Best Books of 2015

Hi everyone.

I can’t believe 2015 is over! I was supposed to post this in 2015 but i was super busy and then super tired and lazy.

BUT I AM SO HAPPY THAT I COMPLETED MY GOODREADS GOAL FOR ONCE!!! I managed to read more than 50 books in 2015 yay me.

So here is my list of the BEST books I have read in 2015…

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014 in the US and 2015 in the UK)

UK vs US cover

Why I Love It:

THIS BOOK OMG THIS BOOK IS SO BEAUTIFUL. I’ve read her previous book ‘The Sky is Everywhere’ and honestly that book is nothing compared to I’ll Give You The Sun. 

It is narrated by twins Noah and Jude so switches from view points. There’s a lot of art and pain in this book but the writing is superb and the characters are excellently written and the plot…omg the plot and the plot twists!!!

Noah’s descriptions are breathtaking and his curiosity and wonderment are just so adorable.

Jude is incredible, her fearlessness and her strength is admirable but stuff happens and it is just so heartbreaking.

There’s death,  love, hope and forgiveness and plenty of pain and suffering.

But overall this book is incredibly beautiful. I love the characters and the plot and the way they talk about certain things and it’s also really cute at times and i am a sucker for love stories. it’s about family relationships too and how messed up they can be when people keep secrets.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (2014)

US vs UK Cover

Why I Love It:

Oh this book!!! This is A BOOK WITHIN A BOOK. Okay so it’s about this girl Darcy Patel (A BROWN PROTAGONIST I KNOW!!!!) and she is a writer so we get to read her story too!!!

this book is great because it’s about writing and the publishing industry and also has representation and ‘diversity’ so that’s important too.

One chapter is about Darcy and the next is a chapter from her book so that’s really cool and i’m so glad i got to read two books in one! and both really good stories too!

you don’t get confused because the story Darcy writes is very different…it’s like a ghost story and has a hot brown guy who may or may not be Lord of the Dead…but the characters are well written and the plot is great so kudos to you Scott Westerfeld.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold (2015)

Why I Love It:

This book is everything i love in a YA book. A ROAD TRIP. i love road trip books and i really hope i get to go on many road trips in the future!

it took a while to get into and get used to the ‘quirky’ writing and weirdness of the novel and Mim but eventually i got used to it and fell in love with this book and her story.

So Mim is on a quest to find her mum but really…she ends up finding herself. i know that sounds cliche but honestly it’s really beautifully written and the friends she makes along the way are just so lovable.

Her friends Walt and Beck are my fave and i am so glad she realises how stupid she was so that’s good and also it has some great plot twists. I love how unpredictable it was.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015)

Everything, Everything Book

Why I Love It:

urgh reading this book was like a taylor swift song because i was dying from all the cute but then i was like ‘urgh this will never happen to me smh’.

So it’s about this girl Maddy who is ‘allergic’ to the world…as in she can’t go outside or she might/will die. so she stays inside and lives her life through books and the internet. i mean she’s wealthy enough to have a nice house so that’s fine but then there’s this NEW FAMILY NEXT DOOR WITH A CUTE GUY (how cliche but i am a sucker for this kind of thing) and then they end up talking online and fall in love etc etc

i also really liked the illustrations in the book but yeah it’s about Maddy and her life in that house until Olly comes and messes everything up (in a good way) but yeah i felt they rushed into some things *ahem* and i didn’t really like the plot twist but i LOVE the beginning because of how they meet and when they talk at night and that whole thing of falling in love and BEING ALL CUTE!!!

ALSO IT IS WRITTEN BY A BLACK WOMAN AND THE CHARACTER IS MIXED RACE SO YAY for that.

i felt really sorry for the mum and things should have been dealt with differently since she has suffered so much too.

but overall it’s a really cute book and the cover is also really pretty!

Stand-Off by Andrew Smith (2015)

i loathe this cover

Why I Love It:

the sequel to Winger. i didn’t expect to love these books as much as i do but honestly these books are HILARIOUS. it’s hard to find good FUNNY books these days but Andrew Smith somehow manages to do it.

This book is excellent in so many ways. Ryan Dean West is a senior now and has to deal with so much pressure but also after what happened in Winger (the thing with Joey) his anxiety is really bad and he has panic attacks and nightmares it’s really heartbreaking. i actually cried a lot reading this book because of how he wasn’t dealing well with his emotions and he was really confused and i’m like PLEASE GET HELP HKJHGJDFHGKDFJ

but thankfully he eventually gets help and things get dealt with which is good. also SAM ABERNATHY IS ADORABLE and has to stay with Ryan Dean and he is not amused it is sooo cute.

also his relationship with Annie is great and it’s really funny but also gross because guys are weird and think about strange things.

but i love this book and the characters are great and it made me really emotional reading it because i will miss the dork that is Ryan Dean West and his amazingly funny drawings (he draws comics!).

