20 May 2015

How to Create a Cosy Reading Nook

A lot of people who love reading can do it anywhere and everywhere. But the best place to curl up with a good book is in a quiet corner. Unfortunately, you can't always find somewhere peaceful enough, especially if you live in a busy house. If you need somewhere you can hide away whenever you need to immerse yourself in a story, you can create a cosy space for yourself. Even if you don't have much room to claim as your own, you can set up somewhere quiet just about anywhere you can think of. Start putting together your reading nook with these suggestions.


Find a Quiet Space

The first thing you need to do is find somewhere that you can use. Sometimes there's a perfect place, like a window seat or a cosy corner. But you might find that you have to carve out a space for yourself, whether it's in a small alcove or just an empty space in a room. If you don't want anyone to disturb you, don't choose a high-traffic area where your family or housemates will always be walking past. If you can't find anywhere that's naturally separated from the rest of the room, you could section off a space with a privacy screen or curtain.

Choose Your Lighting

Lighting is critical when you want to get stuck into a book. Soft lights make everything relaxing and peaceful, but you don't want it to be so dim that you have to squint at your book. You might choose to sit by a window so there's plenty of natural light during the day. But in the evening you'll need some help from a lamp or two if the overhead lighting isn't enough. You could decorate with fairy lights, which would help you to see too. It helps if there aren't too many wires to deal with, so think about some battery-powered LEDs.

Get Comfy

You don't want your reading nook to be uncomfortable. Most book lovers will read in any position, whether it's curled in a ball or hanging upside down. Make sure you're super comfortable by picking the right seating and adding some cosy accessories. You might not have much room, so if there's no space for a squishy sofa or armchair, try a beanbag. Otherwise, make a hard dining chair more comfortable with some cushions. It's also a good idea to have something to keep you warm, like the Aran wool throws from AranSweatersDirect. Any time it's cold you can snuggle up with a blanket and dive into your book.


Find Somewhere for Your Books

You don't have to keep your books close by, but it's helpful if you don't have to leave your sanctuary to get a new one. Even if you don't keep your entire collection in your reading corner, you can have one shelf that has some favourites or your current reads on it. You could also hang a storage pouch from the wall to slip your books inside without taking up any room.

Every avid reader needs somewhere they can enjoy their books without being disturbed. Make sure you have your space by creating one today.

6 May 2015

BEAUTY HAUL: Exclusive Superdrug Product Reviews

Last week I was lucky enough to receive a large hamper of goodies from Superdrug. You can broadly split the products into three categories: footcare, weightloss and sexual health so there's quite a large range of stuff here. The box contained products from LighterLife, Silverline Skin Beauty, Scholl, Freeman Barefoot and Smile Makers. 

 My thoughts... 

LightLife Fast 

LighterLife Fast is a diet plan whereby you eat normally on 5 days of week but on the other two days you eat either meal replacement bars, nutrition shakes, soups or prepared meals. I'm not on the LighterLife Fast plan myself as I'm far too active to be able to get enough calories from these products alone, but I'm sure that for those who are cooped up in an office all day or afraid of the gym will find these sorts of products useful. The meal replacement bars come in several different flavours and I tried the chocolate peanut bar. Taste-wise, I have to say it doesn't differ wildly from any other cereal bar so they definitely haven't sacrificed taste to make this product. This bar is high in protein, high in fibre and packed with 22 vitamins and minerals so eating these bars on two fast days a week shouldn't mean that you're deficient in anything your body needs. Each bar contains around 214 calories, which actually isn't than much higher than lots of chocolate bars on the market. It's definitely got less calories than a snicker bar but it has a very similar taste and is packed with much better ingredients. I don't plan on going on the LighterLife Fast plan anytime soon, but I will be considering eating this a snack between meals instead of my usual sugary treats. 

4 Nutritous Banana flavour shakes RRP £8.49 (click here to buy)
Meal replacement bar RRP £2.49 (click here to buy) 
Silver Line Skin Beauty 

Silver Line Complete Skin Beauty capsules are wheat germ and argan oils plus collagen and vitamin C with added zinc which contribues to the maintenance of normal skin. You are supposed to take three capsules a day and the days are clearly labelled on the packet which is incredibly helpful. I can't say whether there's been any improvement in my skin so far as I have only been taking the capsules for a few days, but I'll be posting an update at the end of the month. The capsules are quite small and easy to swallow unlike many other food supplements I've tried so that's a bonus. 

