31 January 2014

Monthly Round-Up - January 2014

2014 has started off really quite well for me; I got 6 amazing books read, spent some time with my friends and somehow lived through my prelims (barely, though). They'll be some sort of reading wrap-up post up at some point in February and hopefully a monthly favourites (rare, I know) but, for now, I thought I would put all of January's posts in one little package for you. I hope January was great for you and that February is even better. ^_^ 

I hope the past month has treated you well! What was your favourite post from January?
Lots of love, Cat

29 January 2014

Favourite Beauty & Fashion Reference Books

Top photo: The Teen Vogue Handbook, Fifty Dresses That Changed The World, and Fifty Fashion Looks That Changed The 1960's
Bottom photo: Lauren Conrad 'Style', Fashion A-Z; An Illustrated Dictionary, and Decades Of Beauty.

I've never been a fan of non-fiction books but over the past couple of years, I've found myself building up a little collection of beauty and fashion reference books. There are some absolutely beautiful ones out there and they're perfect for flicking through when you're not in the mood for reading a novel. I get most of my beauty and fashion books from TK Maxx (they have a really good range and they're not too expensive) but the majority of them have been presents from my mum so I'm not sure of where each one is from. Beauty and fashion reference books are gorgeous and special but are also really useful for anyone who is interested in learning a bit more about the history of certain styles and trends.

Do you have any favourite beauty and fashion reference books?
Lots of love, Cat

25 January 2014

A Little Bargain Book Haul


The Earth Hums In B Flat by Mari Strachan - £2 (£3.99 Mari Strachan bundle)
Dead Man's Embers by Mari Strachan - £2 (£3.99 Mari Strachan bundle)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer - £3.49
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - £3.99

Before you ask; No, I am not having a laugh, those are the real prices. Honestly. I was doing a bit of online shopping and thought I would treat myself a pre-prelim present... I've been really stressed (and sleep-deprived) recently because of studying, homework and prelims, so spending a tenner on a few new books seemed like a good idea. I just need to wait until the prelims are over until I can read them (not sure how I'll manage that). The prices were actually better when I ordered them last week but, as you can see above, they're still bloody amazing. You probably want to know where the hell I found these books for £3...The Book People! They have an amazing range of books for stupidly low prices and they do bundles of books quite often. The two Mari Strachan books I got came in a £3 bundle (now £3.99) and there were other bundles of like, 5 books for £6ish. It's an amazing website. ^_^ 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? 
Lots of love, Cat

18 January 2014

What I Got For Christmas 2013!

Now I think about it, this probably should have been last week's post... I'm a little late on the band-wagon. Ah well, everyone loves Christmas, right? I was wearing a Christmas jumper yesterday: it's never too late. 

Needless to say, I've already got a lot of use out of everything I got for Christmas (it has been a few weeks, after all...) so I can happily say that my friends and family did amazingly well this year. I'm so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life, who know me so well and are always so kind and generous. Thank you! ^_^ 

The Urban Decay Naked Basics palette very quickly became a crucial part of my everyday make-up. I wear it everyday, usually using W.O.S all over my lids, Venus as an inner-corner highlight and Faint as a liner on my bottom lash-line and outer-corner (my eyes and face become one without any definition on the bottom lash-line...). The shadows are so smooth and last pretty much all day on me. I'll probably do some sort of review of this in the near future. :D Staying with make-up, the Real Techniques Core Collection also gets daily use. These brushes are amazing. They're so damn soft and apply make-up really nicely. I use the Contour brush for my face powder (Rimmel Stay Matte) because it lets you focus the powder on to the areas that really need it, and it never looks cakey with this brush. As far as make-up brushes go, these are brilliant. 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before...but I have an overwhelming love for BriBry. If you don't know who BriBry O'Reilly is, just look him up on YouTube. You won't regret it. :') My sister got me his signed EP bundle with all three of his EP's (Grow, Your Life Over Mine and Misadventure) and I may have cried a little bit when I unwrapped them. He's amazing; easily one of my favourite musicians. Sticking with music, I also got West Side Story on DVD this Christmas. It's my favourite musical in the world ever but I haven't owned it until now. I can finally watch it all day, every day. :D My main present this year was a beautiful silver iPod Classic (160GB). I was really needing a new iPod to replace my 7 year-old, 8GB, 3rd generation nano (I kid you not) which had been full for three years and no longer shuffled, turned off or locked, so I was more than happy to welcome O'Reilly into my life. Yes, I named him O'Reilly. ^_^ 