The Collected Works of A.J.Finkry (2014)/The Stories Life of A.H.Finkry (2015) by Gabrielle Zevin 

UK vs US Cover

Why I Love It:

This book is just so so so good. it’s about BOOKS and BOOK PEOPLE! It’s my kind of book.

It’s about this guy who owns this little bookshop on this island and about his pathetic life UNTIL SOMEONE LEAVES A CHILD IN HIS BOOKSTORE AND HE ENDS UP LOOKING AFTER IT AND HE ALSO FALLS IN LOVE WITH THIS WONDERFUL WOMAN WHO MAKES HIM SEE THE WORLD IN A DIFFERENT WAY and it is just so beautiful.

so A.J.Finkry compiles a list of books his daughter should read (there are a lot fo books i haven’t heard about but that’s fine because my to read list is never-ending!).

the characters are well written and i love the plot and there are some excellent quotes too but just a book about people who love books so as a bibliophile it is perfect.

Winter by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles) 2015 

Why I Love It:

THE LAST BOOK IN THE LUNAR CHRONICLES  OMG!!!

THIS BOOK IS REALLY REALLY FAT LIKE OVER 800 PAGES LONG but i got through it (just about). it was an emotional roller-coaster because every time i’d be like YES FINALLY something else would go wrong and i’d just be like WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? WHEN WILL MY FAVES BE SAFE AND HAPPY?!

so we’re introduced to Princess Winter aka like Snow White but she is black (this book has lots of diversity which is good). Winter suffers from hallucinations and visions so she’s dealing with a kind of mental illness and it is taking a toll on her. but she is a sweet character.

Also…Levana is just urgh like i hate her so much but then also you’re made to feel sorry for her and pity her but no matter what there is no excuse for your crappy behaviour and rudeness and also THE FACT THAT SHE GLAMOURS HERSELF AND MAKES ‘HER PEOPLE’ WORK AS SLAVES SMH (i still need to read Fairest and also there is a collection of short stories coming out soon called Stars Above). 

overall i thoroughly enjoyed reading this book even though it pained me to read some scenes and it hurt a lot coz i love the characters and i just want them to be happy but thankfully things work out and yeah I AM SO PROUD OF CINDER LFJGKJHGKJSDHSFKJ and kai is just too cute. also Iko is such a bamf.

it’s a good series and fairytale retelling!!!

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (Lumatere Chronicles) 2008

Why I Love It:

oh wow. this book. it’s taken me a long time to finally read the wonder that is Melina Marchetta. i wanted to read a book i could get stuck in and fantasy usually sucks me right in. this book. how do i even begin to describe the beauty that is this book?!

this book killed me.

this book is great because of the CHARACTERS!!! the plot is also good and the dialogue but i love the characters!!! Finnikin and Sir Topher and Evangelin and just basically everyone.

it’s about a cursed kingdom and so many have to flee and become exiles and no other kingdom wants them and it’s horrible and it’s about whether they can return home and what happens then.

also this book was also sooo realistic in the sense that the issues she deals with and the whole exile thing is very relevant to what’s happening today (ie Syria, Palestine etc)

if you like fantasy then you should enjoy this book. ALSO IT HAS SO MUCH DIVERSITY AND THE FEMALE CHARACTERS ARE BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN AND IT’S ALSO FUNNY AT TIMES BUT IT IS ALSO REALLY PAINFUL. i can’t wait to read the second book!!!

AND OBVIOUSLY  The Princess Diaries: Royal Wedding  WAS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED AND SO MUCH MORE!

I hope everyone had a good 2015 and if not then hope 2016 is better with more wonderful memories and that you get to read lots of amazing books and travel to new places!

Thanks for reading my blog.

Hopefully I will be blogging more often.

 

Happy Reading!

“When I only begin to read, I forget I’m on this world. It lifts me on wings with high thoughts.” Anzia Yezierska

 

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.” Ursula K. Le Guin

 PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D

Why You Should Read The Throne of Glass Series

Hey there fellow bibliophiles!

Okay, so i HATE finishing a series or trilogy and having to say goodbye to some of my fave characters. But sadly that is part of the joy of reading…finally ending a series and hoping they get a good ending. So a few years ago I finished the Graceling Trilogy (Kriston Cashore) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy (Laini Taylor) and so I needed something to fill the gap of badass female heroine.

Along comes Celaena Sardothien.