RRP £14.99 (click here to buy)

Detox smoothie: All-in-one Superfood Smoothie
I am a huge fan of smoothies, drinking them pretty much everyday so I was very excited to try this superfood smoothie. I was slightly worried that it wouldn't taste very good because of the long (long) list of healthy ingredients but I actually quite enjoyed it. It comes in a large packet which contains 1 dose of smoothie powder. All you have to do is mix it with 150-200ml of water, shake it up a bit and it's ready to drink! Lots of these powder-based products are very lumpy and need a blender to really get the water and powder to a smooth consistency but all this took was a few shakes in my mixing. I have to admit, I thought the powder smelled pretty gross when I first opened the packet. It smelled very 'green', but not in a
particularly positive way. Once I added the water, the smell remained the same, but thankfully it tastes a lot better than it smells. There are so many different superfood flavours in here that it's difficult to describe the taste of the drink. The mint flavour was the only really distinguishable taste but it also contains: pineapple, banana, apple, orange, barley grass, spiruline, spinach, rice protein, hemp protein, psyllium, basil, mint, ginger, birch leaf, nettle lead and chorella. Phew. Just a 'few' ingredients. It's quite a refreshing drink to have in the morning alongside your breakfast and it gives you a bit of an energy kick to start the day. 

RRP £1.99 (click here to buy)

Scholl Express Pedi Deluxe and barefoot Foot Soak and Scrub
Recently I noticed that quite a lot of hard skin has built up on the bottom of my feet, which nobody wants. I've never really believed in pedicure products such as this but having tried it out, I must say I am impressed. This set comes with an electronic foot file and velvet smooth serum. The foot file only needs 2 AA batteries to work and they come with the set (handy!). This product is pretty self-explanatory and very easy to use. You twist the silver band around the handle to turn the product on and then run the file along the bottom of your foot, targeting any areas of hard skin. After just a few minutes of filing, the bottom of my foot was significantly softer and you can see the difference the file is making as a lot of 'dust' is generated from the filing (perhaps do this over a towel or large bowl). 

Both the foot soak and foot scrub are a peppermint and plum flavoured and they smell amazing. The foot scrub feels a little weird to apply, but that's probably because I have fairly ticklish feet. The scrub doesn't really remove any hard skin, but it does make the skin significantly softer. The foot soak does a similar job but the softness doesn't last quite as long as it does after using the scrub. All in all these two products are perfect to use after the Scholl pedicure set and my feet are so much softer and nicer now. I will definitely be doing this pedicure routine on a weekly basis at least as the effects are immediately noticeable and it's quite a relaxing process too.  

RRP £44.99 (click here to buy)

Smile Makers: The Fireman

Yes, this is a vibrator and yes it is a far cry from what I usually review but change is good... right? I have to admit that I have owned several vicbrators over the years (mostly because my friends think its funny to give sex toys as presents), and this is the most unique that I have seen on the market. Shaped like a flame, the Fireman is a silicone clitoral vibrator featuring an 'intense nose, exhilarating tip and 'soft flames' for extra sensation'. It's very simple to use, requiring only one AAA battery to get it going (or rather, get you going). You can use it in the shower or the bathtub as it's completely waterproof and cleaning it is also very easy. It comes with 5 different settings, four different intensities and one pulsing function. It's not the most powerful I've seen, but give it time and it's enough. 

RRP £34.99 (click here to buy)

Thank you to Superdrug, Cow PR and Kerry for sending me this hamper of goodies! 

p.s. Will be posting some book and film reviews soon! 

28 April 2015

Arla Skyr Breakfast Event

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a breakfast hosted by Arla Skyr and Cow PR. I was given a delicious complimentary breakfast, including some Arla Skyr yoghurt to try, followed by a talk by nutrionalist Charlotte Stirling-Reed and then a mini tour of Soho by Peter Berthoud, organised by the Londonist. Even though I've lived in London for my entire life, I'd never seen any of the places that our tour guide showed us, which just goes to show what a vibrant and exciting place London is! We saw the "Toilet Pod" Museum, Phoenix Garden, which is so, so beautiful and calm, and the "true" geographical centre of London just to name a few!