Now books! The lovely Rachel gave me 'The Catastrophic History of You and Me' by Jess Rothenberg and 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' by Stephanie Perkins, both of which I've read now. They were both absolutely amazing. Thank you so much Rachel! :D My parents also got me a couple of books: 'Ketchup Clouds' by Annabel Pitcher and 'Anna and the French Kiss' by Stephanie Perkins. I finished Anna and the French Kiss a couple of days after Christmas and seriously fell in love with it. I raved about it in my Best Books of 2013 post (here) and I have a feeling you'll be hearing a lot more about this book from me as it's now one of my all-time favourites. If you haven't already read it, go and read it. Now. It's so good... I'm yet to read Ketchup Clouds but I'm really looking forward to giving it a shot. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! 
Lots of love, Cat

11 January 2014

Best Of 2013 - Books

As far as reading goes, I didn't have the best year. I lost count near the end but I think I read about 20 books, many of which I didn't enjoy all that much. There were, however, a few stand-out books that have easily made it into my all-time favourites, which I'm going to share with you lovely people. ^_^ These are in a rough order going from 5th favourite to my 1st favourite, but number 1 and 2 are equal favourites. I should also mention that these aren't my favourite 2013 releases; they're the top 5 books that I read for the first time in 2013. If you want to see a list of all the books I read in 2013, you can see them on my Goodreads - here

5. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
This was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year as it had been on my book wishlist for several months before I got it in July. I remember when it came in the post and now happy I was when I saw the cover....it really is a beautiful book. It went with me to the Highlands when I went on holiday and I got it read in the first few days. It didn't actually meet my insanely high expectations, but I still really enjoyed it. Daniel Handler has a very unique writing style because he really doesn't rely on characterisation. You get to know the characters very subtly and gradually throughout the book, but I still didn't feel like I knew them all that well by the end. Normally this would annoy me but, for some reason, I liked that kind of mystery in this book. My favourite thing about Why We Broke Up is actually is the design, which is just flawless.

4. Nothing by Janne Teller
This was my last read of 2013 as well as being my last book purchase of the year. I bought it on the 27th and finished it on the 30th. I'd never heard of Nothing or Janne Teller but the cover and reviews caught my attention in Waterstones. It was described as being bold and terrifying, and I'm happy to say that it was both. It's not terrifying as being jumpy or a horror, it's more subtle and it's the whole concept that makes it scary. Nothing made me realise just how destructive peer-pressure and that whole mob-mentality can be, and was a really chilling read.

3. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Ohh I love this book. I read this on recommendation but I was slightly reluctant because it's really not the kind of thing I would normally read. I'm a fan of lighter novels, and The Wasp Factory is anything but light. It's impeccably written, the characters are built up fantastically and it is absolutely horrific. I won't give any spoilers, but I found myself literally gasping as I read parts and I cried multiple times.... I love books that makes me physically respond and leave a real impact, and The Wasp Factory definitely does. I really wouldn't recommend reading this if you are upset easily or are under the 16-ish age bracket.

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 
I got this book for Christmas and had it finished by the 27th...Needless to say, I absolutely loved it. I think it may actually be one of my all-time favourite books and maybe even my favourite book in that genre. It's too late because the photos are taken but I might actually like it more than Eleanor and Park. Stephanie Perkins is an amazing author: she has real flair, a unique writing style and a serious talent for building characters and setting. Anna and the French Kiss is set in Paris and you're really aware of at as you read it. The setting was so vivid and realistic. My favourite thing about it was easily the characters, though. Can I just marry St Clair, please?

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This was another highly anticipated read for me but, unlike Why We Broke Up, I wasn't at all let down. I read this in two days in August when I was ill and it took my mind off of feeling sick as I was completely sucked in. You get so invested in the character's lives and relationships; I felt like I was their friend, sitting behind them on the school bus and witnessing their lives unfold, so when something happened, I felt like I was part of it. This is such a funny, heart-warming and emotional book and I just know that I'll be re-reading it in the future. 

Have you read any of these? If you have, tell me what you thought! What were your favourite reads from 2013?
Lots of love, Cat

EDIT: I just reached 300 GFC followers! Thank you to every single one of you; your support means the world to me.

