Sunday, 30 August 2015

How to Style: Button-Down Skirts


If you've been anywhere near the internet in the last few months you may have noticed that (love them or hate them) these button-down skirts have become a major trend. As the weather gets colder I've noticed them beginning to materialise in the autumn/winter collections of high street stores such as New Look and Topshop, and I have to admit I've tried a couple on. But somehow I can never figure out what I'd wear one with, so I decided to play around with some possible combinations on Polyvore.

1. Thanks to tumblr I can't help but associate these skirts with the whole 'art hoe' aesthetic, which includes taking photos in art galleries, collecting books about artists, wearing things like block colours, striped tops, artsy socks, and Kanken rucksacks. Personally I think the whole thing is adorable and I just wish mustard was more my colour, so in honour of my appreciation the first of these outfits is decidedly 'art hoe'. Button-down skirts look great with a simple patterned top, and this stripy one would look nice tucked in too.

2. This type of skirt might be on the casual side of things, but I think you could easily dress them up with any kind of smartish top, heels, bling and a little evening bag. The effect probably wouldn't work quite as well with the traditional denim skirt but they come in all materials and colours, such as this red corduroy one.

3. Button-down skirts don't necessarily have to be stiff denim either - this one is much softer, more summery and potentially more flattering. It would look great with a little crop top, such as this patterned one which complements the colour scheme, and some matching accessories. I also love the detail of the alternating button colours.

4. Although they tend to be displayed with autumnal colours, there's no reason why you couldn't put together a really 'girly' look with a button-down skirt. White ones make this especially easy as they're extremely versatile - I've paired this one with a pink gingham crop top, some adorable cat flats and a novelty purse, perhaps a little inspired by Kailey of Mermaidens blog.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Cry Baby Outfits


Ever since Melanie Martinez's album Cry Baby came out on the 14th August, I have been listening to it obsessively. The whole concept is an absolute joy - each song is based around an 'adult' situation, with a childish take seen through the eyes of the character of Cry Baby, who is supposed to be nearly synonymous with Melanie herself. But the album has a lot of whimsical elements that make it hard to separate fact from fiction, resulting in a delightful mixture of fairytale and harsh reality. My favourite tracks are definitely Dollhouse, Mrs Potato Head and Mad Hatter.

In order to channel my enthusiasm about this album I decided to head over to Polyvore and put together an outfit for each of the songs, and since I'm really quite pleased with how they all turned out I thought I'd share them here on my blog as well. I tried to capture the atmosphere of each song, while also adding my own interpretation. For instance, I associate Training Wheels with vehicles and technology, so I went for a slightly futuristic vibe for that one, while I can't help thinking of Nabokov's Lolita every time I hear Tag You're It so I used some typical 'nymphet' style pieces in that outfit.

If you're a fan of Melanie I hope these speak to you in some way, and if you don't know who she is this is your prompt to check her out!


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Rainy Day Out


I've always wanted to do a 'day in the life' kind of post but for one reason or another an exciting day with photo opportunities has never coincided with me having my camera on my person and also having the presence of mind to use it. However, yesterday I went to the cinema with my best friend to see Paper Towns, and we decided to combine it with a trip up one of Belgium's most famous landmarks - aka the Atomium.

We figured out that there were only a couple of cinemas still showing Paper Towns in Brussels, neither of which were the cinema we tend to frequent but we decided to make it a little adventure (which soon became a running joke, oh dear) to find our way there. In the end we had to take two trams and it took us over an hour to get there, but it was worth it as along the way we got to see parts of the city we don't usually see.

the view from the cinema, before the weather turned somewhat
The movie itself was more or less what I expected. I read the book a while ago so I'd forgotten most of the plot, which is a testimony to the fact that it didn't particularly wow me, and I felt the same way about the film. It was one of those movies that I wanted to see more out of curiosity than anything else, but I've come to the conclusion that I much preferred it to The Fault in Our Stars, eesh. I was also interested to see Cara Delevingne's acting, which was really quite good in my humble opinion. All in all it was a lovely feel-good comedy/drama, which was actually quite funny in some places and extremely cringey in all the others.

Next we walked down the road to this fairly forbidding-looking structure, which I always think wouldn't look out of place in an adaptation of The War of the Worlds. The Atomium was built in 1958 for the Brussels World Fair (Expo 58), and the design is modelled after the structure of an iron crystal magnified several billion times. The name comes from a combination of atom and aluminium, which is what the round bits are made out of - look at all the facts I managed to retain! Each sphere has about three floors, but only a few of them are open to the public, including the top one which is a restaurant. I'd been inside the Atomium before, but I was probably only about five so I have only the vaguest memory of it.

The spheres are linked by a mixture of escalators and staircases, the latter sporting a rather vintage paint combination of red and turquoise.

On the way back down we realised it was in fact raining torrentially, which made for some pretty atmospheric shots.

The final escalator had this fancy lighting that flashed red and blue, very jazzy indeed and probably the bit I was most excited about.