That's me in the middle, looking a little too happy?
Yet another photo of me taking pictures of my food #asian
So back to the the yoghurt...

What is it?
Arlr Skyr is an Icelandic-style yoghurt that is high in protein, low in fat and reduced in sugar. What's more, it's all natural!

What flavours does it come in?
The big pots come in three different flavours: natural, strawberry and honey. The smaller pots come in: natural, Nordic Mixed Berry, Nordic Sour Cherry and Apple & Lingonberry and Strawberry.

How does it taste? 
I tried the honey yoghurt, the strawberry yoghurt and the natural yoghurt at the Arla Skyr breakfast and had very mixed views on them. The honey yoghurt is incredibly sweet and for some reason was mixed with even more honey which was a little overwhelming. I tasted the honey yoghurt by itself and still found it to be too sweet for my liking, but for those think that natural Greek yoghurt is too plain, this may be ideal for you.

The natural yoghurt is very plain and has a similar taste to Greek yoghurt, but the consistency is less thick. It doesn't taste bad, but it is very bland if you eat it by itself so I would highly recommend adding some toppings or some honey to make it more interesting. I had a pot of natural yoghurt for breakfast the other day and I added some granola, raspberries and agave nectar, which made for a really good combo (see right).

The strawberry yoghurt is definitely my favourite as it is quite sweet (but not too sweet) and full of flavour. This one tastes great by itself, but it also tastes good with a topping of fruit compote and some mixed nuts as you can see below.

What's the best way to eat it? 

You can have this yoghurt by itself or with some berry compote and granola as I detailed above, but if you're not a big breakfast or snack fan then there's lots of other ways that you can incorporate natural yoghurt into your diet. I usually add 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt to my smoothies/protein shakes, which thickens them and, if using the natural flavour, blends the flavour. You can also put it in your cooking, adding it to salads, eating it with ryvita, marinating chicken in a yoghurt sauce - the possibilities are endless.

Where can you buy it?
Arla Skyr is currently stocked in Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda in the UK.

Arla Skyr's breakfast is honestly one of the best PR events that I've ever been to, but it this wasn't because of anything flashy or loads of freebies, but because their product is genuinely very, very good. Their products are tasty and keep me full throughout the afternoon, which is when I tend to slump and there's just so many different things you can do with them. The strawberry flavour is my favourite if you're going to be eating the yoghurt by itself but the combination I prefer the most is the natural yoghurt with fresh fruit and granola. The small pots are just the right size - slightly bigger than a normal yoghurt pot but this ensures that it fills you up. All the flavours are low in calories so I never feel guilty when indulging in these, so your conscience can remain clear!

If you're interested in Arla Skyr, check out my review of one their other products I'd recommend, Arla Protein (click here).

All my goodies from the event :) 
An amazing and healthy breakfast
Advice from nutritionalist Charlotte
Soho Square
Book Mews

13 April 2015


Not a book or a film review this time, but something completely different! I recently took part in a campaign to try this new product, Arla Protein, a yoghurt that comes in a variety of flavours with 20g of protein per pot! 

I go to the gym regularly, pretty much everyday of the week, and recently I've started drinking protein shakes after my workouts to help repair my muscles etc. The problem is that the great tasting protein shakes, such as those sold by Protein World, are expensive and this is where Arla really helped me. I'm a student so money is always tight. I find it really hard to be healthy and keep my fitness on track whilst keeping a tight budget so it's great that in one pot of Arla protein you get 20g of protein for really low price. What's more, it's available in Tesco so you can make it part of your weekly shop instead of ordering it in. 

Taste-wise, I was afraid that it would be obvious this was a product stuffed with protein, but surprisingly it pretty much tastes like any normal yoghurt. I tried the raspberry flavour yoghurt and it was really full of flavours, though quite a bit thicker than normal yoghurt. It wasn't really runny but I happen to like my yoghurt like that and I would say the consistency is similar to that of Greek yoghurt. Even though it's fat free, it's still fairly sweet and tasty, unlike many other fat-free yoghurts I have tried, so that's a huge plus. 

