Thursday, 22 August 2019

Review - Sock Shop's Bamboo Socks (plus 10% discount code)




Socks.  Such a simple thing, something we just take for granted.  We get up, get dressed and slip those socks onto our feet without really thinking about them.

I wear socks pretty much every day, definitely on workdays and if I need to go out anywhere.  As I rarely wear skirts or dresses and trousers are my outfit of choice, it stands to reason that socks are an essential part of my wardrobe.

I admit I do have a thing for novelty socks, I like patterns and bright colours, not a huge fan of plain white socks although I do have some for the right occasion.  So I was delighted when Sock Shop sent me some of their bamboo socks to try.

I had never heard of Bamboo socks before but I do know bamboo is a pretty popular material these days given its sustainability. 

So I opted to try the LADIES 2 PAIR ELLE BAMBOO ANKLET SOCKS in Pink




The first thing I noticed when putting the socks on is how soft the feel of them was.  This would make them ideal for anyone with particularly sensitive skin as they felt very light on and when I removed them, there were no marks around my legs where they had been.  However this didn't lessen their grip any and they remained up all day, no need to keep pulling them up.  They really didn't feel like I was wearing any socks at all

 I also noticed that my feet didn't seem to smell as much when I took my trainers off as they can do when I wear regular cotton socks.  This was because the bamboo helps feet to breathe more and is also hypoallergenic and contains natural antibacterial properties.

Sock Shop carries a wide range of bamboo socks for everyone, men, women and children as well as many other socks in cotton, wool, cashmere and even Alpaca. 

Take a look at the Sock Shop website for their full range and bag a 10% discount with the code TwoBirds10


And check out my video review here https://youtu.be/-HNhX1WpINw




Thursday, 8 August 2019

The Strictly Class of 2019

It's that time of year once again when the TV suddenly becomes interesting in my house.  As a rule, I don't watch any 'live' TV, I prefer to watch my rather large collection of DVDs, there isn't much that peaks my interest these days television wise.  There are, however, three shows guaranteed to make me switch on or pay attention.  They are Mastermind (although this is only ever watched with my dad to see just how much we don't know about certain subjects), The Great British Bake-Off (it's on its way folks) and finally, the Creme de la Creme, Strictly Come Dancing.



Yes, the sparkles and sequins are being shined once more as fifteen more celebrities line up to take on the challenge for the Glitterball.  And to be honest, this year, it's anyone's to win.

More on the celebs in a moment. First up there are a couple of changes to the professional line-up.  The first announcement was that Pasha Kovalev was not going to return this year.  He did win the show a few years back with Caroline Flack as his partner and last year he partnered Ashley Roberts.  He probably felt if he couldn't win with Ashley then he'd never win it again (my opinion only guys).  So he has been replaced by a female dancer Nancy Xu, who is a former Latin champion and been a finalist in 'So You Think You Can Dance?' in China, as well as appearing in the West End and Broadway show Burn The Floor.


The next big shock came as it was revealed that beloved judge, Miss Nicey-Nice Dame Darcey Bussell would also not be returning to Strictly this year.  As always there was much speculation about who would replace her until it was finally announced that the new judge would be Motsi Mabuse.  If the name sounds familiar then it's likely to be because her sister is one of the pro dancers, Oti Mabuse.  But if you are expecting favouritism then think again. Motsi was the judge on the German version of Strictly when her sister was a pro and was responsible for her being voted out by scoring her a measly 3 points.  So no nepotism here, thank you very much.

So with the rest of the judges and pro dancers the same as last year, it's time to move onto the celebs themselves.   This year, there are no obvious stand out dancers, no pop stars or stars with an obvious dance background. So as I say, it's anyone's guess who will lift the Glitterball, and we will have to wait and see in the first couple of weeks, who the ones to watch will be.  Also unlike the last couple of years, I have no obvious favourite.  Last year Danny John-Jules was my pick, obvious really given he's one of the stars of one of my all-time favourite shows Red Dwarf but this yeat?  Nothing.  Yes, I know some of the stars, by name really rather than by being a fan so again, I will wait and see how the first couple of dances go before I nominate my champion.


