Monday, 27 February 2017

Read & Reviewed #4

I'm back again reviewing the books I've read recently, my Read & Reviewed #4! I loved both the books included in this post and so I'm really excited to share them with you. Keep reading to find out what I thought of these two books - no spoilers included!

Small Great Things - by Jodi Picoult: 5/5

Ruth Jefferson is a labour and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Small Great Things has to be one of the best books I've ever read and it deals with the subject of race and prejudice at the worst level in modern day America. If you've read my other 'Read & Reviewed' posts then you know I've read a lot of books by Jodi Picoult; I feel this is the book that has hit me hardest. It was very well written, gripping and easy to follow the alternating points of view from the very well-developed characters. I can tell how much research went into this book. There is a life lesson in every book she writes; I  learnt so much from the moment I started reading the book, it has been on my mind ever since. I think Small Great Things is an important book and I highly recommend it.

The Missing - by C.L. Taylor: 4/5

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, is distraught, blaming herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family who doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that isn't until six months later, when an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the terrifying truth begins to surface. Claire is sure of two things: Billy is still alive and her family has nothing to do with his disappearance.

The Missing is more than just a thriller about the search for a missing teenager. The book really examines how much we don't know about what goes through the minds of our children in the digital age and the fact that everyone has their secrets, big or small. It was a fast paced thriller (even when not much was happening as you kept finding out more about the disappearance). It was also well plotted and kept me gripped until the ending. The best part was how believable the story was, the characters could have been real people and nothing seemed far-fetched; it was one of the few thrillers that I really didn't see the ending coming.

I hope that you've enjoyed seeing what I've recently finished reading; even found a new book or two to get stuck into! What have you recently read? Thanks for reading,

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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Recipe | Lush's Unicorn Horn Inspired Bark

If you didn't know by now, I am a huge fan of both Lush products and baking. Recently I've been sad that Lush's Valentine's Day range will soon be leaving the stores, so I thought I would find a way to combine my two favourite things! My favourite from the range is the Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar, so I decided to make an edible version of Unicorn Bark; they're super adorable so keep reading to find out how I made these.

  • 1oz various candy melts in a variety of colours (e.g. 4 to 6 colours)
  • Various Sprinkles and Candy Pearls of your choice
  1. Start by melting each colour candy melt in its own bowl, use as many colours as you would like, but I suggest anywhere between 4 and 6
  2. Cover a baking tray with parchment, cling film or tin foil (so that your bark won't stick to the tray when freezing) 
  3. Then dot each colour candy melt on your tray (like a collage) filling the middle of the tray
  4. Using a spatula, swirl the colours together so that they fill your baking tray
  5. Top with sprinkles, sparkles, marshmallows and candy pearls of your choice
  6. Put into your freezer for an hour or leave to set at room temperature for a few hours
  7. Break your Unicorn bark into smaller rough shaped pieces, and enjoy!
Let me know if you decide to try this recipe, you really won't be disappointed by their cuteness! I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did; thanks for reading,

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Birthday Wish List

Happy Sunday! In less than two weeks I will be turning 20 (March 1st if you're interested!), which is definitely an odd feeling as I'll no longer be a teenager! This year's birthday will be a quiet one, I'm at dance school during the week so will be waiting till the weekend to celebrate with my family! 

I love reading what other people are hoping to get for their birthday; so I thought I'd share the few beauty and lifestyle bits I've had my eye on for ages! However, money is tight, so consider this a fantasy wish list! Thanks for reading,

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Homemade Afternoon Tea

Recently it was my Mum's birthday, and we wanted to celebrate the occasion with an Afternoon Tea. We debated for ages about where we wanted to go, but could not decide on anywhere. Therefore, to make the occasion even more special, I thought I'd make my own version of Afternoon Tea for her, my sister and I; including all her favourites!

We started out our Afternoon Tea with the sandwiches; I had made: Salmon & Cream Cheese, Ham & Cheese, Chicken Tikka and just Cheese.  My sister had made some Apple and Fudge Scones which we served with Cream and the cutest little jar of Jam.