After we left the Atomium (in the pouring rain I might add, we got absolutely soaked despite two umbrellas) we embarked on the long and tedious journey home. But it was well worth the trip!


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Things to do this Summer


I was going to publish this a while ago as the end of the summer is already in sight, but since I for one still have six weeks of holiday here you are anyway. I know as well as anyone how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to get up and do something productive during the summer, and I tend to get stuck in unproductive ruts which last for days or weeks. So here are a few ideas of things to do that are easy, (mostly) free, and best of all don't require leaving your house - but hopefully they'll also provide you with a sense of actually having done something that day.

Start a blog
I started bibliophilia at the beginning of summer 2013 as a kind of project for the summer and it was such a nice way to fill the days. What I love about blogging is that it can be anything you want it to be: some people blog solely about beauty and/or fashion, others do reviews or DIYs or more writing-based posts. And don't ever feel like you have to follow a strict formula or stick to a certain type of blogging that you've seen around, just allow yourself to get inspired to be creative in your own space.

Clear out your wardrobe
I do this fairly often even though I don't always throw much out, and I'm actually planning to do a thorough clearout sometime in the next few days. My standard rule is to get rid of anything that I can't remember the last time I wore it, or if I know it's not my style any more. Best of all it means you're making space for new clothes!

Make an account on a new social media site
Maybe this isn't the most productive pastime in the world but very few people who don't enjoy scrolling through some type of social media and it can definitely while away the hours. My favourites are tumblr, polyvore and instagram, but there are so many more to get stuck into including twitter, pintrest, wattpad, goodreads and lots more.

Try a new recipe
I love baking when I have a lot of time on my hands - I find the whole process really therapeutic and best of all you get to sample the results! Cooking is such a life skill and what better time to master a few simple recipes than over the summer holidays.

Do something creative
e.g. tie-dye a T-shirt, make a birthday card, create a scrapbook page, do a photoshoot etc. I'm currently in the process of making some aromatherapy candles from a kit I found in my basement, it's been really fun to decorate the little jars and such.

Challenge yourself to read a whole book in a day
I often do this on days where I have literally nothing to do, usually when it's too hot outside to consider doing anything other than lying in front of a fan. If you pick one you really get into, you'll be surprised how easy it is to whizz through a novel.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

What I've Been Watching #1


I was going to call this 'recent watches' to match my 'recent reads' posts but I just wasn't feeling the lack of alliteration so we're going with this for the time being. Anyway, this does exactly what it says on the tin: I'm going to ramble on about the films I've been watching lately, and let me tell you I've watched A LOT of them in the past couple of weeks because I've made a list of every movie I've ever wanted to see and I'm just working my way through them. Because there are so many I'm not so much reviewing them as giving my reaction in bite-size chunks - I hope you enjoy!

Marie Antoinette (2006)
I'd wanted to see this film for the longest time and (although I really hate to say it) I was ever so slightly disappointed. Visually it was beyond stunning, I loved the rococo aesthetic and I even liked the character of Marie Antoinette even though I get the feeling you're not supposed to, in a slightly Daisy Buchanan kind of way. But it was just so vapid and slow and frustrating, I felt like I was watching it in a dream and willing things to move faster - to be fair that might have been the fault of the video I was watching because even though I have the DVD my laptop was playing up and not recognising the disc so I ended up just looking for a good YouTube upload, and the one I found wasn't brilliant. But still.

The Virgin Suicides (1999)
This is another one I'd wanted to see for-absolutely-ever, and it was exactly what I'd expected in the hazy shots of the neighbourhood and the 1970s vibes. It had such a dream-like quality, but in the best possible way and not so that it made me feel like I was wading through treacle. Kirsten Dunst was Lux Lisbon to an absolute T and the whole thing was just such a lovely watching experience, I know it'll be one I come back to again and again.

The Moth Diaries (2011)
Ever since I read and LOVED the book (see my glowing review here) I knew I had to watch this, and it was just what I'd been hoping for. I thought it was kind of a shame that it wasn't set in the 70s like the book is, which meant that the whole idea of the diary/flashback was left out, but the whole boarding school vibe was nevertheless on point. The pacing was excellent and Lily Cole was chillingly fabulous as Ernessa. I also loved all the surreal scenes towards the end that made you begin to doubt the reliability of the narrator, those were done really well in my opinion.

Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Another one where I read and loved the book, and since this film was made a year after its publication in 1966 I was interested to see the contemporary interpretation. Although it's been a while since I read the book and I can't recall all the detail of the plot, it seemed really quite authentic both in its trueness to the novel and obviously to the period it's set in. Having said that I remember a bit more of the book being dedicated to Anne and her television career, whereas the film seemed to focus more on Neely and to an extent Jennifer. Nevertheless I really loved this, for the fabulous outfits as much as anything else!