Last year, I heard about Throne of Glass but wasn’t too sure about it so I asked some friends who have read it if it is worth it. They said yes.

She recommended that I read the prequel first so I did. THEN I NEEDED THE FIRST BOOK ASAP.

So…what is it about?

The series is about a girl called Celaena Sardothien who is an ASSASSIN and she literally slays. So yeah it’s about her life and the people she meets and the THINGS THAT HAPPEN…magical things…yeah it’s one of those books where she finds out about her past and uncovers the truth etc BUT IT IS REALLY GOOD.

Reasons to love Celaena Sardothien:

  • she loves books
  • she’s a BAMF because she slays
  • she loves pretty things…clothes..jewellery…anything sparkly and expensive
  • she loves shopping
  • she loves chocolate
  • she is not afraid to ask for what she wants
  • she is so cool you wish you were as cool as her
  • she loves puppies
  • she cares about her friends
  • she’s confident
  • she’s a STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO DON’T NEED NO MAN
  • she’s really pretty and owns it…
  • she is flawed but learns from her mistakes…and sometimes she doesn’t
  • she’s been through so much and yet she can still smile and open her heart to new people
  • SHE IS CELAENA SARDOTHIEN AND SHE WILL NOT BE AFRAID

I can totes see Celaena rocking some Elie Saab dress while eating a box of chocolates.

This is also definitely something she would love!

SHE is the reason I fell in love with this series. But sadly…a lot has changed as the books have progressed and since reading the latest book Queen of Shadows…I don’t feel the same way about the character. and that breaks my heart because I honestly thought she would be in my list of fave female characters.

List of fave characters:

  • Celaena
  • Sam
  • Chaol
  • Prince Dorian
  • Nehemia
  • Fleetfoot
  • Lysandra (wait till Queen of Shadows)

Notable mentions: Nesryn and Manon (in Queen of Shadows)

Aedion is okay and Rowan was awesome in Heir of Fire but I did not care for him in Queen of Shadows.

The Books:

The Prequel: The Assassin’s Blade

This is the collection of 5 novellas.

I suggest you read it first as it gives you a background to the character Celeana and how she ended up where she is in Throne of Glass. Also…read it for Sam.

My fave story is the The Assassin and The Desert because she gets to meet some interesting people and learn cool skills.

and the ending of the book will kill you so you have been warned.

Throne of Glass

Technically the first book in the series. This is where Celaena leaves Endovier (slave camp) to fight to become the King’s Champion…even though she hates the king. she meets Prince Dorian who is an adorable puppy (not really he is just so lovely because he gives her books and chocolate) and Captain Chaol (who I love for many reasons).

Princess Nehemia is amazing. not only is she a beautiful black princess but she is just such a cool character and I love her.

It’s a good fantasy novel because Celaena is training to fight and get back on her own two feet and also learning to trust more people and finding out about magic and stuff. It will break your heart though.

Crown of Midnight

This is my fave book in the series because Chaoleana

but also the friendships are more developed and I just love it so much. It’s also one of the most painful books because PEOPLE DIE ESPECIALLY ONE OF MY FAVE CHARACTERS.

This is one of those books that lure you with their gripping plot and excellent writing and characterisation only to leave you screaming and crying and clutching your broken heart in pain.

Oh and there are plenty of plot twists and more questions that need answering.

Heir of Fire

This follows Celaena as she finds out more about her past and the truth about who she is. It’s also sad because my fave characters aren’t together…like it was awesome when it was Chaol, Dorian, Celaena and Nehemia having a great time but THAT CAN’T HAPPEN AGAIN.

You meet new characters like Rowan who is really important and plays a huge role in helping Celaena be the person she becomes.

Manon is also introduced as a witch but I wasn’t particularly interested in her narrative in this book.

THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK IS JUST PURE EVIL.

Queen of Shadows

This was honestly one of the most highly anticipated books of 2015 for me. and I am actually quite disappointed.

The characters have changed DRASTICALLY.

Celaena isn’t Celaena anymore and although I liked the new her in Heir of Fire…in this book it is such a huge shift and it just doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel the same love I felt for her character in the first few books. and I hate that. because the whole reason I love this series is because of the character Celaena. and Sarah J Maas took that away from us.

Chaol is portrayed as a douchebag in this book and that is not okay. Thankfully he redeems himself by the end but still I am so annoyed with her portrayal of him because he is my fave.

It is horrendous what happens to Dorian and I’m not so sure if it will end well…

I love Manon in this book and I am excited to see what happens with her character and the Blackbeak Clan.

Nesryn is a really cool POC character and she has great archery skills and her dad is a baker so Katniss and Peeta could be her parents LOL.

Rowan and Aedion were being too macho overprotective males in this book.

