writing style! Plus, Cat is the book that made me love the Tour de France so I will always love her books for that reason.

3. Love triangles… yay or nay?

Ughhhh, okay once in a blue moon they can be well done but the majority of the time it is a hard no.

4. If you were stranded on an island, what book WOULDN’T you want to be stuck with?

Any John Green book? No, that’s harsh, I haven’t read all of his books. Let’s say An Abundance of Katherines. I might give John Green another chance someday soon but that book is one I never want to read again, even if it was the only one I had.

5. If you were a character in a romance novel, what would be your ideal/dream love story?

Ooooh, I don’t know! How about a medieval fantasy setting, somewhere warm with tents. I’m a knight (obviously), he is too, we both save each others lives… something like that? Add a sprinkle of magic and a good river to wash the stink of armour off haha.

Do you love romance novels? If you know of any set in Italy, I’d love a recommendation!

xo Fleur xo

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FairyLoot Unboxing and Review – April

I know I’m very late with this unboxing but seeing as I wanted to review the book AND it was such a good box, I thought I might as well pop this post up!

FairyLoot is a subscription box where each month you get a book (YA, Fantasy) and a box full of bookish goodies each month for £32.95 including shipping to the UK. You can find my review of the March box here.

The theme in April was Whimsical Journeys and was possibly the best FairyLoot box I’ve received. First I’ll review the book, then I’ll talk about what else was inside the box.

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

Beyond a Darkened Shore is set in ancient Ireland following Ciara, a princess who has the ability to control the minds and actions of the people around her. This obviously makes her the target of fear and animosity. With this backdrop, alongside the raids by Northmen, Ciara hears warnings from a mysterious crow that is following her round, about the destruction of the world.

This book combines Celtic and Norse mythology, along with a good helping of magic, romance, war and journeying. I’ve actually read a fair few books with a mythological basis recently and I’m really enjoying them and want to read more, however, this wasn’t my favourite. Also, content warning for mention of and attempted rape.

I loved the first chunk of this book, up to the point where the journey starts and then I loved the end of the book but the middle section lost me a little. I wasn’t particularly invested in the characters, especially Ciara, and I didn’t love the romance aspect. I think I enjoyed the concept of this book more than the general execution but if Celtic and Norse mythology is your thing and you love a book with a journey, this could be for you.

Inside the box!

First up is the Reusable Narnia Coffee Mug designed by Ink and Wonder, I think this is so stunning and I can’t wait to use it now I’ve finally taken a photo of it! It is also dishwasher safe which means I will actually use it, rather than wanting to use it but never actually doing so because I hate washing up…

The next item is equally awesome – it’s a The Hobbit tote bag designed by Stella’s Bookish Art! I’ve actually seen someone on my street with this bag and I almost squealed with excitement, if I’d had mine with me I’d have gone up and said hi but as it was I didn’t want to be too weird. It’s such a cool bag!

Next up is a candle that ties in with the book, Leif’s Ship Candle from Flick The Wick and it smells suitably gorgeous. I wish I had burnt it alongside reading the book as it would have helped it become more atmospheric! I always forget to do this though.

I’m not so excited by the magical beasts luggage tag from Lovely Owls Books (I can’t find a website for them). Unfortunately, I’m not a Harry Potter fan but I will pass this onto someone who is and will hopefully enjoy it!

The Blackjack enamel pin designed by Taratjah is so lovely. I haven’t read any of the Percy Jackson books yet but I’m hoping to remedy that this year. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a pegasus pin.

I don’t adore the Carpe Diem notepad from Little Inkling Designs, possibly because I haven’t read The Darkest Minds. However, it will definitely be useful, I’ll probably take it into work with me for making notes.

The final main item was the Fictional Places art print created by Fictiontea Designs and I would absolutely adore this if the top and largest place sign wasn’t Hogwarts. WHY why why? I get that everyone apart from me loves HP but ugh it’s a bit much now where it’s taken over everything?

The box also contained a letter from the author, a print and sticker for Beyond a Darkened Shore, a signed bookplate, a bookmark for The Fates Divide, a pin badge for Ace of Shades and the FairyScoop newsletter.

Overall I think this was such an awesome box and I’m so happy to have bought it!

If you get subscription boxes are there any items that you’re bored of seeing? I know when I got Glossybox, I didn’t want to see any more black eyeliners!

xo Fleur xo

I know I’m getting better

CW: suicide, self harm.

Mental health awareness week last month prompted me to finally finish writing this. It’s involved a lot of tears and because recovery most definitely isn’t linear it felt wrong publishing it when I wasn’t actually feeling better. I couldn’t post this when my depression was a wave of darkness consuming my brain again but I’m feeling strong this week, so here we go.