Chloe (2009)
I didn't really have any burning passion to see this film, I actually came across it when I saw a still of Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson on tumblr and I desperately had to find out what it was from, so I just googled the two actors' names and it came up with Chloe, which of course I promptly searched on YouTube and it came up. Speaking of burning passions it really is quite erotic but the acting is superb and the plot went a whole different way that I'd been expecting, thanks to an amazing twist towards the end.

An Education (2009)
I watched a pretty bad quality version of this on YouTube but a girl I follow on tumblr keeps recommending it so I just had to see it, however pixelated the screen was from time to time. It's set in the 1960s and tells the true story of a schoolgirl who is seduced by a glamorous older man who takes her to art shows and fancy restaurants and eventually Paris, and oh it was just wonderful and atmospheric and I loved all of it.

American Beauty (1999)
Yet another film I've been seeing screenshots of on tumblr for what seems like my whole life, but apparently those screenshots were carefully selected because this wasn't what I'd expected at all. I'd built up an impression of something much more Lolita-esque (thanks tumblr), but it turned out to be a nonetheless really interesting portrayal of suburban life in America.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
I adore the book of this and the film has joined its ranks as one of my all-time favourites. It's quite different to everything else on this list, in as much as it's full of history and earthy colours but the story is utterly beautiful. I was conscious, however, that it could be considered a diluted form of art, in that it's a film based on a book about a painting of a real life person - an interesting thought maybe, but it didn't mean I enjoyed it any the less. Also, Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson were a match made in heaven in this.

Heathers (1988)
I'm not sure why but I expected this to be just your average 80s high school teen movie with cliques and baseball games and power struggles and it was, it was just a LOT darker and more interesting than that - exactly my kind of thing. It was unexpectedly surreal in places which I enjoyed once I'd got to grips with the feel of it, and Winona Ryder was just fabulous, although I can't believe she was only 16 at the time of filming!

Legally Blonde (2001)
Surprisingly I'd never seen this, but I knew about it and had some idea of the plot. I expected to like it and I did mostly, but something just didn't sit right with me. I get that the whole point is that a girl can like clothes and getting her nails done and also have brains, but Elle didn't have brains, she was just extraordinarily lucky and relied on some happy coincidences. I don't know, I just think the story could have been done so much better, but then who am I to say?

Dead Poet's Society (1989)
I saw this in Ethics class a few years ago (not because it's a particularly ethical film, it was just one among the many, many, many we watched over the course of seven years) and I remembered the vague plot and also liking it. So I thought I'd rewatch it and wowza, it hit me right in the feels. I only wish my English teachers had been that inspiring, it might have motivated certain people in my class and made the whole experience rather less tedious! The only criticism I have of this film is that it doesn't have enough girls in it, but anyway.

Romeo & Juliet (2013)
I was actually looking to watch the 1996 version of this but I couldn't find it on YouTube so I just went with this one. I haven't read the play so I can't really comment on the accuracy of the adaptation, - although it is one of my brother's English texts for next year so there's currently a copy sitting around if I wanted to give it a whirl, which I may well do now. I don't know quite what it was about this film, it just didn't wow me and a lot of the acting seemed quite forced.

Let me know in the comments if you've seen any of these and what you thought!


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Forever 21 Picks


It's time for another picks post, and this time I've been lusting after basically the whole of the contents of the Forever 21 site. This is doubly tragic because we no longer have an actual store in Brussels so I can't even go out and hunt any of these down, but I thought I'd share my favourite items with you anyway.

starting from top left

Collarless Faux Leather-Panelled Coat / 26.57 x
This coat is so simple but also so chic and elegant - a timeless piece, if you will. I think it would be suitable for multiple occasions because it falls nicely between casual and smart, in a 'not too overdressed but still looking like you mean business' kind of way.

Pleated Houndstooth Midi Skirt / €21 x
I love houndstooth patterns and I love how midi skirts look - they produce a beautiful silhouette. For some reason I don't think I'd ever be able to pull them off, but even so I really adore this skirt and for me it's another classic item of clothing.

Abstract Arrow Flounce Romper / €16 x
This playsuit is just so adorable I can't get over it. It's loose and flowy so in my opinion it's an ideal summer piece, plus I'm told that kind of blue brings out my eyes (which are grey, but anyway).

Longline Tartan Plaid Shirt / €21 x
I love plaid shirts and I love them 900 times more if I can get away with wearing them as dresses over tights. So far I only have one that's long enough (and about 6 that aren't), but even if this red one turned out to be just your average shirt length I'd still love it because I really like the colour.

Striped Zipper-Back Crop Top / €14 x
This is such a simple piece, perhaps not a staple but I imagine this would be really useful to have in your wardrobe. I'd wear it with a denim skirt or jeans, or with skater skirts.

Ruffled Trim Polka Dot Blouse / €19.50 x
I'm having visions of wearing this shirt tucked into some plain grey trousers with that black coat over the top and a pair of sleek heels and my Michael Kors bag on one arm - how utterly sophisticated would that look? Gah I think I'm turning into a 30-year-old office worker, send help please...