The pot is really rather large, possibly slightly too large, but I found that I was completely full and satisfied after this pot of yoghurt and it was enough to keep me going until dinner.  It took me quite a while to get through the pot and I was spooning it into my mouth whilst absent mindedly reading a magazine. I'm not sure I'd be able to just sit down and eat a whole pot of this as it is larger than the average yoghurt pot. The fact that you have to eat it slowly also helps you stay fuller for longer, which is an added bonus. 

I can't say whether or not the Arla Protein helped me in my fitness goals really as there are so many other factors to consider in my diet and workout, which were constantly changing, but I can safely say that this is a tasty post-workout snack that keeps you feeling full for a long time. Given that it's fat free (yes, completely fat free), I assume that there's very little chance of weight gain, or of this product being detrimental to those trying to keep the calories down. I must say that the amount of protein gained from such a small pot is simply extraordinary. 

Prior to this campaign I probably wouldn't have bothered with such a product, but now I think that I will be buying Arla more regularly and having it after my workout instead of a post-workout protein shake as it's a lot cheaper, quicker and easier. All in all, this is a must have product for regular gym bunnies who need something to refuel after a tough workout. 

Available in Tescos, £1.25 per pot.

*I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 

12 April 2015

BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY! Win up to £20/$30 worth of books from The Book Depository

It's my 20th birthday in a week so I'm holding a giveaway to celebrate! Win up to £20/$30 worth of books (of your choice) from the book depository! Celebrating alone is no fun so I want to give one reader the chance to win a bundle of books to share the joy. I'm leaving my teen years behind (wah), but I'm still going to be reading lots of YA and 'teen' novels. I'm sorry I haven't been posting as much lately. I've been very busy with university work and the student paper over the past few months so reading and reviewing is proving to be difficult. Despite this, What's Hot? is still running and hopefully I'll have some new posts up over the next few weeks. 

Enter via Rafflecopter below. 

Bonne chance! 

9 April 2015

Dazzle Ship London - An exciting new tourist attraction!

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event upon the HMS President in London to celebrate the launch of a new commission by artist Tobias Rehberger. As part of 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme to commemorate the centenary of World War One. 

What is dazzle paint? 
'Dazzle' paint is a method used extensively during WW1 to help camouflage ships coming into the UK, making it difficult for the enemy to target the ship accurately. Obviously it's pretty much impossible to hide a ship completely so instead dazzle paint was used to confused the enemy so that they couldn't figure out what course the ship was travelling on. The 'dazzle' effect was achieved by painting contrasting curves and lines on the ship to break up its shape and outline.     

What's this got to do with the HMS President?
The HMS President was the first type of warship built specifically for anti-submarine warfare and was originally camouflaged by dazzle paint in the same way. To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, 14-18 NOW have teamed up with Chelsea College of Art and Design and Liverpool Biennel in association with HMS President and Tate Liverpool to create some works inspired by 'dazzle' paint. They enlisted the help of leading German artist Tobias to help them decorate the HMS President in London. He created a design that reveals the interior of the ship on the outside of it. His design was printed onto vinyl and then carefully stuck onto the ship. This has been incredibly well done as unless if you look very, very closely at the boat do you realise that the ship itself hasn't been painted. 

Why visit? 

Firstly, because it's pretty damn cool! Even if you don't go aboard the ship, you simply must make time to take a stroll down Victoria Embankment to check out the exterior of the boat. It's located pretty much opposite Temple station and from this point you can see loads of London landmarks such as The London Eye, the OXO Tower, Big Ben etc. 

What is there to do on board? 
I was lucky enough to get a tour of the ship and it's a pretty damn cool space. You can hire it out for events such as weddings, birthdays etc. as they're a large function room that is beautifully decorated and it even leads out onto a piece of decking from which there are absolutely spectacular views (see right). You can get afternoon tea, you can hire out a meeting room for your business, you can rent an office - whether it's work or play, you can find what you're looking for on the HMS President. As of yesterday they also opened a river bar (the grand opening is tomorrow if you're in London), which is pretty cool. I had a drink on board when I visited and the setting is just so nice, perfect for catch up drinks or a date.  