So here is the line up for 2019

Alex Scott -  Ex England footballer, she represented Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics.  She is now a well-known football commentator, recently appearing as a pundit for the 2019 World Cup.
 Anneka Rice - Now a BBC radio presenter, Anneka is probably most well-known for the two tv shows she appeared on in the 80's, namely Treasure Hunt, where two members of the public in the studio had to solve clues which sent Anneka to various locations in the UK via helicopter to locate the prize, and Challenge Anneka where members of the public would challenge her to complete a charitable project of some kind within a specific deadline, by gathering volunteers and various organisations to help her for free, both of which I remember watching.

Anneka Rice


Catherine Tyldsley - Actress, most notable roles are Iris Moss in 'Lillies' and Eva Price in 'Coronation Street'



Chris Ramsey - South Shields born comedian, Chris is a regular panellist on various comedy quiz shows and well known on the comedy circuit.

James Cracknell - Now a sports presenter, James represented Great Britain in rowing events in Junior World Championships, World Championships and the Olympic in both 2 men and 4 men teams, winning 2 Olympic gold medals along the way.


Emma Barton - Eastenders actress playing the role of Honey Mitchell, she also has theatre credits to her name so probably a bit of dance experience here.


Dev Griffin - Actor and DJ, is probably more well known for presenting the weekend afternoon show on BBC Radio 1

David James - Ex England footballer and goalkeeper, David achieving 572 appearances in Englands premier league (only 3 players appeared more) and was capped 53 times for England, being their number 1 goalkeeping choice in both Euro 2004 and World Cup 2010 campaigns.  He is now a regular pundit for BT Sport.





Jamie Laing - A few minor TV roles, Jamie is most well-known for appearing in reality TV show 'Made in Chelsea'.




Karim Zeroual - Currently a presenter on CBBC (Children's BBC)






Michelle Visage - American singer, TV host and radio DJ, Michelle is most well known these days for her role as a judge on Ru Paul's Drag Race



Mike Bushell - Sports presenter on BBC, he currently holds the world record for trying the most sports in a bid to encourage more people to get active and find a sport for them. His record is over 350 different sports.


Saffron Barker - Hoping to emulate Joe Sugg's popularity, Saffron is another social media star



Viscountess Emma Weymouth - a Viscountess through marriage, she has had various jobs including modelling, brand ambassador, owns a lifestyle website and is a Huffington Post contributing editor





Will Bayley - British Paralympic table-tennis champion, ranked World number 1, Will was born with Arthrogryposis, which affects both his arms and legs.  He won silver in London 2012 and gold in Rio 2016 Paralympics.







So there they are, the full line-up.  Only Emma Barton really has any noticeable dance in her CV. The rest appear to be total novices.  So now we await the launch show where each celeb will meet their partner and teacher in their bid to be Strictly champion 2019.

Until then, Keep Dancing










All images except my name tag courtesy of BBC

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The Perfect Dress #bookreview

The Perfect Dress


Author: Louisa Leaman
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Published: October 17, 2019
Genres: romance, contemporary
Date read: August 7, 2019
Number of times read: 1
Format: E-book
Source: Netgalley






Summary


Fran’s wedding dress shop isn’t like any other. A treasure trove of history, filled with gowns from every decade for every type of bride. But not as you’d expect.

Something bold for the shy and retiring.
Something simple for the woman who is unafraid to stand out.
And something dazzling for the bride who wouldn’t normally dare to be different.

No matter your expectations, you’d never guess your own perfect dress. But Fran knows… she feels the wisdom woven into every gown, a gift from the previous owner waiting to be handed down to the next bride.