Peter Pan Collar Plaid Dress / €23.50 x
This dress is so me it's ridiculous, I mean plaid, a collar and a slightly pleated skater skirt, what more could you want?

Contrast-Collared Dress / €21 x
Okay so I do already have a Wednesday Addams-esque dress, but it shrank in the wash and is now basically unwearable so I'm in the market for a new one because for me it is an utter wardrobe staple. As far as I can tell this one is beautifully structured, and I also love the contrast of the white edging on the sleeves.

Lace-Trimmed Floral Shorts / €15 x
Something about these shorts really appeals to me, the pattern is lovely and the lace edging just finishes them off beautifully. They would look so nice with just a simple plain white top for an effortless summery outfit!

Faux Leather Loafers / €22 x
I feel like these picks are all quite sophisticated, but these shoes take the biscuit. Even thought they're pretty inoffensive, they're the kind of thing I wouldn't have been seen dead in a year ago (I was too cool and 'alternative'). I think my sudden desire to look 'grown up' might have something to do with heading off to university in the near future...

Quilted Velveteen Crossbody / €14.70 x
This is probably my dream bag, in that it's velvet, quilted and the colour of my bedroom walls (well, two of them). It's rare for me not to opt for black bags, but I'm starting to see what people mean when they talk about adding 'a pop of colour' to an outfit, ahaha.

Faux Suede T-Strap Pumps / €26 x
I don't know what it is about T-strap shoes but I desperately want some, besides the Mary Janes I already own I mean. I love the slightly vintage vibe and these ones are also quite practical (for high heels) because of the straps, as I am terrible at walking in heels unless there is some sort of strap keeping them on my feet. Wouldn't they go nicely with that blouse and jacket though?

Hope you enjoyed my Forever 21 picks!


Thursday, 13 August 2015

Review: Forbidden Spaces Trilogy by Helen Grant


I recently finished reading the Forbidden Spaces trilogy by Helen Grant and I thought I'd review it here because I've realised I love and hate these books in equal measures and I need somewhere to vent my frustration and praise. You'll see what I mean. Anyway, the trilogy consists of (obviously) three books: Silent Saturday, The Demons of Ghent and Urban Legends. I'd read Silent Saturday a couple of times before, but I only acquired the other two relatively recently so this is the first time I'd read them all together and in one go.

I've been a fan of Helen Grant's books for a while (she is perhaps best known for The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, but The Glass Demon and Wish Me Dead are equally creepy and gruesome and all set in the German town of Bad Munstereifel) so I was beyond excited to find out she was writing some novels set in and around Brussels, i.e. close to where I live. The first book, Silent Saturday, is named after the day before Easter Sunday when - according to Flemish tradition - the church bells fly away to Rome to collect eggs for the children. It came out on the day itself of 2013, the day after which I attended the book launch at my local English bookshop where Helen Grant was chatting with readers and signing copies - I very boringly asked about her inspiration for the novel etc etc, but I was really happy to get a personally signed copy!

Anyway. As I said, the books are set in Belgium: Silent Saturday is set mostly in the area to the south east of Brussels, The Demons of Ghent is (surprise surprise) set in Ghent, and Urban Legends returns to the same area as the first book. This was appealing enough in itself for me, as while there's never any shortage of YA novels set in the UK or US, it's much rarer to come across a book which is actually set in the area you know when that area is in a relatively small and overlooked country such as Belgium. However, I soon realised that there are disadvantages to having familiar streets and landmarks connected with a story of murders and serial killings, which I will get to later.

A quick and not entirely spoiler-less summary: the protagonist is 17-year-old Veerle De Keyser, who lives in an unnamed Flemish village to the south east of Brussels. She goes to school in a bigger town and lives a relatively normal life in a small house with her mother, albeit dominated by the latter's obsessive caution and fear for Veerle's safety at all times - especially as one of Veerle's favourite pastimes is scaling the climbing wall in a nearby town. In the end it is more or less as a direct result of this claustrophobic environment and an unwillingness to return home one evening that Veerle, on the way back from the climbing wall, decides to get off the bus and investigate a light in an abandoned and ramshackle castle she passes every day. There she meets Kris Verstraeten, a boy she knew from her village but who had moved away. But they have a deeper, more horrifying connection: ten years ago on Silent Saturday they climbed up to the top of the church tower in their village to see if the church bells had indeed flown away, and happened to witness the child killer Joren Sterckx on his way into the village, holding his victim (this is described in the first chapter and becomes central to the story). Back in the present day, Kris introduces her to a group of urban explorers, the Koekoeken (or Cuckoos), who break into empty buildings all over Brussels and the surrounding area for the thrill of it. Soon Veerle and Kris are exploring a series of luxuriously opulent houses that stand empty much of the year, doing a little maintenance work in payment for spending time there. Veerle's climbing skills come in extremely handy for scaling the front of buildings, too. But soon they realise something sinister is going on in the heart of the Koekoeken: people are disappearing without a trace and soon bodies start turning up. Kris and Veerle hatch a plan to lure the killer out into the open...