I didn’t think I was getting better when I came off my antidepressants, I knew I wasn’t. I also knew I couldn’t cope with the side effects, so something had to change. I knew I was getting worse when I’d turn the tv on and not even watch it all evening. I knew I was struggling when the only thing that got me through the day was food. Something is slowly changing though.

I knew I was getting better when I did something in my six week summer holiday. When I didn’t walk down stairs having just woken up at 10am, go back to sleep on the sofa till 4pm before going back to bed at 11pm. I may not have done much but it was something. Comparatively, it was loads.

I knew I was getting better when I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses and then devoured the entire rest of Sarah J Maas’ published works in a month. I know I’m getting stronger because I’ve read 124 books this year and counting. I’m starting to find pleasure in life again. I’m also finding that reading helps my mental health!

I knew I was getting better when I was able to drive the car by myself without constantly visualising crashing it. Constantly wondering what would happen if I did drive into the central barrier at 70mph.

I knew I was getting better when one day I saw a tweet about self harm and realised I hadn’t even wanted to hurt myself for a few months. It hadn’t been something consuming my thoughts for hours every day.

I knew I was getting better when I had an argument and my first thought wasn’t ‘if I was dead they wouldn’t have to deal with me and they’d be so much happier’. When I realised that yeah, it’s been bloody hard but I love the people I’m close to and I’m pretty certain that if they’ve put up with all this shit, they love me too.

I knew I was getting better when I had a nap one afternoon and then couldn’t get to sleep that evening. It was annoying but it made me beyond happy.

I knew I was getting better when I started trying different makeup on a regular basis. When I started wearing lipstick again. When I started trying to do something with my hair. When I started caring what I wore again. When I started picking out different earrings on a daily basis, not just the same one pair I’d worn for years.

I know I’m getting better because I’ve managed to start cooking again. Rather than shoving a bowl of soup in the microwave, or a pizza in the oven, I’ve been making meals. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be having oven pizzas but I can manage more now. Not every day but more often. What’s more I want to cook again. It doesn’t feel so much like a chore anymore.

I know I’m getting better because I’m excited to start exercising regularly again. Sure, I’m starting slowly but I’m excited. I’m also excited to start exercising because I LOVE it, not because I think I need to. Not because I ‘should be’ doing it because I ‘should be’ trying to lose weight. I’m so happy to have found body positivity.

I know I’m getting better because I’ve been to book talks. I’ve been to London twice by myself and I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t have a breakdown, actually I was excited and content.

I know I’m getting better because I’m putting stuff in the diary again. I feel able to see people and do things. I’m going to see live music, I’m planning on going to book conventions and maybe other events? The thought of doing those things doesn’t make me feel anxious and sick. I’m not wondering whether I’ll have the energy – I’m ready. I’m also not concerned that it’s going to leave me lying in bed for days after because interacting with other people was so exhausting.

I know I’m getting better because I’m slowly starting to feel excited to plan for the future. I believe I deserve a future, that I’ll have a future and I deserve to be happy.

xo Fleur xo

Blogger Book Nook: Time Machine

This post is super late but the content itself is still relevant, even if I’m a month late in posting it – so I thought I’d post it anyway!

I was so excited when I saw the prompt for last months Blogger Book Nook read – historical fiction! I used to be completely obsessed with historical fiction and I’ve read a few wonderful books from the genre recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the first book I read for this prompt – so I ended up reading another, which definitely contributed to this post being late!

If you didn’t know, the Blogger Book Nook is an awesome Facebook group run by Abbey and Tabitha where we get to chat about books and there’s a prompt and Q&A each month. It’s basically the only reason I still have Facebook!

Q&A

1. If you could time travel either to the past or the future, which would you pick and why?

The future, obviously that could be a horrendous idea too but I feel like being a woman in the past was pretty awful for a good chunk of history. Though if the future turns out to be awful too, that’d be heartbreaking.

2. Historical novels aren’t always accurate in their details – is this something that bothers you? Why/why not?

I feel like it depends. If it’s a very fictional historical fiction, with fictional characters but set in a past time, I’m fine with inaccuracies. If it’s portraying real historical figures I prefer the book to be as accurate as possible. Though realistically it’s unlikely I’ll know whether it’s accurate or not!

3. Is there one specific historical era that especially interests you? What novels set in that time would you recommend?

I used to be completely obsessed with the Tudor era and I’d definitely recommend Philippa Gregory’s novels. Also, it’s more of a straight up history book but I found Elizabeth: Apprenticeship by David Starkey absolutely fascinating.