When Fran finds a dress that seems to be perfect for her she can’t wait to know its complex history which starts with her getting to know the son of the previous owner…. -- via Goodreads


Review


Weddings! I love reading about weddings and all the frippery that goes with it, despite never having been there, done that. So when a book like this comes along that pretty much guarantees nuptials, it’s definitely one for my TBR shelf.

So Fran is a sweet girl, running the Whispering Dress wedding dress shop. She doesn’t sell your usual mass-produced gowns, not worried about a quick sale or big commission. She wants to make sure her brides get the right dress, not necessarily what they think they want but what Fran knows they need. All her dresses are described in so much detail by the author, you can see them. So when she finds a one-of-a-kind exquisite dress in a house clearance, you are drawn into the history of the dress just as much as Fran is.

Of course, it helps that Raf happens to be the guy giving the dress away. Whilst he is gorgeous and captivating, at the same time he is moody, arrogant and very secretive. Both Fran and Raf have baggage, all of which is ensuring that their relationship will not run smoothly. We find out Raf’s secrets first because he lets his guard down first to the point you think it’s all worked out but just then Fran’s emotional luggage holds them back.

Ultimately it all comes down to the dress. It both drives them apart and pulls them together at different points in the story.

Sewn together like the lace and silk of the wedding gowns within, this romance is both beautiful and full of mystery.


Overall Rating

4 out of 5






Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

You, Me and the Movies #bookreview

You, Me and the Movies



Author: Fiona Collins
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Published: April 4, 2019
Genres: romance, contemporary
Date read: July 27, 2019
Number of times read: 1
Format: E-book
Source: Netgalley







Summary


He only speaks in movie references but they make her remember everything...


After a marriage which threatened her entire sense of self, Arden Hall is divorced, doing a lacklustre job and living a quiet, rather unexciting life. But one day, visiting a friend in a London hospital, she suddenly re-encounters her former lover from thirty years ago, charismatic Film Studies lecturer, Mac Bartley-Thomas, who is lying in a bed on the same ward.

Suffering from a brain injury and unable to converse, all Mac can utter is short references to the famous films he and Arden once watched together, back when she was a student and they conducted their affair: Casablanca, Bonnie and Clyde, Some Like It Hot and more...

These movies spark both bittersweet memories of their passionate relationship and the potential for a more reflective Arden to finally fulfil the promise of her younger self. And in the course of her visits to Mac, she starts to reconnect with the world in a way that she didn’t think was possible... -- via Goodreads


Review

For anyone who knows me, they would know that films and movies are one of my big loves. Whereas my reading genres are more or less fixed, my film viewing is a little more eclectic, although I steer clear of horror in any format.

This book really appealed to me as not only was it romance-driven, it also brought several great movies to life.

The timeline jumps back and forth, starting with present-day Arden, who is just drifting along in life, not overly happy in her job and has escaped from a mentally abusive husband and is not looking to find another love. A chance meeting with an old friend leads to her visiting another old friend in hospital and by chance, discovering her one true love and lecturer Mac. This leads to flashbacks to her student days when she and Mac were involved in a passionate affair, based on movies as this was Mac’s vocation.

Present-day Mac is unable to speak, save for a few words which are movie references to ‘The List’, a list of films he was working on for his students, which Arden watched with him during their affair, giving her own insights and opinions.

As their affair continues, you already know it’s doomed to end, given that they haven’t seen each other for thirty years but it’s how the affair ends and it’s the effect on Arden that makes you keep reading. As she visits Mac, gets to know his neighbour James who is also visiting and also searches for Mac’s estranged son Lloyd, Arden starts to blossom and come out of her shell. We also learn about Arden’s family, her parents, who had a huge impact on her life both as a student and an adult.

The ending was inevitable yet satisfying, it was the only sensible conclusion to this wonderful story of love, loss and rebirth that made me both happy and sad at the same time.