In the second book, Veerle leaves her old life in Vlaams-Brabant behind and goes to live with her father in Ghent. She tries to stay out of trouble but soon enough she is introduced to a whole other side of the city: the sprawling rooftops, a maze of surfaces and heights that prove to be no trouble for Veerle's climbing expertise. But there is something else roaming the rooftops - and when people start falling from great heights, their crumpled bodies found surrounded by salt, Veerle knows there is something dark and dangerous at work.

The idea of the 'demons of Ghent' is central to this book: the legend surrounds the painting 'The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb', by the Van Eyck brothers, and claims that the hundred and seventy people in the painting were painted from real life models, and their punishment for being immortalised in art was that they could never die, except by violence. The demons that roam the rooftops are there to make sure they never get to rest. The way the book revolves around an old legend reminded me a lot of Helen Grant's other books, especially The Glass Demon and meant that for me it didn't have nearly the same impact as the other two books in which the villain is a cold-blooded killing machine stalking his prey for the hell of it and so there is very little of the mystical/mythical quality found in her earlier books. In fact this became particularly apparent, as in all three books the chapters where we see Veerle are interspersed with chapters from the point of view of the villain - namely De Jager (or The Hunter) in books one and three and 'the man who was Death' in book two. To say these chapters are chilling and creepy is an understatement, but De Jager in particular was able to turn my blood cold with the sheer evil that he exuded, in a way that 'the man who was Death' couldn't.

I won't go into the plot of the third book because it's spoiler city for anyone who's read the first. Silent Saturday and Urban Legends are closely connected in terms of storyline and everything else, to the point where I was beginning to question the point of The Demons of Ghent altogether. It's true that you could read Urban Legends without having read The Demons of Ghent, but you could not read it without having read Silent Saturday - or at least not appreciate it. The second book works almost as well as a story on its own than as part of a trilogy, but I have to admit it did allow for some character development and the setting up of a couple of key plot details for the final instalment.

Grant's writing is well-paced and easy to read. In thrillers/crime novels I always look for that moment when all the strands come together to form the bigger picture, and there are plenty of those in the series - often this can be done clumsily, but Grant weaves the strands skilfully, dropping crumbs here and there and leading the story in twists and turns so that the reader can never quite see all the way to the end.

I really loved the characters of Kris and Veerle: they were tangible and had a lot of depth, as well as realistic emotions. This was combined with just the right amount of gusto and bravery in dangerous situations to keep the reader interested, but not enough to dismiss them as ridiculous stupid thrill-seekers. I thought Veerle in particular was courageous and dynamic in the appropriate situations, but equally cautious and reserved when the moment called for that. The whole love triangle thing (first with Kris's ex-girlfriend and then with a boy Veerle meets in Ghent) didn't really do anything for me, but ultimately I realised the relationship between Kris and Veerle is really essential for the final showdown at the end of the third book.

The other thing I loved about these books is the way Grant really captures Belgian culture and the language divide - a difficult feat as it's not as simple as people might think. The descriptions of Ghent and it's stunning old buildings were one thing, but I was impressed with the way the language differences were acknowledged without needing a huge explanation. As this is something I regularly have to explain to people who don't live here, I appreciated this a great deal. I also like that Grant kept the names of towns according to their respective languages: for example Namur keeps the French version, while Ghent and Brussels use the English spelling so as not to confuse the reader. The mentions of British expats were perhaps uncomfortably close to home - but all fair comments, and I enjoyed seeing that mild conflict in a couple of places.

All in all I really enjoyed this series. Except for the fact, of course, that I now automatically associate certain places I've been driving past all my life with the scene of murders and other gruesome deeds. My enthusiasm over finding a series that was set in my adopted country waned ever so slightly when I realised that this is not just your average YA thriller. These books are unflinchingly horrifying in the details you probably wouldn't want to know, so they're definitely not for the faint-hearted or the squeamish - which I would probably consider myself to be, but I survived by sleeping with the lights on. I would really recommend the series to anyone who's ever lived in Belgium (friends, I'm looking at you) and to anyone who just really enjoys a good thriller.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Zodiac Tag


I recently saw this zodiac-themed tag/set of questions on Polyvore and I thought it was really neat and original, so I decided to do it as a blog post!

• What or who is your inspiration?
I would say mostly people and their creations, like I'm inspired by anyone who is artistic and really commits themselves to their art, whether it's drawing, painting, writing, singing or even blogging!
• Do you often have a short-temper? 
I don't often lose my temper, I tend to just kind of detach myself from the situation or get really passive-aggressive.
• Do you often have days where you either hot or cold with anybody, not in-between?
I suppose so, not often though.

• What’s something you have a very strong opinion about?
Social justice, feminism, equality, education, mental health-related topics etc.
• Would people consider you to be materialistic?
Probably, I like being surrounded by home comforts and I shop A LOT.
• Is it hard for you to accept change? 
Yes, I like to stick to a routine and I don't get bored easily so when change comes it can be destabilising.