4 January 2014

2013 - An Amazing Year

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely New Year's Eve, whether you spent it with family, friends or your cats, and an equally lovely year throughout 2013. Personally, I kicked off 2014 by giving my cat a kiss on the nose before returning to my book (I'm not the biggest NYE person...). Whether you had a kinda rubbish, pretty good, or absolutely amazing 2013, I'm sure 2014 will be even better and will bring you a load of new opportunities and experiences. I think this is the first year where I've been kind of sad to say goodbye to the past 12 months... I have a really good feeling about 2014 and what it will bring but, for me, 2013 was wonderful. It may seem quite extreme, but I really feel like it was one of the best years of my life so far. You've heard bits about my year through various posts but, like last year, I thought it'd be nice to sum them all up in one post for you. Feel free to share snippets of 2013 in the comments below - I'd love to hear about your year!

2013 got off to a pretty good start. I was initially feeling very anxious at the beginning of January because I was going to be doing a week of work-experience at a library, which was going to be my first time properly working. I'm happy to say that my work-experience week went very well! I got on well with the staff (who were all absolutely lovely), managed to work the equipment pretty easily (I only broke the till once) and had a lovely week amongst the books. ^_^ Can't quite believe I'm saying this...but I actually miss working there. January was also the month of good films; I saw The Impossible with a couple of friends and Les Mis with my family at the Glasgow Film Theatre (my favourite cinema). Overall, a good start. 

February was easily one of my favourite months of the year but, at the same time, it was one of the most stressful ones. The thing that made it unbelievably amazing was also what made it a very anxious month - TFIOS Live in Glasgow. Don't get me wrong, it was so incredibly amazing and I loved every second, but the lead-up to it wasn't so much fun. I had my first real panic attack when my mum offered to buy me a ticket and another one just before we had to leave for the concert hall. I was absolutely fine once I was sitting down surrounded my hundreds of Nerdfighters (which was such an incredible feeling) but, for some reason, the whole experience was stressful for me. I've never been good with crowds... TFIOS Live was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced and I'm so stupidly happy that I made myself go, when I was very close to flaking out.

March was a big month for me as far as achievements go because I did something I would have never normally done and took a step towards overcoming one of my biggest fears. It might seem insignificant to some of you (especially if you do a lot of travelling) but I got on a train... I've mentioned it a few times before but one of my biggest fears is of public transport, especially trains, so getting a train with two of my friends really was a massive achievement for me. They were both wonderful and helped to keep me calm by being patient and taking my mind off of what was actually happening. I'm not sure when I'll get a train again but at least I know now that I can do it without too much stress. March also brought my friend's 16th birthday party which a group of us wore onesies to, despite our friend telling us specifically not to. It was a great night. :D

Another eventful month! I went to Easter school a few times in April and because my mum and dad were working, I had to get buses there and back every day. Like I mentioned a minute ago, I hate public transport, so this was quite a bit hurdle for me to get over (excuse the awful metaphor). I managed with no major issues and have been getting buses regularly ever since - I've actually grown to like them. ^_^ Now I think about it, April was a very bus-full month because, on top of my Easter school journeys, I got the bus to my friend's house (which I hadn't been to before) and the bus to Glasgow with my sister to visit the new Forever 21. April also brought a blogging milestone as I hit 250 GFC followers! Thank you so much to every single one of you for sticking with me.

Things calmed down a bit in May thanks to the sudden flood of studying that came before my 4th year exams. I had exams all throughout the month so when I wasn't sitting one, I was studying for one. Fun times... I did manage to throw an impromptu Eurovision party with my friends though. Strange as it seems, I'm a massive fan of Eurovision and I tend to get really into it every year. It was only fitting to throw a party for it. :D

I had my last exam on the 5th of June (also Pete Wentz, Troye Sivan and my mum's birthday) so, to celebrate, I had a little party with my friends. It was a beautiful day - most of June had amazing weather, actually - and we went to see The Great Gatsby first which was incredible. That film is stunning. I also went to Glasgow's West-End Festival with my family on one of the hottest days of the year and, despite it being insanely busy, I had a lovely time. ^_^ Seriously though, it was so hot...