For romance lovers and movie lovers, this will capture your heart and soul



Overall Rating


4 out of 5








Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

The Royal Treatment #bookreview #canadiancontent

The Royal Treatment


Author: Melanie Summers (M.J. Summers)
Publisher: Gretz Corp
Published: September 13, 2017
Page count: 294
Genres: romance, chic lit, contemporary
Date read: March 23, 2019
Number of times read: 1
Format: paperback
Source: Borrowed it from Angie, who won it









Summary

For fans of Bridget Jones and The Princess Diaries comes a laugh-out-loud, feel-good comedy with a sizzling side of romance…

Ultra-private, ridiculously handsome Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends…

Can two natural enemies find their forever in each other’s arms, or will they ruin each other to save themselves? -- via Goodreads

Review

Let me start my review by telling you the story of how I came to this book because it really set my expectations for how I read the book. Angie won the book in late 2017 and read it in January 2018. I commented that it sounded like something I'd want to read and that I'd have to borrow her e-reader the next time I visited her. She informed me that she'd won an autographed physical copy and then sent it to me in the mail and it sat on my bookshelf ever since. For her birthday this year, I wanted to buy her the second and third books in the series as paperbacks to match her first book. And then I thought to myself, "Ooooh I wonder if I reach out to the author if I could buy some signed bookplates off of her so I can really get Angie a matched set." So with that in mind, I hunted down the email address for Melanie Summers, who is a Canadian author, and I emailed her and told her the whole story. I certainly was not expecting the response that I received or especially the speed with which she responded. Melanie is absolutely lovely, and based on this interaction she is now one of my favourite authors. Within two hours of receiving my email, she emailed me back to tell me that she loved my idea so much that she was going to send Angie personalised autographed copies of both books 2 and 3 on my behalf. So I was obviously stupidly excited about that. I told Angie that her birthday gift might be delayed because I know what Canada Post can be like about shipping to England, but it arrived early, and when Angie opened it she was absolutely over the moon.

Now, backstory out of the way, let's get to my actual review of the book. My expectations going into it were high based on the fact that Angie loved it and that I had such a positive experience with the author. I wanted to love it, but I was also a bit nervous because it's described as a romantic comedy and I am VERY much hit or miss with romantic comedies. I really don't like most of them I find a lot of romantic comedies too awkward and as an awkward and anxious person watch or reading about people in long, drawn out, awkward situations sets off my own anxiety. But I really enjoyed the book. Sure, there was some awkwardness, that just goes with the territory for a romantic comedy, the awkwardness tends to be where the comedy comes from. However, what made this book make the list of romantic comedies I enjoy, is that not ALL of the comedy came from awkward moments, and the awkward moments were far enough between and not so drawn out that they made me uncomfortable. Summers does a very good job of tempering awkward humour with witty humour and has a fantastic mix of sweetness that runs throughout all of it.

Tessa is, for the most part, an incredibly relatable and realistic character. It's incredibly easy to sympathise with her and to put yourself into her shoes. She's supposed to be the average, everywoman character who the reader can imagine themselves as. But she's unique enough, intelligent enough, and independent enough to really stand out and stand up on her own. Being the only daughter in a family of highly intelligent and highly dickish brothers (one of whom is an astrophysics professor, and I'm only mildly disappointed she just didn't make the obvious rocket scientist joke) who treat her like crap it shouldn't come as a surprise that the author has also given her a crap history with men. But for all that Tessa is strong-willed, she knows what she wants, and barring disastrous accidents is for the most part pretty good about making it happen on her own for most of the book. She's a woman who has been beaten down by men her whole life and so she doesn't trust them, and this is especially true of Prince Arthur.