Are there any similar boats out there?
Yes, yes there are! 14-18 NOW have commissioned two other dazzle paint exhibitions in Liverpool, both of which are considerably more colourful than the one we have in London. Check 'em out: 

Final thoughts?
All in all, this is a pretty cool attraction in London that had completely passed me by until now. This ship makes for a perfect place to either work or relax. During the day time this would make for a different and professional working space, but at night this venue has the potential to make a really special evening. The dazzle paint exterior is just a bonus ontop of all of this. This new design will be around for a while, but I wouldn't waste any time getting down to London to check it out. 

Want to find out more? 
Click here to find out more about this dazzle paint exhibition. 
Click here to find out more about what the HMS President has to offer. 
Follow them on Twitter @HMSPresident

23 February 2015

TV REVIEW: Reasons not to watch Made in Chelsea

Made in Chelsea: London’s answer to The Hills and the ‘classier’ version of The Only Way is Essex. We were all taken in by the glitz and the glam of London’s ‘elite’ when the show first debuted back in 2011, but the question is, why are we still watching it? The show is infamous for its ridiculously long awkward silences that make it glaringly obvious that the show is scripted and that the cast are terrible at acting. But we still come back for more. 

Essentially, MIC follows the lives of an affluent bunch of young twenty-somethings who seem to lay idle for most of the day, talking about relationships and bitching about each other. Most of them met at school (the likes of Harrow, Eton, Radley, Downe House etc.) and it’s very much of a case of everyone knows everyone. The general vibe of the show has slipped into the realm of we’re-doing-absolutely-nothing-but-at-least-we-look-pretty-doing-it, but given that heartthrobs Spencer Matthews and Jamie Laing are heirs to the Eton Rock Hotel and McVitie’s respectively, I guess these guys don’t need jobs. 

This is the sort of show that advertises the name of each and every bar or restaurant at the bottom of the screen with each scene change, but as each new season has aired, this feature seems to have become more and more obnoxious. They also seem to have forgotten that there are other places to hang out in London that aren’t Bluebird in Mayfair. What’s worse is that numerous tour companies have taken advantage of this and for a mere £20 you can even go on a Made in Chelsea Walking Tour around London’s SW3. Bargain. Another company is advertising a tour that begins in Sloane Square and ends up in, you guessed it, Bluebird. 

There are numerous completely unnecessary characters that aren’t part of the core friendship group on the show, and are hated by everyone. They seem to be quite obnoxious and yet are still on screen each week. Why hasn’t Victoria hit the road yet? She serves no purpose except to bitch about everyone and everything – but we get plenty of that from the rest of the cast anyway. Victoria’s only friend on the show, Mark Francis, is equally useless but a thousand times funnier so I’ll forgive his continued presence. He’s the sort of guy who, when asked what sort of book he’d be, replies “Well, I’d probably be the Bible”. Modest, as ever. 

There was even the spin-off, MIC: NYC, where the gang headed off to New York for a season in which absolutely nothing changed. Series 7 was the first series of Made in Chelsea to average over 1 million viewers for each episode whereas spin-off series NYC had a series average of over 1 million viewers, which just goes to show that MIC is heading downhill. What is frustrating is that, this show was actually good at one point. It’s even won a BAFTA. Gone are the days of the Caggie and Spencer drama when the show was still vaguely based on reality (even if it had been filmed for the 6th time that afternoon). Now, everyone’s dated everyone, everyone’s cheated on everyone and everyone’s broken up with everyone. The cast of MIC is possibly the most incestuous bunch of friends that television has ever seen and there’s no sign of them stopping anytime soon. 

I’m not going to pretend like I still don’t love the show, but I kind of hate myself for it. I know that it’s all complete and utter rubbish and yet I still find myself tuning in to E4 on Monday nights to catch the latest episode. Not only that but I follow the more interesting characters on Instagram anwd Twitter because my weekly one hour fix just isn’t enough. This needs to stop. It’s all just one big PR stunt and we need to stop buying into it. Imperial students see MIC characters walking around South Kensington all the time. If you live in London, you probably know someone that knows someone that knows a member of the cast. These people don’t lead lives that are nearly as extraordinary as television makes them out to be so we should stop treating them like celebrities and accept that they are actually normal people who just happen to have a lot of money. 