Lysandra is amazing and I love her in this book. Also she has the coolest power ever *spoiler alert* (She’s a shapeshifter!)

This book is also told from multiple narratives…lots of things happen and there’s a few plot twists but most importantly TWO MAJOR CHARACTERS DIE but it feels too good to be true.

Overall I was shocked at how Sarah J Maas changed the characters do dramatically from the previous books and I don’t know how I feel about the rest of the series. not very optimistic but I will probably read the next book. I mean the endings was pretty good but for 90% of the novel I was annoyed and shocked.

You should still read this series because Celaena is worth knowing despite the pain and change in character. She’s a character that can kick ass and also loves wearing pretty dresses and loves reading and I think that’s hard to find in YA because usually it’s one or the other…you can’t look pretty AND be a good fighter AND love books AND have crushes on cute guys…

ALSO IT IS GOING TO BE A TV SHOW!!!

Sarah J Maas has also written another faerie series called  A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR). It’s definitely a book for people who love topless guys and romance.

Also, Sarah J Maas can write. Her world building is great but also her characters especially female characters and obviously hot guys and her descriptions…her stories are gripping and well written.

I was lucky enough to meet Sarah J Mass at Waterstones Picadilly in May.

Unfortunately, we didn’t realise we had to queue outside so we didn’t get seats in the front…we were in the 5th row which was pretty bad as the queue for the book signing was insanely long! But we had good enough seats that we could see her and hear her fine.

Sarah J Maas is SO SO SO PRETTY…she reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence.

Sarah J Maas

  • She is also hilarious
  • Her dog Annie is her life
  • She loves unicorns and magic
  • When she was younger she was torn between being a girly girl and being a tomboy and she thought that you had to choose between the two (ie you couldn’t be a girl and like dorky stuff like Star Wars)
  • She stopped reading for a while and her teacher told her parents to take her to a bookstore and just let her wander and choose whatever she wants
  • First fantasy books she read were by Garth Nix and Tamora Pierce because they portrayed badass female characters
  • Celaena is her baby and best friend and she loves her and she knows exactly where the series will end (!!!)
  • She said Throne of Glass won’t end with Celaena/Aelin choosing who she ends up with (which is a good thing)
  • FLEETFOOT SURVIVES
  • But a lot of characters will die she kept on teasing us saying ‘IF they survive..’
  • ACOTAR 2 will have more hot shirtless men and 100% more sexy times
  • When her grandma read ACOTAR she sent an email to her and the family saying ‘what an imagination!’
  • She wrote ACOTAR after college.
  • She’s a workaholic
  • She loves Cheetos and she eats a lot of cheese when she is stuck with a book
  • Her best friend is Susan Dennard who has a book out next year called Truthwitch.
  • If Celaena and Feyre met they would probably be like 2 cats meeting…either fighting or sniffing each others butts or staring at each other. But she said they’d probably become allies not BFFs and would scare men away.
  • She loves reading paranormal romance books
  • None of the characters are based on people she knows but many of the characters who die have names of people who bullied her friends
  • She has her own copy of Throne of Glass which she asks the fans to sign (it is so cute and has so many messages)
  • Someone asked who her OTP is but she obviously didn’t say (it’s Rowaelin)
  • She writes the kinds of books she wants to read and I think that is so important
  • She doesn’t know when the TOG series will end so there will be lots of books to come I am sure!

She is so friendly and super funny and just really cute and she had this stunning sparkly jaguar ring and she was signing nonstop and was so excited that her London event was sold out even her parents were impressed (apparently they aren’t impressed with much).

It took us over an hour to actually get to meet her and have our books signed…and we were really hungry and tired by then! The shop closes at 9pm but they said they’d close at 10pm but there were still loads of people after us and so there were probably quite a few people who didn’t get their books signed. That sucks because we paid for the event and to get our books signed. But Alhamdulilah I managed to get mine signed! She also was nice enough to sign my book bag!!!

signed throne of glass book

I’m glad I got to meet her BEFORE Queen of Shadows because i probably wouldn’t have been as happy to see her…

Check out her website and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

Happy Reading!

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.” Sarah J. Maas
“Don’t you do anything other than read?” Sarah J. Mass

PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D

 

15 Baking Tips for Beginners

Hi guys!

I’m not an expert in baking or anything but I have been baking for about 5 years now so I can give you guys some tips. I got into baking mainly through baking for charity (I  made my mum bake so I could decorate) but eventually I gave it a try and found that I enjoyed it. Also, one of my favourite fictional characters is a baker (PEETA MELLARK). And Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss also like to bake. My dream would be to bake with Taylor Swift (#Goals). 