4. Which historical figure (fictional or real!) would you most like to have dinner with?

Honestly I’m so awkward that having dinner with someone I don’t already know is my nightmare. Can I just go with any historical figure who is an awesome chef, so they can cook me something incredible?

5. Do you find historical fiction an appealing genre? Why/why not?

Yes! I love getting an insight into the past without having to actually read non-fiction. I think it’s so interesting seeing how different societies worked and how people behaved. I think it’s always interesting to make that comparison to how things are now.

So I actually ended up reading two books for last months prompt because I didn’t love the first one and I didn’t want another negative review! So, you get two little reviews.

So the first book I read was Dictator by Robert Harris which wasn’t a particularly bad book but I didn’t find it engaging. It’s the third book in a series and I can imagine it being a better read if I had read the first two. The book is set in the Roman Empire following the end of Cicero’s life and whilst a lot happens, it feels a lot like he’s just permanently on a relatively boring journey. It is also in the form of a biography written by his secretary and eh, it wasn’t my favourite format.

The second book I chose was Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen. This is a YA book set in Nazi Germany, following Sarah, a 15 year old Jewish girl who luckily doesn’t look Jewish. I don’t want to spoil the story but you’d get this from reading the blurb… She ends up as a spy in a school for the daughters of the higher up Nazi’s. As you can imagine this is both terrifying and fascinating.

I will say this should probably have a content warning for paedophilia and attempted rape. If those are triggers for you, you might want to avoid this book. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I do wish books had content warnings in the same way films and games do.

This is such a good story, really immersive, fast-paced, edge of your seat – I loved it. If you’re looking for a true story, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a super realistic story that could definitely have happened, again this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a story that is epic, well constructed, that doesn’t have gaping plot holes, even with the slight feeling of unreality, this IS it. If you’re looking for a quick, well written summer read that is historical fiction mixed with a thriller, this could be perfect!

Do you love historical fiction? What time period is your favourite?

xo Fleur xo

YouTubers Made Me Buy It #3

I’ve really enjoyed putting together posts of purchased that have been totally inspired by YouTubers, Bloggers and Instagrammers. So, here’s some more!

As before, not all the products are cruelty free because they’re ones I’ve had for a while. So, I’ll put a little CF next to the ones that are.

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You can really tell from the photo how little I used the Rosie for Autograph Eyeshadow Palette in Deco Diamonds CF. I still can’t get over how excited I was for this launch and then how disappointed I was with the products. The matte brown shade is alright but the others are a bit rubbish, so I can’t create a cohesive look using this palette. It needs to go.

I’ve used the Covershoot Cosmetics Neon Palette exactly twice. I can’t remember the people who recommended this but they clearly can’t have been used to the quality I expect from bright eyeshadows. I’m keeping this purely for making a mess with. When I want shadows I don’t mind wetting to create something ridiculous. It’s perfect for that!

Ooooh, a product I actually love? The Sleek MakeUp Contour Kit in Light CF was so hyped on YouTube and for good reason. It is still a favourite and I will probably repurchase it when I finish it, which is likely to be soon seeing as I’m using it every day!

The Superdrug Coconut Water and Coconut Oil Masque CF was a more recent recommendation from Beth and I love it. I actually talked about it in my most recent favourites post! It just works at making my hair happier and it smells SO GOOD.

Before setting sprays became the massive success they are today, the only ones people talked about were the UD All Nighter or the Urban Decay De Slick CF. I love the De Slick and whilst I think I’m ready to try some different setting sprays I think this is always one I want to own. It holds my makeup on my oily skin perfectly. I wouldn’t say it stops the oil coming through very well but it does mean I can blot without wrecking my whole face.

The NYX Prismatic Eyeshadow in Mermaid CF is one I’ve seen my two absolute favourites Jkissa and Fashionicide use. It is PERFECT. Almost as perfect as those beauties. It makes the perfect inner corner highlight or used anywhere as part of a dreamy mermaid look.

Finally the Boots Natural Collections Blush in Peach Melba that was supposed to be a dupe for MAC Melba. I did actually love this blush! In fact I loved it so much that this photo isn’t actually of Peach Melba because I finished mine. Seeing as Natural Collections are only a maybe-maybe-not cruelty free, I won’t be repurchasing it but if I could find a dupe I’d be so happy. A dupe for a dupe haha, what am I like?

Should I write another of these but for non-beauty products?

xo Fleur xo

Book Box Club Unboxing and Review – April

It’s time for another unboxing and review of the April Book Box Club, including a review of Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron.

The Book Box Club is a bookish subscription box where for £27.99 a month, including shipping to the UK, you receive a recently released book and a themed box of bookish goodies. For this months Book Box Club the theme was Fallen Angels which I was very excited about, especially after last months box was so good!