July signified the start of my Summer holidays! On the very first day, my friend came over to attempt to ombre my hair. Needless to say, it didn't work. :'D That was also the same day that Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler came in the post. Like June, July had absolutely beautiful weather so we all decided to make the most of it and spend a day at the beach. I was burried in the sand and made into a mermaid at one point, ate sandy chips and my friends somehow got me in the sea for a while. It was an amazing day. ^_^ I also went on holiday to the Highlands for a week but I won't talk about that in this post because I've done three very in-depth posts about my holiday already. You can see them here, here and here. I actually did a summary post of July with more detail about what I got up to which you can see here. It was probably my favourite month of the year... Unfortunately, Cory Monteith passed away in July, meaning that the whole month was tinged with sadness.

August was my birthday month! However, before I could enjoy turning 16, I had to get my exam results. That envelope was due to arrive two days before my birthday (thanks, SQA) which was also the day of my movie-themed costume birthday party. I dressed up as Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show - you can see my costume and how I achieved it here - and had a wonderful time with my friends. Luckily, we all had plenty to celebrate because we all did well in our exams! Seriously, though; opening that envelope was one of the scariest moments of my life. I turned 16 on the 8th of August and had a lovely day with my family - you can see what I got for my birthday here. ^_^ One of my birthday presents / reward for my exam results was a beautiful new concert ukulele which I named Finn. I got to go and pick him out on the 6th (that was an eventful day...) and he is now my baby. August was also the month of good books as it was the month that I finally read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I read it in two days and absolutely loved it.

Things calmed down a little in September with the only real event being my friend's 16th birthday. She had a big party with all of her friends, complete with a tent at the bottom of the garden which was quickly adopted by a small group of us and christened the 'Party Tent'. I spent pretty much the full night in that tent with my friends, just singing and prank-calling our other friends because we are so mature (this immaturity may have been caused by a few of us being slightly tipsy...). On the day of my friend's birthday, a few of us went to the see the One Direction movie but we won't talk about that. I'll just say that I may have teared up and I'm not proud of it.

October was another big month and probably one of my favourites. It was kicked off with the arrival of Glee Season 5 (OH MY GOSH), complete with a two-week Beatles special - which I was quite nervous about due to my love for the Beatles - and a KLAINE PROPOSAL. Then, the fourth episode was the Cory Monteith tribute which was beautiful, heart-felt and the perfect tribute for such an amazing guy. FOUR FOR YOU GLEE, YOU GO GLEE... Glee aside, October was also the month that I went busking with my friend, Beka. You can read more about that here, but it was probably one of my favourite days of the year - if not my life, so far - and I'm incredibly proud of myself for going busking. I'm a very quiet and shy person, so it was quite an achievement. ^_^

November was a very quiet month for me, mainly because school-work suddenly piled up and I found myself spending the majority of my time doing homework. There was one really great day though; Children In Need 2013! My school always gets really involved with CIN but because this was my first year being a senior, it was the first year that I could help out. All of the seniors dressed up and had jobs to do - mine was 'crowd-control' aka. standing at the sidelines, shouting at the kids who refused to stay sat down. I dressed as a zombie... It was a really great day and a nice change from all of the crappy schoolwork I'd been doing. One other exciting thing happened in November: I finally bought my own laptop! I'd been saving for almost two years and November was the month that I finally decided to buy my laptop. I got an ASUS something-or-other... I'm not an expert but my dad's a technician and he told me it's good one. :D Can you tell that November was a slow month? 

We all know what December means.....CHRISTMAS!! I am an incredibly festive person (I started wearing Christmas jumpers in September this year) so I love December. A lot. Going Christmas shopping is one of my favourite things in the world so the lead-up to Christmas is always very exciting for me, and this year was no exception. I had an amazing day with my family who were all super lovely and thoughtful with their gifts - I've got a 'What I Got For Christmas' post lined up, so keep an eye out for that! ^_^ December was also a sad month though, as it was the month that my amazing friend, Amy, was leaving school to start her hairdressing apprenticeship. To celebrate her fancy mature-ness, we all went out for dinner on the 22nd and I ate the most amazing burrito. It was a lovely night and the perfect way to send Amy off to her fancy-pants placement, but I will miss her everyday when I'm not sitting next to her on the school bus...

I think that may be the longest post I've ever done. Well done if you managed to read it all! :'D I hope you all an amazing year and that 2014 treats you well.
Lots of love, Cat
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