Anyways, so here are some VERY IMPORTANT BAKING TIPS:

1- MEASURE- measure everything. baking is a science. well kind of. if you have the right equipment then you should be fine. Measuring Cups and Scales (get a digital one) are a must.

2- OVEN- preheat the oven before baking so it is ready for your baked goods – and always double-check the recipe to see what temperature it should be. also check the conversions (Fahrenheit to Celsius) as i tend to use a lot of American recipes.

3- CHECK THE RECIPE- keep the recipe near you and double-check at all times. it’s good to have all the ingredients in front of you, then the measuring cups you need. keep going back to the recipe as you bake and tick off the ingredients you’ve used.  Also if you are using an American recipe and you DON’T live in the US, make sure you know the equivalents for ingredients(it’s really important you get the recipe right and the correct ingredients especially for flour and sugar).

4- BUTTER- if your recipe requires butter, leave it out the night before you bake so it’s soft and easier to mix. Depending on how hot it is, you can take it out on the day and leave it for an hour or so. a good trick is to put a warm glass over the butter to soften it.  Most recipes require unsalted butter but make sure you check the recipe if they ask for salted butter (then you don’t add salt). usually ingredients should be at room temperature unless otherwise stated.

5-EQUIPMENT- invest in certain baking equipment: for perfect cupcakes you need a mechanical ice cream scoop (it’s also good for cookies), a good hand mixer, measuring cups, scales, cake tester, baking pans/trays, a palette knife, piping bags with tips, parchment paper or a silicone mat, a wire rack to cool your baked goods and lots of spatulas and mixing spoons and last but not least lots of BOWLS!!! You don’t need a stand mixer if you’re just starting out but the best one is the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer (in pink) which is my dream (#KitchenGoals). I currently have my trust Kenwood which is serving me well so I can’t complain.

6- SIFT always sift the flour, cocoa powder and icing sugar!

7- VANILLA- the best is Madagascan Vanilla Extract. DO NOT USE THE NORMAL SUPERMARKET ONE. vanilla extract is expensive BUT IT SMELLS SO GOOD and enhances the taste of anything you bake. you can also use Vanilla Bean Pods (and you can make Vanilla Sugar too).

8- EGGS- i always crack the egg into a separate bowl BEFORE adding it to the mixture in case of any egg shells. Also make sure to get good quality free range eggs.

9- ICING- chocolate drizzle is always great (just melt some chocolate), a quick dusting of icing sugar does the trick too if you’re short for time. Ganache and vanilla glaze are easy and can be made quickly too providing you have the ingredients. Buttercream is perfect for cakes and cupcakes (and can be flavoured) and also cream cheese frosting is also great. I’m not an expert in fondant but most people use it to cover cakes or make shapes for decoration (you can make your own or buy it from a supermarket/baking shop).

10- TIMING IS KEY- always use a timer. invest in a cooking timer…or you can use your phone alarm or timer but make sure you can hear it! you don’t want to over bake anything as it can get dry or hard. under baking cookies is okay because they harden once cooled and to get soft chewy cookies under baking is good depending on the recipe.

11-INGREDIENTS- when baking, try to use quality products. it’s tempting to go for the cheapest chocolate but it could ruin the bake. Go for products you trust but also trial and error so see what suits you best as long as it is affordable. but quality is key because you want it to taste great too! I tend to use Dairy Milk Chocolate for most of my baking but sometimes if Lindt or Green & Blacks is on offer then I’ll use those. Also you can get chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips or if you prefer to just chop/grate chocolate that’s fine.

12- FLAVOURS- it’s amazing how many flavours you can make things in…vanilla, lemon, almond, coffee, coconut etc…but it doesn’t end there. my fave ingredients are: cinnamon, peanut butter, chocolate, Oreos and coconut so I usually try to find recipes which include them. Obviously, when you’re starting out try simple recipes but flavours that YOU like…and once you’re confident you can experiment more.

13-CREAM- make sure you get cream that says it can be whipped if you need to whip the cream (not the one that you spray from a can!)

14- BANANAS- if you need to ripen the bananas just put them in the oven on a low temp about 160 degrees Celsius for about half an hour and they should be black. it looks really weird but they’ll be soft and sweet and ready for baking!

15- HAVE FUN- last but not least, have fun. baking is meant to be fun so MAKE it fun! don’t go messing about with the flour because cleaning up can be annoying but definitely eat the batter when you’re done. also once you’ve baked something more than 5 times you can call yourself an expert AND change up the recipe. like anything, the more you practice, the more confident you’ll get.