The first item in the box is the gorgeous looking Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron, which I’ll review below.

Next up is a Shadowhunter inspired Jace notebook from Nova Art Prints. As I’m sure I always say in an unboxing, you can never go wrong with a notepad and this one is unlined which is good for the artists or doodlers out there. I think this is a really innocent view of Jace too, so different from how I’ve ever imagined him but definitely how I can imagine him looking when he was younger!

There was also a Tunnocks Teacake, which was packaged in a little box to keep it safe but being super clumsy, of course I still managed to smush it. I love how often the Book Box Club include snacks – it’s great for reading with. Plus this snack totally linked to the book – so cute!

I’m so happy to have a candle for Karou and Akiva from Bookish Burns! I love the glitter and how blue it is, to match Karou’s hair. It also smells gorgeous and it’s nice to see an item themed around the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series as I haven’t before.

Next up is this gorgeous Angel Veil Whipped Body Butter from Shimmer Luxe. This smells gorgeous and feels so nourishing! It’s such a unique item to have in a bookish subscription box and it’ll be so great to moisturise away the final vestiges of winter.

This is such a cool Buffy sticker from Quotify and I can’t wait to stick it on a notebook or potentially onto one of my plain palettes for storing single eyeshadow pans.

The final main item was this incredible feather woodmark from Ingrained Inc. I absolutely adore the flower design and this is currently taking pride of place on my bookshelf. It might be almost too lovely to use!

Finally there was a poster, chapter sampler for Leah on the Offbeat as well as Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda, a bookmark, postcard, spoiler card and invitation to a chat about the book.

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron

Out of the Blue is a wonderful, mysterious and at times heartbreaking story where we see what happens in our world when angels start falling out of the sky, smashing into the Earth and dying.

The book follows Jaya, who’s father is obsessively trying to catch an angel, her mother has just died and her ex-girlfriend has disappeared.

It’s a short book, a quick, engaging read that I devoured in one sitting. There are so many emotions, so many difficult topics discussed and I think Sophie Cameron does a good job to convey all of that alongside a fast (but perfectly) paced story in under 300 pages. There was also a lot of humour in the writing which I loved, especially the comment about the Virgin Mary looking a little too white in a painting! Also, I’m never usually one for descriptions but some of the descriptive passages in this book were gorgeous.

I would have liked more character development but at the same time none of the characters felt like cardboard cut outs. They were fully fleshed enough and consistent in the way they acted. They felt like teenagers, messy enough but still awesome.

I really thought it was wonderful and I’d definitely recommend it!

Have you tried a bookish subscription box?

xo Fleur xo

My Favourite Blog Props

I’ve seen a few people talk about their favourite blog props and I think they’re such interesting posts! I think it’s fun seeing different people’s style and how they choose to express themselves.

First up has to be candles doesn’t it, these have been a regular feature in my blog photos for a while now and I think they look so lovely. I really like the IKEA candles because they smell gorgeous and the jars are quite simple.

Cacti and succulents are another popular prop and I can see why. They add some dimension and well, I think a lot of us just love them in general – so why wouldn’t they make it into our collection of props.

Nail Varnish bottles also look super cute, or at least I think so. They add pops of colour and interest.

I recently bought The Body Shop perfume and the bottle is completely stunning! I love the way it lets light through tinting it a peachy-pink.

Flowers are a firm favourite already and I can’t believe I’ve only started using them this year! I love these fake flowers from IKEA, even though they’re clearly fake they add that feeling of nature and I love having that as part of my Instagram feed and on my blog.

I’ve also enjoyed taking photos with contrasting light in them this year. Obviously that relies on sunshine but with summer coming up I’m excited to experiment a little more.

Sweets always look good in photos, right? I think Candy Kittens and Mini Eggs are the cutest but I think old fashioned boiled sweets could be stunning! I’ve also found some pots of loose tea can look adorable in photos!

Body Butter pots are often so pretty, so why shouldn’t they get to join in the fun? This one is from Superdrug and I’m completely obsessed with the packaging.

I also think Lipsticks can look great and add a different object to look at! Especially ones with metallic packaging like this one does. They can also help to add colour too.

Finally something that ends up in so many of my blog photos is eyeshadow palettes or individual pans. I find I can really match the mood or theme of my photo with the different eyeshadow palettes I have. I also love including them in my bookish photos, to add a little more of the person I am to them. To make them a little more unique to me!

I think the most important thing for me is to continually experiment! I’ve tried using Funko pops, scarves, coats, handbags, packaging boxes, colouring pens… They’ve all been fun but these items are the ones I keep going back to because I love them so much!

What blog props do you love?

xo Fleur xo