Monday, 31 March 2014

Au revoir, March

Birthday celebrations, memorials, spring flowers, rain, the hottest day of the year so far and 
plenty of long walks with loved ones; you were a pretty good month, March...

Happy Monday, blogland :)
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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Today

I would like to publicly wish my wonderful mum 
a very happy Mother's Day.
approx. 1985
On my wedding day in 2010
She is a strong, independent, beautiful woman who has inspired me in so many ways
and if I become half the mum she is then I'll consider it a job well done!

I also lucked out when it came to a mother-in-law too :)
My MIL has been a wonderful mum to Hubby and she's turning into a fantastic mother-in-law to me too.
I was never really worried; when we got engaged, we were all chatting (I don't remember the specifics) in 
MIL's kitchen and she said that once we're married Hubby should never put his mother before his wife. 
How sweet of her to say that, although I'd like to think I'd never ask Hubs to put me before his mum!

I hope these two fantastic women have a lovely, relaxing day.
And I hope they like the gifts we got them :)

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there!
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Friday, 28 March 2014

Word Vomit Friday

Happy Friday, blogland.

I've not had the greatest week. Wednesday, I could have sworn that I was dying! #noexaggeration 
I've never felt so bad. Wednesday night I had a bath and got into bed at 6:30pm and was asleep by 8pm. I slept right through (bar 10 minutes when I got up to pee) until 7am the next morning. I also only ate my usual breakfast of peanut butter and banana on toast and a couple of bags of Wotists (like Cheetos for my American readers) on Wednesday and anyone who knows me, knows that even when I'm ill, I can still eat. I had no appetite. I'm feeling much better today though, although I'm still not 100% but I'm on the mend :)

Before my sudden and debilitating illness, I signed up to the 1800 Minute Challenge as described here by the gorgeous Erin. I've been keeping up with my gym sessions since I joined in October but I thought this would be a great way to hold myself accountable and get in as much exercise/activity as I can. My real-life buddy Mandeep has also signed up. Feel free to check the #1800MinuteChallenge hash tag on Instagram for 
motivation and to see how we're all getting on. #bringiton!

I['m sure you were all mentally scared by my #nomakeupselfie photo last week, but I thought you;d like to know that the campaign has, as of the latest release, raised £8million, meaning Cancer Research UK can now fund 10 new clinical trials that they otherwise wouldn't have had the cash for! If you took part or donated, give yourself a huge pat of the back; you did good!

As of midnight tonight, same-sex marriage is 100% legal and available to couples in England and Wales! The Bill to make same-sex marriage law was passed last year but it's midnight on Saturday March 29th that it actually comes into force! Hallelujah! It's about time; and it's about time the rest of the world followed suit! #loveislove

As I've been busy being ill and recovering this week I don't have much else for you, so here are a few Buzzfeed links to brighten up your Friday...
Celebrity Instagrams You May Have Missed This Week
Magical Disney Movie Facts You Should Know
April Fools’ Day Pranks Your Kids Will Totally Fall For

Oh I should probably mention that it's highly unlikely that there will be a Word Vomit Friday next week as I'm OFF TO SEE THE BACKSTREET BOYS in concert at the O2 in London!!!!!!! #squeal 

Have a great weekend, peeps :)
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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Book Club: March

This year, I'm taking part in the majority of Bon's Book Club 
and it's time to review March's book, Divergent by Veronica Roth...
Good Reads description:
"In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

"During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are - and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves... or it might destroy her."
My (somewhat spoiler-free) Review:
I actually enjoyed this book, despite thinking I wouldn't. It took a while to read the first 15 or so chapters, but after giving myself a morning off, a whole four hours to just read (#heaven), I rapidly flipped through page after page, finally engaged with the story. There did seem to be a lot of build-up and prep (30 chapters out of the 39 in the book) for the final 'showdown', but I'm guessing that's because this is just book one in a three-book story. 

There was lots that I enjoyed about the book: I enjoyed reading about (and imagining) dystopian Chicago, the five fractions (even if it was confusing which personality traits belonged to which fraction in the beginning), the fraction-initiation process (which is the majority of the book) and the love story between Tris and Four (even if it was a little bit corny and 'cute' for my liking - I guess that's what you get for reading a YA novel aged 29!). 

But there were also aspects of the book I didn't like: I didn't like that society was divided into groups depending upon ONE personality trait - madness! Surely as a YA novel, this book should be teaching its teenage readers that being brave, selfless, honest, self-sufficient and wise are things we should all strive for - maybe that was the hidden message, but if it was, I think I missed it! 