Hey, I am no expert in baking. I am still an amateur. I aint ready for no bake off and I’m not keen on people watching me bake (depends who it is…) HOWEVER I don’t mind teaching people how to bake…it’s quite fun being the one to know things yet I am always learning new ways to bake and improve my skills. I like perfecting old recipes but I love trying to bake new things. I need to make more pies and breads because I usually stick to cookies and brownies. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to decorating especially with piping!

Also, YouTube is a great place to start as there are plenty of baking tutorials to help you out! but as long as the recipe has pictures, you should be fine. Joy of Baking and Baking Mad do great tutorials.

Where to get things:

Poundland have a great Jane Asher range including a MECHANICAL ICE CREAM SCOOP and parchment paper. Wilkinsons also have a nice baking range for basic things such a strays and piping sets and TkMaxx also have nice baking stuff for a reasonable price. the best store is Lakeland but it’s not in every high street nor is it cheap but most big supermarkets will have a small/medium baking section to start you of.

chilling cookie dough is a real struggle but it’s worth it!

OIL BROWNIES CAN MAKE THE FUDGIEST BROWNIES!

check out the recipes and more in Handle the Heat’s Ultimate Guides

Check out these AMAZING baking blogs:

  1. Janes Patisserie
  2. Sally’s Baking Addiction
  3. I am baker
  4. Brown Eyed Baker
  5. Picky Palate
  6. Passion For Baking (she has serious #KitchenGoals)

If you’re more of a healthy eater then these blogs are great:

And as always, a lot of my recipes from The Hummingbird Bakery Recipe Books!

The Humming Bird Bakery Recipe Books

oh and for my 21st birthday my friend got me this amazingly perfect apron

apron

hope this post inspires you reluctant bakers to get baking!

Happy Baking and May The Baking Be Always In Your Flavour!

PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Greetings fellow ailurophiles!

Ailurophile- Lover of Cats

I am a self-confessed Crazy Cat Lady AND PROUD!!!

So obviously when i heard that London was going to have its very own CAT CAFE i knew i had to go!

It’s called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium and is based in East London.

You HAVE to book in advance because places are limited and they are usually fully booked for months so you should check their twitter for any free spaces or their website. Also, there are different times so mornings are good as the cats are usually playful but it really depends on their mood!!!

My friend from the US came to visit me in April and i thought I’d surprise her and take her to the Cat Cafe and SHE WAS SURPRISED which was awesome.

We both had a really good experience. I obviously wore my cat lady attire (my red cat dress)

We entered this glorious place

Cat Cafe

We had to wash our hands (obviously) and then we were taken downstairs to a table. We ordered some snacks which were delicious and then we explored the place and tried to find some cats to play with!

Cat Cafe

I love how they put a cat on my hot chocolate!

The decor was basically full of cat related things like this:

Wookie being adorable. he was so fat!

Artemis was keeping an eye on the pigeons outside

Artemis

Romeo took a fancy to me…

Carbonelle is one of the prettiest and sassiest cats i’ve had the pleasure to meet.

You can find out more about the cats at the cafe here

All in all, it was a lovely experience as we were surrounded by cats and cat people. The service was good and I did actually go again with another friend and she enjoyed the experience too. It’s great if you can’t have a cat or really like cats.

My friend really wanted to go to the cat cafe but it was fully booked when she was in London but she said my house is like the cat cafe because of my baking and the floofs (more on them soon).

Don’t forget to like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter and Instagram

Hope you get to visit them soon! There are plenty of other cat cafes around the world too. My goal is definitely to visit the Cat Island in Japan!!!

Happy Reading and Cat Petting!

XOXO

Check out more amazing comics on her website

Also this awesome comic on why it’s hard to get things done when your cat is being adorable

Also i LOVE Felines of New York a take on Humans of New York.

what the cat cafe looks like

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” Robert A. Heinlein

PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D

 

Books Are My Bag 2015

Hello fellow bibliophiles! 

I’m so excited for this years Books Are My Bag because LAUREN CHILD HAS DESIGN A CHARLIE AND LOLA BOOK BAG!!!

IT IS SO ADORABLE I NEED IT.

 What is books are my bag (BAMB)?

It is a nationwide campaign to support bookshops as our high street bookshops are in danger (thanks to the cheapness of online books). It celebrates the act of buying a book in a bookstore where you can interact with other readers and ask questions about upcoming books as well as attend events…the beauty of a bookstore is not just that they have books but it has people who want to help you find the right book and they hold author events!

This year i have been trying my best to buy from bookstores instead of from amazon. If i do buy from amazon I use amazon marketplace so I get books from The Book Depository or Wordery)

on the BAMB website is a list of reasons to buy books from a bookshop:

  • You love books
  • You may be about to make a purchase you’ll value for the rest of your life
  • You’ll be shopping on your local high street
  • You’ll be helping create local jobs
  • You might just find a book you never knew existed 
  • You’ll find great gifts for friends and family
  • You can talk to real people about books they know and love
  • You’ll be part of your local book-loving community 

When is it?