• What would someone have to do in order to catch your attention?
I suppose stand out from the crowd? Kind of an ambiguous question really...
• Do you often feel at war with two different aspects of yourself? 
• Would people consider you to be flighty?
No, I tend to be focused and determined.

• What gets you emotional?
Everything, I cry at movies, books, random thoughts that occur to me, and I cry just as much when I'm happy as when I'm sad, haha.
• Are you family orientated in everything you do?
• Do you feel the need to be needed? 
I suppose so, but I think nearly everyone does.

• What are you best at?
Being organised, keeping things tidy, keeping on top of things, planning etc. I like to think I have an eye for design too but that might be wishful thinking!
• Do people often assume you’re pretentious? 
I have no idea.
• Do you hate being alone? 
No, I enjoy my own company.

• Name an interesting fact about yourself. 
Ugh I hate this question because I can never tell if a 'fact' is interesting or not or if it sounds like I'm boasting about something... I'm just going to say I can swear in six languages and leave it at that.
• Do you often over analyze simple situations?
Haha yep, all the time.
 • Are you often sceptical? 
Yes, I think I have a very sceptical outlook on life and people's motivations.

• How far would you go to make someone feel better?
As far as is practical? 
• Do others consider you to be stuck up?
How am I supposed to know?? I hope not.
• Do you often try to find common ground when in a political debate?
Not usually, I tend to just push my point and get annoyed when people don't agree with me.

• Do you believe in love at first sight? 
• Would you often call yourself a moody person? 
My family probably would, I don't know about anyone else.
• Do you tell it like it is to your friends? 
Depends what, I probably sugarcoat a lot of things in reality.

• What’s your biggest goal in life? 
To be happy, financially stable and passionate about my job. Also write a bestselling novel and probably go into politics to change everything I don't like about the world (unlikely).
• Are you often humorous?
Apparently I sometimes am without trying to be, so yeah I suppose so.
• Would you like to go on many adventures?
Sure, but only if you give me advance warning and let me pack a bag first.

• Are you someone who trusts easily? 
I don't think so.
• Are you self-sufficient?
Obviously not in terms of money, food, home etc, but I'm perfectly happy to spend a lot of time alone.
• Do you often conceal yourself from the world around you?
Again, ambiguous but I guess so? 

• How loyal are you to other people? 
Very loyal if they deserve my loyalty.
• Do you come across as cold and aloof at times?
Probably, very.
• Do you often think about the complexities of life? 
All the time.

• Do you hide how you feel or do you speak your mind?
Depends on the situation, I'd say about 50/50.
• Have you ever given it your all just to have someone walk away from your life? 
• Do you have any skills or interests in the arts? 
I'm interested but skill-less.

About You
• What sign are you? 
• What sign is your best friend?
Scorpio and Sagittarius
• What sign is the person you like/significant other? 
No such person
• Do you believe in astrology?
Most of the time, I don't believe in daily horoscopes but in my experience I find things like birth charts tend to be scarily accurate.
• If you could change your sign would you? 
No, I love being the water-bearer ahahaha.

I tag anyone reading this!


Friday, 7 August 2015

Clothes & Accessories Haul


This is the second part of the mighty UK haul, containing clothes, accessories and a few other miscellaneous things - see the first part (books & DVDs) here. Just to be clear this is the result of three or so mini shopping trips (one to Primark and Topshop, one to H&M and one to New Look) and not a major spending spree or anything quite so extravagant! (Although I would probably do that)

Jurassic World Tshirt, £6

I don't usually go in for the branded clothes you find in Primark, but when I spotted this I knew I had to have it. Not only do I love the whole Jurassic Park franchise, I actually like the tshirt - it's comfortable and if nothing else at least has pyjama potential.

Denim Playsuit, £12

Before I went shopping I had idly scrolled through some of the Primark website, just in case I spotted anything worth hunting down, and this little denim playsuit was top of my list. It's a really soft fabric, which I like as it's a nice alternative to thick ordinary denim dungarees and perfect in hot weather.

Striped Top, £4 / Patterned Top, £4

I admit it, I caved and bought one of those round neck black and white striped tshirts that seem to be all the rage on tumblr these days. That said, it has instant casual potential with the right skirt or pair of jeans - a wardrobe staple, if you will. The tank top goes beautifully with my hair and is just one of those basic Primark tanks that I always pick up (I am in fact wearing a daisy print one as I type this).

Mary Janes, £10

My patent 'leather' school shoes have seen better days after a few rainstorms (and getting covered in champagne at the end of the school year - nice) and as they are probably my favourite shoes I decided in invest in another pair. Anyone who is a half shoe size will know my struggle (38.5/5.5 right here), but I always think it's better to opt for the bigger size when it comes to Primark shoes as they're unlikely to stretch with your feet.