For the treats I went full out, as my family and I definitely have a bit of a sweet tooth...! I made: Brownies, Macaroons, Cupcakes and Chocolate-covered Strawberries topped with Sprinkles and Popping Candy! We washed all that down with a lovely pot of English Breakfast tea.

I think that making your own Afternoon Tea is such a cute idea and would be great on a rainy day, or if you just want to treat you and your family/friends. It was such a fun afternoon, and I will definitely be making this again for the next occasion! Have you ever had your own Afternoon Tea? Thank you for reading,

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Read & Reviewed #3

I'm back again to talk about books; this time with my third Read and Reviewed! I've been reading so much recently, especially in January when I managed to read 11 books (how on earth did that happen!). Keep reading to find out what I thought of these 4 books - no spoilers included!

I Let You Go - by Clare Mackintosh: 4/5

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows, to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life for ever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating...

Although I found the first hundred pages or so were a bit slow, overall this was a very compelling, clever and thrilling book. It was full of incredibly well-crafted twists; including one of the best "I never saw it coming" twists I can remember reading, so make sure you stick with it. I never saw the big twist coming, and I even had to re-read the paragraph a few times to make sure I had read it right! This was an extremely impressive debut novel and I highly recommend it.

Harvesting The Heart - by Jodi Picoult: 3/5

Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who abandoned her when she was five. Now, having left home and her father for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, Paige finds herself with a child of her own. Emotionally and physically exhausted, overwhelmed by the demands of her family, Paige cannot forget her mother's absence or the shameful memories from her own past. With doubts about her maternal ability creeping into her mind, Paige considers the unthinkable: is it possible her baby would be better of without her?

I am a big Jodi Picoult fan, but this one wasn't my favourite. I just didn't like or dislike it and I think it might be because I didn't fall in love with the characters like I normally do with her books. It felt a little bit long-winded and a little predictable so I would recommend reading her other books over this one.

Second Glance - by Jodi Picoult: 3.5/5

From the moment Ross's fiancée Aimee was killed in a car accident, he's been trying to die too. But life won't let him go. His only hope now is that Aimee will come to him. So when he hears of strange happenings at an ancient Indian burial ground near his sister's home, he heads to Comtosook - desperate for the rumours of a haunting to be true. What he finds there is not Aimee's ghost, but Lia, a very real woman whose life is filled with as many troubled secrets as his own...

A story abut ghosts and in true Jodi Picoult style, the situation isn't how it initially seems. This book introduces lots of characters to get your head around at the beginning, but once you know who's who then I found that I really enjoyed this book.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them - by J.K. Rowling

Explorer and Magizoologist Newt Scamander has just completed a round-the-globe trip in search of the most rare and unusual magical creatures. Arriving in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when Newt's case is misplaced and some of his fantastic beasts escape into the city, it spells trouble for everyone...

I'm really sad to say this, being a big Harry Potter fan, but I didn't like this screenplay or its movie that much. I found it to be quite predictable, a bit exaggerated and only published for commercial gain. However, I did like the design of the book; it looks great next to the Harry Potter series.

I hope that you've enjoyed seeing what I've recently finished reading; even found a new book or two to get stuck into! What have you recently read? Thanks for reading,

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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Valentine's Day | Choc Chip Shortbread Hearts

As Valentine's day is next week, I thought I'd share with you a recipe for these chocolate chip shortbread hearts. They would make a perfectly cute and tasty present for your other half or just to share as a treat. This recipe makes 18 hearts; carry on reading to find out how to make them!