8-10th October 2015 all over the UK. It happens every year so if you can’t make it this year then try to make a plan of it for next year. But, your bookstore might still be selling the bags throughout the year! 

Where is it?

you can check your local bookstore if they have any events for the day but usually you just go into a bookstore and they should have the bag…i think you get a free BAMB bag when you buy a book. the designer ones you have to pay for.

Why it is great?

  • because it celebrates books.
  • it’s a fun filled few days full of books and bags!
  • whenever  i see someone with a BAMB bag i know they are a fellow booklover.

Books I might get on the day:

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (her new book!)

The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester (aka Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil from YouTube)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Stand-Off  by Andrew Smith (the sequel to Winger)

Not on Fire, but Burning Greg Hrbek

AH…so many books to choose from. I might treat myself and get two!

Anyways, hope you guys go to a bookstore whether it’s Waterstones (they do Buy One Get One Half Price) or Foyles or an independent bookshop…celebrate the written word!

Follow BAMB on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram

Happy Book Buying and Reading!

“Aren’t bookshops wonderful? The staff are always welcoming, friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about their stock – and they are great places to browse, to explore, to stumble across new literary treasures. Long live bookshops.” Malorie Blackman
“I love walking into a bookstore. It’s like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.” – Tahereh Mafi
“Bookstores always remind me that there are good things in this world.” – Vincent van Gogh

 PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D

 

 

Beanstalk

Hello there.

So, as you know I love reading and i love to share my love for books.

I’ve always been interested in helping kids to read…My younger family members live in South Africa so i never had a chance to help them with their reading. But in primary school i loved assisted reading because it was fun to read picture books with the little kids. Then in secondary school  i found out about charities that help kids with their reading and i really wanted to volunteer but you had to be 18 years old or over.

Eventually in my 2nd year of university we got an email asking if anyone wanted to volunteer with Save The Children’s Read On Get On campaign. Their aim is to help more primary school kids with their reading since many from poor backgrounds tend to leave primary school without being able to read properly. This can lead to a poorer performance in secondary school and low self esteem (especially if other classmates are way ahead of them). So it’s really important that YOU ARE READING but also that YOU MAKE AN EFFORT WITH ANY KIDS YOU INTERACT WITH TO SHOW THAT READING CAN BE FUN.

Anyways, so once i contacted Save The Children, they put me through to Beanstalk and after filling out their application form, i eventually had an Interview with Beanstalk charity and I had to go through training courses (for safeguarding) and to help us gain skills to help us support different kids with whatever reading difficult they had.

Finally, in October 2014 i was placed in a local primary school. i had three year 4 kids, 2 girls and 1 boy and the reading sessions are 30 mins with each child.

Each Session:

  • Since i only had half an hour with each child, we spent 15mins on reading and the other 15 mins on playing games (to help with their confidence or just a bit of fun)
  • sometimes we’d spend more time reading the book if they really liked it, especially the boy as he read Non-Fiction books about dinosaurs, transport, animals and various other topics he was interested in
  • Games we played: Snap, Guess the Drawing, Story Cubes, (these are amazing for creating awesome stories!) Brainbox, Noughts and Crosses, Hangman and many more other games.
  • the children read to me while i listened and corrected them if they made any mistakes then we’d discuss what happened in the book or what they think is going to happen next

What I learnt:

    • i am terrible at drawing and they are really good
    • i wish i was a kid again
    • the imagination of a child is definitely one to be envious about
    • creativity is so important and nurturing a love for reading is vital for a child’s development
    • comprehension is really important
    • it’s good to spend time with kids because you learn a lot from them

we need to spend more time playing games and having fun because that’s also important for developmenti spent a year with these kids and i wish them all the best and i really hope they enjoy reading more to nurture their imaginations

Also, volunteering is helping people and this is such a fun way to help kids nurture a love for reading and also provide them with the skills they need for the future!

The thing is, parents are busy and older siblings have to worry about their own schoolwork and stuff and watching TV tends to be a family affair or something to distract the kids with…or just mindless relaxation. But the benefits of reading are lifelong and we need to do more to promote reading with children especially bed time stories…not only is it a great time to spend with your child/sibling/cousin but also it is incredibly vital for their development. Reading aloud to kids is a whole different experience especially if they hear different voices and act out certain parts. plus it makes them look forward to bed time. i remember i loved being read to before bed…it was usually Enid Blyton. and once i started reading myself i was always stuck in a book, sometimes even past my bedtime!