Black Bag, £3.50 / Blue Purse, £3
Makeup Sponges, £1.50 / Eyeshadow Brush, £1 / Fast Dry Nail Varnish Spray, £0.80

The little bag is really only big enough for a phone and a packet of tissues, but for me black bags are such a necessity and I have one in pretty much every shape and size. I also needed a new purse to replace my current (broken) one. Next I idly browsed the makeup section (which I don't usually waste money on because obviously the quality is terrible), and ended up getting some makeup sponges and a brush - this is because I don't own any makeup brushes and I'm planning to experiment a bit with concealer application and such. Finally I spotted what claims to be nail polish fast dry spray, which I can see becoming a favourite product of mine if it works and if it doesn't it only cost 80p anyway!

Black and White Trousers, Topshop, £7 (sale) 

I don't think I've ever bought anything from Topshop that wasn't in the sale - I don't know if that's a testament to my sale shopping skills or cheapness, but anyway. These are decidedly more on the trousers side of leggings, as they're quite thick and ought to be good for the colder weather - I did keep in mind while shopping that I'll be heading 'up north' to uni next year and probably ought to adapt my wardrobe accordingly. Speaking of which I am SO READY for colder weather to come back, I'm sick of wearing shorts and not being able to layer and wear plaid dresses and such.

Jumper, H&M, £5 (sale)

Never mind next year, I actually wore this a few times while I was in the UK as we had some simply awful weather and I'd packed for 25 degrees plus just after getting back from Corfu. I actually have some loose trousers in this exact print from H&M, and while I definitely wouldn't wear them together it would be quite the outfit statement!

Top, H&M, £3 (sale) / Floral Skirt, H&M, £2 (sale)

To be honest these were both a case of 'omg look how cheap it is, lets get it', and for £5 together I don't think I can possible regret buying either of these. I'm fairly sure the skirt is actually the same style as the yellow one and the black and white one from my last clothes haul. 

iPad Case, H&M, £4 (sale)

Having acquired my mum's old iPad all of half an hour beforehand (when she got a new one, which was actually the purpose of this trip), I spotted this case in the sale in H&M and decided it was fate. I do actually quite like it too, although I have set my heart on getting my hands on this 'Lorde art history' one eventually.

Terracotta Top, New Look, £6 (sale) / Top, New Look, £7.99

My final shopping trip was to New Look, where I picked up these two tops. I think they're both quite basic and useful pieces - I especially love the denimy one, but I wish they'd had it in an 8 as the 6 I got is fairly tight but still definitely wearable.

I also got some tights, underwear, plain black leggings etc but to be honest they're not that interesting to look at. This is probably the last of my hauls for the summer - unless my mum decides I need new clothes for uni and treats me - because to be frank I have spent quite enough lately!


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Fashion Fancies: Dolores Haze


Today I have a new instalment in my 'Fashion Fancies' series, in which I take a fictional or historical character and put together some outfits I imagine they would wear. Previously I've created looks for Catherine HowardCathy DollangangerWednesday AddamsMia Thermopolis and Daisy Buchanan, so today I thought I'd do the same for Dolores Haze, aka Lolita in Vladimir Nabokov's novel of the same name. Just to be clear, I decided to call this Dolores's (or Dolly's) wardrobe and not Lolita's because Lolita isn't her real name - it's the nickname given to her by Humbert Humbert, the middle aged scholar lodging in her mother's house who rapidly becomes obsessed with her over the course of the novel. Personally I think the use of the different names are kind of symbolic of how one interprets the story, so I'm sticking with Dolly.

The character of 12-year-old Dolly/Lo/Lolita is fairly well known as the original 'nymphet' type, and has become quite an icon among a certain class of Tumblr users. As a character, Dolly is childish, capricious, stubborn and often petty, but she is also flirtatious and has a strong sense of fun. I don't really want to get too much into my interpretation of the novel because that's a whole different post, so lets move on to the outfits.

1. Queen of Coney Island
This is probably the most girly outfit of the four, but it's made up of a few iconic nymphet items including heart-shaped sunglasses, pink plaid and bardot necklines. I can imagine Dolly wearing this to a party or on some kind of other occasion, given the heels. Although I don't think it's particularly 50s (maybe more modern day?) I think it fits with her character.

2. Darling Carmen
Lolita is set in 1949, and I thought that time period ought to come across somewhere, such as in these school shoes, the adorable dress (which I would totally wear) and the vintage-esque suitcase - very appropriate given much of the novel recounts a road trip. There's definitely an element of glamour in Dolly's life though, so I included some high end type makeup products as well.

3. Sparkle jump rope queen
It's important not to forget that Dolly is 12 years old at the beginning of the novel which makes her still essentially a child. Rollerskates, pinafores, daisy chains and milkshakes are all things I associate with childhood, and perhaps especially being a child in America. Also I love that Wizard of Oz case so much!

4. Scarlet starlet
The whole 1950s starlet vibe has become quite a big part of the Lolita image and I think this outfit represents that pretty well. More plaid, red heart-shaped sunglasses, saddle shoes and red lipstick all work to create the impression of a young child star in mid-twentieth century Hollywood.