For the shortbread hearts:
  • 250g Plain flour
  • 75g Caster sugar
  • 175g Butter
  • 150g Chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
For the icing:
  • 340g Icing Sugar
  • 16g Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Water
  • Optional - A few drops of Food colouring
  • Decorations to top your shortbread hearts
For the shortbread hearts:
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  2. Add your flour and sugar to a bowl and mix together
  3. Add the butter and work together using your hands, until your mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs
  4. Add in your chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and use your hands to form your mixture into a dough
  5. Sprinkle your table-top with flour and roll out your dough until it's roughly 1cm thick
  6. Use your heart shaped cutter to cut out your shortbread hearts and add onto the baking tray. Make sure you leave space between each cookie as they will expand in the oven
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes in the oven or until they are golden brown
  8. Take out the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
For the icing:
  1. Once the shortbread hearts are cool, add your icing sugar, butter and water in a bowl and mix together until smooth
  2. Add a few drops of your food colouring into the icing, until it has reached your desired colour
  3. Add the icing to your shortbread hearts and decorate how you wish
I hope you enjoyed making these adorable chocolate chip shortbread hearts that taste as good as they look, if I must say so myself! Let me know if you've made these heart shaped goodies and tweet me a picture (@justamarablog) or link me another way to see your creations! Thanks for reading,

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Review | Mac Blankety Lipstick

Hi there, I'm here to share another gem from MAC's permanent line. For a while I've been looking for another great nude lipstick, as I feel myself reaching for Velvet Teddy way too often. Therefore, as I recently went shopping at Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, I quickly found myself browsing the Mac Lipsticks. 

Of course I couldn't resist purchasing at least one, and my one of choice this time was Blankety. Blankety is a neutral and fairly subtle pinky beige colour, which is the perfect nude for everyday wear.

My favourite thing about the lipstick is its "Amplified" formula which is soft and creamy which makes it very easy to apply and I like how it feels on my lips. It glides on super easily without migrating or feathering, and its great at keeping my lips moisturised. I really hate wearing lipsticks that dry my lips out. I've also found that its long lasting and I rarely have to top it up, except sometimes after I eat. 

What do you think of Blankety? It's Gorgeous and subtle enough to wear every day, or with a darker lipliner (such as Spice from MAC) to make it a more evening look. I'm really glad I took a chance on it, as I can see myself wearing it a lot and is definitely a must-have nude from MAC!

What's your favourite lipstick from Mac? Thank you for reading,

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Good Things From January

How quickly has the first month of 2017 gone?! I literally feel like I've blinked and January is already over! It feels really bizarre to think how quickly I'm already settled back into the routine of dance school with Christmas and 2016 seeming to be a distant memory. January, however brisk, has been a good month and I'm excited to share with you the good things I've found in this month.

Saw my 1st Show of 2017

Right at the beginning of this year, my friend Georgia and I travelled into London to see Half a Sixpence at the Noël Coward theatre. I had a great day, the songs were so catchy, and it was so great to see a musical I had previously known nothing about; it was a perfect treat to begin 2017 in the right way!

It Snowed!

Even though I really feel the cold 99% of the time, I love when it snows. I'm a huge fan of sitting inside watching the snowflakes fall, in my pyjamas with a nice big mug of tea! It made me incredibly happy this month to finally see snow again; it has been years since it last snowed. It's just a shame we didn't get the perfect White Christmas instead.

Attended a Bloggers Event

I was lucky enough to be invited to Wyboston Lakes to attend a bloggers event at their Spa. I had the most relaxing day (probably the most blissful day of my life) with great people enjoying everything that Y Spa had to offer. You can read more about my experience here...

Enjoyed using Lush Christmas Products

Lush's Christmas products definitely have to be my favourite range they bring out; I find myself eagerly awaiting winter to see which of my favourites are back, as well as which new products have been released. If you read my last 'Good Things' post (from December) you will know that due to work I didn't manage to make myself to the store until the 30th; luckily for me there were still products to buy. I have thoroughly enjoyed using up all of my purchases and now I just have to wait till the end of the year to stock up again...!

I hope you enjoyed reading my 'Good Things' post; I really love doing these posts, as I feel like it makes me realise how many good things happen during the month that I otherwise may have taken for granted. What good things happened to you in January? Thank you for reading,

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