  • Q: What do you think is the best way to get children engaged with language and reading generally?
  • Daniel Handler: When I was young, my parents would read me a book and stop at a suspenseful moment, tuck me into bed with the book and a nearby flashlight, and tell me that under no circumstances could I stay up any later to read. The next day they would ignore the fact that the bookmark had moved. (Source: Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket Webchat Transcript)

I loved my time with Beanstalk, but sadly i had to leave because i’m now a graduate seeking employment…and for Beanstalk you have to commit 3hrs per week of your time. So if you know anyone who is working part time or is retired or if you think this seems like your kind of thing…helping the future generation then you should defo apply to be a reading volunteer! 

Don’t forget to check out Beanstalk on Facebook and Twitter

Happy Reading!

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”- J.K. Rowling
 “The joy of a bedtime story is the key to developing a love of reading in children” Frank Cottrell Boyce

PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D

Princess Diaries: Royal Wedding

Hi there.

I’m not sure if i’ve said this before but The Princess Diaries is one of my favourite book series and Mia Thermopolis (aka Her Royal Highness Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo) is truly an inspiration.

so when i found out that MEG CABOT would be writing another book about ADULT MIA i totally freaked out.

Sadly…i had to wait till July to read it because it only came out earlier this month in the UK. and then my friend and i went to Waterstones to get it BUT THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE IT. we were heartbroken. i had to order it online then.

eventually it arrived in all its glory

Royal Wedding

 AND THEN I JUST READ IT. i was supposed to savour it but i just NEEDED to read it and be immersed in the world of Princess Mia.

i was actually kind of scared to read it because i had such high expectations but i was not disappointed and it was the perfect book. it was just what i needed- full of madness and laughter and adorable moments and just the perfect escape and the perfect read. it’s everything i wanted and so much more!

Mia is as mad and neurotic as ever…

Michael is as adorable and dorky as ever with his emojis! haha

MIA AND MICHAEL #RelationshipGoals

i was like

why are they so frickin cute?!

the Proposal scene was just dghakdfjghakdfjhg

HONESTLY JUST TAKE ME TO THE BAHAMAS TO SOME SECRET ISLAND THANKS

Grandmere and her side eye and sass and insanity and her poodles were just brilliant

LARS AND THE ORANGE OMG…my fave was actually when he said to some woman that ‘no one wants you there’ (in Genovia)

seriously this book is one of those beautiful rare laugh out loud books

Mia and her friends were seriously #SquadGoals

i love all their text messaging and how they are still as crazy and supportive as ever.

OMG MIA’S BROTHER ROCKY IS SUCH A CRAZY KID WITH HIS OBSESSION WITH FARTING AND DINOSAURS. IT’S HILARIOUS.

and omg Mia’s dad…was like…just…so funny but you also felt sorry for him but HE STOOD UP TO GRANDMERE FINALLY AND TOOK CONTROL OF HIS LIFE FINALLY.

also yeah there are some MAJOR PLOT TWISTS

one of them i already knew about since she has her own book (*cough* Mia has a half sister Olivia Grace). so i do want to read From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess.

but the OTHER plot twist…well idk there were plenty of hints but it was just too good to be true or like…too obvious?! but it was SO FUNNY!

like this whole book was just me FEELING ALL THE FEELS

AND SERIOUSLY…THE END…OMG THE WEDDING…I DIED. IT WAS PERFECT. HER DRESS AND MICHAEL AND JUST IDUFGADFJKFJGH EVERYTHING WAS JUST SO PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL AND OMG IT WAS JUST RJGDJDFHGKDFJHGKJFDGKF MY BABIES…MY FAVES…SO HAPPY AND CUTE AND JUST KHGDKAJDFHKGJ URGH I AM SUCH A HOPELESS ROMANTIC BUT SERIOUSLY.

TOTES ADORBS.

so all in all…if you haven’t read The Princess Diaries Series then please do…it’s about a girl who finds out she’s a princess and has to deal with bodyguards and her insane grandmother and her even madder friends and also falling in love and etiquette and trying to be a proper princess while being a high schooler in america etc and just it’s just wonderful. i just have a lot of feelings about this series and these characters. i mean…the films are brilliant and i love them but the books are completely different.

so thank you Meg Cabot

for writing such amazing characters and books. can’t wait for the NEW MEDIATOR BOOK NEXT YEAR!!!

Happy Reading!

XOXO

“We want endings that leave us with a sense of hope, possibly because the world we’re living in seems to be falling apart right now.” Meg Cabot (Royal Wedding)

 

PEACE. LOVE. BOOKS. =D