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Mega Books & DVDs Haul


I got back from England on Thursday night and I have to say that particular trip back wins the prize for the worst journey of all time (even over the time my whole family had norovirus and spent the drive vomiting into plastic bags) because we were involved in an accident on the motorway. Or to be more precise, a lorry smashed into our car, totally scuppering the passenger door (which I was sitting on the other side of). I was actually asleep at the moment of impact so I woke up to the car lurching, air bags exploding, smoke coming out the air vents and the smell of burning, which was pretty terrifying since I had no idea what had just happened. But thankfully we're all okay (apart from my sprained wrist), even though the car is probably a goner - it really was extraordinarily lucky that it wasn't a whole lot worse!

Anyway, on a slightly more positive note being back from the UK means I have a couple of cracking hauls for you, which I've divided into books & DVDs and clothes & accessories. To be fair I didn't buy everything in this one while I was there, as the first half was an Amazon order I did beforehand and collected from my grandparents' house so as to save on the extortionate postage costs to Belgium. Nevertheless, I'm extremely excited about everything I got!

Valley of the Dolls (1967), The Moth Diaries (2011), The Virgin Suicides (2000)
Shakespeare in Love (1998) / Marie Antoinette (2006) / Vanity Fair (2004)

I'm SO HAPPY to finally get my hands on all these DVDs, there are no words. The first three are all ones where I've read the book and immediately wanted to see the film, especially as stills from The Virgin Suicides in particular are always popping up on my tumblr dash. The Valley of the Dolls film is supposed to be quite bad as a film but I'm still interested to watch it as a fan of the book. And last but not least I originally just wanted to get just Marie Antoinette on its own, but this 3 pack version was actually cheaper so I figured why not indeed.

Rookie Yearbook Two edited by Tavi Gevinson

I loved Rookie Yearbook One with a passion, so I decided to order the next two - sadly the third one wasn't delivered on time (even though it was meant to arrive nearly a week before we left), so I'll probably pick it up next time. I've flicked through this briefly and it is simply BEAUTIFUL, a stunning book well worth the money.

The Goddess Experience by Gisele Scanlon
Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the 90s Regenades Who Remade Fashion by Maureen Callahan
Life with a Sprinkle of Glitter by Louise Pentland

I grouped these together because they're all non-fiction: The Goddess Experience is the 'sequel' to The Goddess Guide, which is a real treasure trove of girly tips and tricks and interesting anecdotes and interviews by the author, all presented in a beautifully formatted little book - I would really recommend it as a gift for any girly girl! Champagne Supernovas I spotted ages ago but waited patiently until it came out in paperback. I've read mixed reviews of it, so I'm reserving judgement for the time being but it looks great. And it was inevitable that I would end up buying Life with a Sprinkle of Glitter, so I decided to throw it in too. I've definitely grown out of YouTube lately, but Louise has always been my favourite YouTuber and I'm honestly interested to see what her book is like and how it compares to Tanya and Fleur's.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
Urban Legends by Helen Grant

These were the only two fiction books that were part of the original Amazon order - I limited myself to just a couple as I'm trying to get through the bulk of the unread ones I already have. These two are both part of a series though (which makes it better somehow): The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is the sixth book in the adorable Flavia de Luce mystery series, and Urban Legends is the final book in the Forbidden Spaces trilogy (which is set in Belgium, yay).

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Then I made the mistake of going into a discount bookshop while I was out shopping and ended up getting these two and the next four books in this haul on a '3 books for £5' deal, which is always my undoing... Murder at the Brightwell is just a murder mystery that caught my eye (something about the 1920s style cover and font?), while from that I can tell Rage Against the Dying is a lot more modern and FBI-esque.

Death of a Cosy Writer by G. M. Malliet
Ten Little Herrings by L. C. Tyler

Another couple of homely mystery/crime stories. I've probably whizz through these but when I get onto a mystery roll I get slightly addicted so I thought I'd stock up.

When in Rome by Nicky Pellegrino
The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien

When in Rome is set in Rome (surprise surprise) in the 1950s, and it really reminded me of Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani, which is set in a similar period in New York but is about an Italian family. It's a book I really enjoyed so I thought this wasn't too bad a choice to bring my small stack of books up to 6 in order to get them for £10. The King's Sister is about Elizabeth of Lancaster, and in actual fact isn't technically Tudor fiction, if anything it's Lancastrian-Plantagenet fiction (if that's a thing).

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Finally, these two were bought for me by my mum who was feeling generous in WH Smith's (thanks mum!). The Secret History was recommended for me on Goodreads because I loved Special Topics in Calamity Physics, so I'd been meaning to buy this for a while. I actually already have an unread copy of Rebecca that I bought secondhand off Amazon, but I was unlucky with the copy I got as it's quite frankly disgusting to the point where I'd rather not touch it. This one, however, is really beautiful!

The clothes & accessories part of this haul will be coming soon!