 Series 9 airs on the 9th April 2015.
My reaction to most of the show

15 February 2015

FILM REVIEW: Fifty Shades is more sadistic than sexy


Given the hype and anticipation surrounding the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey film, I was surprised to find myself in a near-empty cinema screen on the date of its release. This is particularly perplexing given that according to the ticket-selling site Fandango, Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling R-rated title in the site's history. Perhaps we’re a little more prudish here in Britain than audiences in the States. It's also rather embarrassing on the part of British cinemas given that most of them had between seven and fifteen screenings of the film scheduled per day in the opening weekend. #awks

Fifty Shades of Grey follows the relationship between Christian Grey, a young and sexy eligible bachelor, and Anastasia Steele, a shy and rather plain girl. They are instantly attracted to each other, however Mr Grey has a darker side, one that he'd like Ana to be a part of if she'd only sign his contract. (Yes, a sex contract). As the man himself says, Grey's "tastes are singular". Translation: he's massive control freak who is really into BDSM so when the Anastasia, innocent and virginal, stumbles into his office one day, he can't help but try to get into her into his Red Room of pleasure (or is it pain?)

This film is full of cliché after cliché and I honestly could not believe how predictable some lines were. I laughed out loud on several occasions because I was utterly astounded by the shoddy script. It's difficult to say whose fault this is, however, as the dialogue in the book is much the same. The film is much more creative than its paperback counterpart but the dialogue is still laughable.

Dakota Johnson plays the shy and innocent Anastasia Steele but I don’t think I’ve ever been more irritated by the protagonist of a film in my life. That said, the Anastasia Steele from the books is similarly irritating, so perhaps Johnson actually deserves a round of applause for being able to translate that irritability onto the big screen. Her co-star, Jamie Dornan, most definitely fits the bill physically for the role of Christian Grey. However, no matter how devastatingly  mysterious and handsome he is, there was just no way that Dornan could make the dialogue sexy, rather than absurd.

One of the biggest issues this film has had to face is how to take E.L. James’ erotic novel and put it on the screen in a way that stays true to the novel, without being too pornographic. Unsurpsingly, the producers failed miserably. There's not enough sex to excite fans of the books but there's too much nudity for the average cinema-goer. This film is advertised as having a whole twenty minutes of on-screen sex in it, but I have to say that thinking back, I can’t really remember there being that all that much of it. What I do remember, however, is that the sex scenes were incredibly repetitive and escalated quite rapidly away from the realms of a little BDSM to borderline torture. Not sexy. What's worse is that Anastasia questions Mr Grey’s twisted nature on several occasions but still does not cut ties with him. We're presented with a story about a woman who knows that her ‘boyfriend’, if we can call him that, is deeply troubled and likely to hurt her and yet she does nothing and continues to obey him. No wonder Cuntry Living has gone crazy.

There was one moment where I definitely saw way too much of the general pubic region of both protagonists but (thankfully) these moments were fleeting. There is a fair bit of nudity in this film, which is to be expected, however the ratio of female to male nudity is incredibly unbalanced. There’s just so much boob. Dornan is topless in many scenes but he's got nothing on Johnson who probably spends more of the film completely naked than she does clothed so it's not surprising that feminist viewers are outraged. 

Whilst the sex scenes leave something to be desired, what is incredibly sexy is the soundtrack. Most aspects of this film fail to live up to expectations, but the soundtrack most certainly does not. Featuring songs from Ellie Goulding, The Weekend, Sia, The Rolling Stones, and, of course, Beyoncé it's not altogether surprising that the soundtrack has received generally favourable reviews from critics.

All in all, Fifty Shades of Grey is a substandard film that breaks the bounds of what is acceptable a few too many times. The book did not strike me to be quite as sadistic or anti-feminist as the film is, but when blown up on the big screen, Christian Grey comes across, not as a sexy bachelor, but as a twisted man who derives pleasure from another’s pain. That said, the film is probably still better than the book, but that's not saying much. Let's face it, who wouldn't rather watch two attractive actors get hot and heavy on screen than read E.L. James' pathetic attempt at erotica in a book?