I think the author missed the opportunity to further explore the world she created in this book, by looking closer at the fraction-less, those people who do not pass their fraction-initiation process or who leave their chosen fraction voluntarily. I hope Veronica Roth let's Tris and Four (and us as the reader) interact with the fraction-less more in the next two books because I, for one, am intrigued. 

I also think she missed the opportunity to 'flesh out' some of the characters more - she could have spent less time on Tris and her fight to become one of the top ten initiates (and therefore become a fully-fledged member of Dauntless) and more time with Christina, Will and even Al. I hope we see some of those characters in the next two books and I also hope we get to spend more time with Four - I like him!

Book club discussion questions *contains spoilers*:
+ Who is your favourite character in the novel and why?
Four was easily my favourite character and it was reading his journey, via Tris, that had me hooked. I was so intrigued by him and I can understand why Tris was attracted to him. Theo James plays Four in the movie and they did a great job casting him - that boy is a hottie - even if he is 10 years older than the character he plays! I can see myself reading  Four: A Divergent Collection when it comes out (in June or July, I think) because I actually like him, a lot! 

+ Did you like Tris as the main character? Why or why not? Do you see her as a strong female lead?
The word that best describes my feelings for Tris is 'meh'! She wasn't the worst female lead I've ever read about but she wasn't the best either. I get that she's only 16 but man, she's too self involved for my liking. Plus, she's a bit clueless - not knowing that Four fancied her and this...
"Those were your worst fears? Why do you only have four..." My voice trails off. Only four fears... "Oh." I look over my shoulder at him. "That's why they call you--" Well duh, Tris!

+ What did you think of the ending of the book? Was it satisfactory to you?
I'm keeping an open mind about the ending of the book because it's not the true ending is it, it's just the ending of book one. I've ordered book two and can't actually wait to see how the whole series ends.
I will say that I did think the mindless robot Dauntless did kinda come out of nowhere. It was a great way to confirm that Four is, in fact, Divergent too, but I think the ending gives a really bad message - that knowledge is ultimately dangerous. It's Erudite that value knowledge and they also want power, ergo knowledge and power are dangerous. I'm not sure that's a very good message to be sending to teenagers. I know that power can be dangerous and is said to corrupt, but can knowledge really be all that dangerous?

+ What was the most surprising or shocking thing in the book for you?
I think the death of Tris parents is supposed to be the most shocking part of the book, but unfortunately, I think Roth assumes we will tap into our own feelings, how we would feel if our parents were killed that way, because she certainly didn't build up any connection between the reader and Tris' parents. I cared more about her mum than her dad though. I'm sure something did shock me as I read the book but I can't remember it right now :( #illbrain

The most shocking thing I discovered about the movie is that my sweet darling Jai Courtney is playing Eric. I'm sure Jai can do a convincing job but he's too sweet and his eyes are too kind to be Eric! They've also not given him enough facial piercings in the movie!!

+ How do you feel about Tris and Four's relationship? Could you tell that Four liked her before Tris figured it out?
Hell yes I could tell he liked her and I also worked out before Tris did that Four was Marcus' son. I thought it was cute that he was the only other person to transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless in the history of the Fractions. I like the idea of soul mates :)

Starting next week, I'll be reading The Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern; 
look out for my review on Thursday 24th April.
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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

"We are fam-i-ly..."

A while ago, I realised I was following WAY too many American bloggers and only a couple of fellow UK bloggers. So, I did what any self-respecting blogger would do - I joined a UK Bloggers Facebook group!

Not only did I slightly increase the number of UK blogs I follow, but I was also presented with a fantastic opportunity to review a FREE canvas from Canvas Design.

My blog is just for fun, just for me and whoever else reads on the reg, so this was only my second opportunity to 'reap the benefits' all the big bloggers enjoy on a regular basis, and I wasn't disappointed!

Canvas Design emailed me for my details and an image on a Tuesday 
and by the following Monday I was admiring my new canvas...

Hubs hung it on the wall this past weekend and I'm well impressed.
(It's me and hubs, along with my parents, younger brother and his lovely girlfriend.)

My canvas is 20" x 30" (worth £29.99) and looks awesome hung in my living room.
Not sure if Hubby is more impressed with the canvas
or the fact that he hung it straight :)
 
Canvas Design are giving you the chance to own your 
very own canvas with a fantastic 15% discount
All you have to do is visit their website and 
enter the code BLOG15 at the checkout.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I did however receive a free canvas 
for the purpose of this review, but, as always, the views expressed are my entirely my own.

Happy Monday!
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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sundays are for...

lazy mornings with no alarm...
a 'naughty' breakfast...
roast dinners...
a leisurely stroll...
taking photos...
an early-ish night... 

Make the most of your Sunday today, 
you won't get another for seven whole days!
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