*This review was first published on The Oxford Student

Don't forget to enter my Valentine's Day giveaway to win a selection of books up to the value of £20/$30 (INT). Enter via rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

9 February 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Losing It by Helen Lederer

Title: Losing It
Author: Helen Lederer
Genre: Comedy
Publisher: Pan Books UK
Publication Date: 12th February 2015
Goodreads Summary: Millie was at one time quite well known for various TV and radio appearances. However, she now has no money, a best friend with a better sex life than her, a daughter in Papua New Guinea and too much weight in places she really doesn't want it.

When she's asked to be the front woman for a new diet pill, she naively believes that all her troubles will be solved. She will have money, the weight will be gone, and maybe she'll get more sex.

If only life was really that easy. It doesn't take her long to realize it's going to take more than a diet pill to solve her never-ending woes...

[ Review ] 

Losing It by Helen Lederer is the comic tale of a middle-aged Z lister, Millie. She was once a celebrity of sorts but those days are gone and she is now in debt, divorced and desperate. Just as things are starting to look really bleak for Millie, a fantastic opportunity comes her way, giving her that chance to finally sort her life out. She is offered £20,000 to lose weight. Seems like a pretty good deal right? The problem is, Millie has absolutely no willpower and cutting down on the amount she eats proves to be pretty difficult for her. But no weight loss, no money. After an eye opening trip to Papua New Guinea to visit her daughter, Millie truly begins her weight loss journey. It's full of ups and downs (mostly downs), but will she pull it together and meet her weight loss target and get the money she so desperately needs?

Losing It reminds me a lot of Bridget Jones. She's just a little bit (*very) tragic and I think every woman will be able to see a bit of themselves in Millie. She's desperate, single, and she can't keep her hands out of the fridge. We relate to her because she's human. Maintaining a household, keeping a steady relationship, having a successful career and staying fit and healthy are all difficult things to do individually, let alone all at once, which is what a lot of women are expected to do these days. Millie fails and fails again, but she doesn't stop trying so you find yourself rooting for Millie, willing her to succeed as if her success will guarantee yours too. If Millie can do it, there's hope for us all. 

Although the novel focuses on Millie's life, the host of supporting characters are all incredibly entertaining in their own ways as well, which makes the story far more interesting. There are numerous sub-plots including one about Millie's daughter and one about her best friend. Her daughter's boyfriend, a Papua New Guinean, Eugene, is just very strange and doesn't speak particularly good English and you can imagine being thoroughly weirded out by him if you were to meet him in real life. There's also Millie's boss, Esther, who is stern and unforgiving, but you (unexpectedly) grow to love her by the end of the novel. 

The plot doesn't have all that much to it really as it's Millie as a character that is the main focus of the novel. Sure, lots of funny things happen, but they're all pretty mundane things that would happen in day-to-day life that are only made funny by the fact that they all happen to Millie. There are some laugh out loud moments, however, and you can't get through a single page without Millie blundering something or other. Lederer's sense of humour is great and it really shines through in this story. Whilst some moments are laugh-out-loud hilarious, readers will go through the majority of this story silently mocking Millie and scoffing at how pathetic she is at times. That said, it will no doubt be in the back of every woman's mind that she could very well be in the same position as Millie one day. 

In conclusion, Helen Lederer's Losing It is a great read for those looking for some light entertainment. The story is an easy read that you'll easily get through in just one short afternoon. This will probably appeal most to middle aged women, especially those going through a bit of a crisis, as Millie embodies the everyday woman. Perfect for fans of Dawn French and Sue Townsend, this is a great piece of women's fiction that you will no doubt enjoy. 

4 February 2015

Valentine's Day Giveaway! Win a selection of books up to the value of £20/$30!

It's giveaway time again! To celebrate Valentine's Day, I'm hosting a giveaway of romantic books. Although you can pick any books of your choice, I would highly recommend picking one of the following titles which are great reads for this time of year!

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Where Rainbows End by Cecila Ahern
Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

All The Bright places is a top YA release this year, which I've only just started reading but has all the book bloggers raving about it! Where Rainbows End is the book from which the recent film Love, Rosie (starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin) was adapted. Who could forget that the Fifty Shades of Grey film comes out on Valentine's Day this year? If you haven't already read it, I would recommend reading it just so you can read for yourself the novel that took the world by storm! 

Open Internationally as long as TBD ships to your country 
04/02/15 - 18/02/15