Prince Arthur, I'm so glad to bring him up. I love him as a character. He is a case study in subversions in a lot of ways. As is his relationship with Tessa really. To me, he really seems to almost take on the feminine role in the relationship with Tessa. Usually, in this genre you see the girl trying to change herself for the guy, trying to get him to fall for her etc. But here, it's Arthur doing those things and I love that Summers has subverted the gender expectations that way. It makes me incredibly happy, that of the two main characters. Arthur is the one to fall in love first and the one to acknowledge his feelings. Now don't get me wrong he still really stands in the masculine role as well. He starts off as a cocky womaniser, but those are learned behaviours that he got from his awful father and you watch him grow out of them as he grows closer to Tessa. 

The plot wasn't anything revolutionary. Your standard romantic comedy set-up of two seemingly incompatible people meeting under unusual circumstances, hijinx ensue, love happens. What makes this book stand out is the characters and the specific hijinx. You've got a disgraced journalist cum political shock blogger (pun VERY much intended for those of you who have read/will read this book) who finds herself living in the palace with the very family that she advocates again on her blog. You've got a prince who is trying to get some good PR because he's scared the country is about to oust his family. You see what's going to happen from a mile away, but you enjoy every moment of getting there with Tessa and Arthur. Overall, I really did enjoy the book, and I'll definitely be finishing the series.

If you watched Julia Stiles's The Prince and Me film, and enjoyed it, then I think you'll really like this book because it's in the same vein.

Overall Rating



4 bolts


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2018 Reading Challenge Recap #blogmas (Pt. 1)



All right, it's the last day of December, the last day of 2018, and that means also the last day of Blogmas! I did it, guys! I actually posted every day in December! I am impressed with myself for this feat haha. So because it's the last day of 2018 that means it's time for my annual reading challenge recap, aka the longest post I make all year. How did I do you ask? Well, I set out to do 4 challenges, and I completed 2 of them. Interestingly one of the ones I failed was the one I created myself back at the beginning of the year. I realised in about June that I had been waaaaaaay too over ambitious with my challenges this year and knew I wasn't going to finish them. In addition to the challenge of my own devising, I attempted Book Riot's Read Harder challenge, which is you've been following my Blogmas posts you'll know that I won. I also attempted to do PopSugar, but my over ambition got the better of me there too so I didn't finish that one either. My last challenge was, of course, the annual Goodreads challenge I pledged 100 and ended up at 122. That's down from last year, but it's still the second most I have ever read in a year so I am freaking psyched.

The problem was, instead of doing what I did last year and trying to find books that fit multiple challenges, I was trying to do a different book for every single challenge. And with the way, I'd split out some of them, that worked out to be over 160 books which is more than I read last year. That was daunting and actually impacted my speed because I overwhelmed myself with the sheer amount of things I planned to read and therefore put off reading it. So I went back today and had a look at what books I read that could work for multiple challenges. I still failed, but by a much narrower margin haha.

Onto the recaps! What were the challenges and what did I read for them:

Book Riot Read Harder 2018

24/24 = 100%

A book published posthumously
The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams [published in 2002, Adams passed away in 2001] [7/11/18]

A book of true crime
Who killed my daughter? The startling true story of a mother’s search for her daughter’s murderer by Lois Duncan [17/11/18]

A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance)
Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper [middle grade/YA fantasy] [3/9/18]

A comic written and illustrated by the same person
Hostage by Guy Delisle [8/1/18]

A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa) Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters [Russia] [13/8/18]

A book about nature
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood [8/10/18]

A western
Wizard and Glass by Stephen King [13/5/18]

A comic written or illustrated by a person of colour
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marie Liu and Sana Takeda [28/5/18]

A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson [described in reviews as “postcolonial redemption story.”] [4/12/18]

A romance novel by or about a person of colour
Winds of Salem by Melissa de la Cruz [paranormal romance by a filipina author] [11/12/18]

A children’s classic published before 1980
Last Battle by C.S. Lewis [first published in 1956] [27/4/18]

A celebrity memoir
Nerd do Well by Simon Pegg [27/12/18]

An Oprah Book Club selection
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson [Oprah’s Summer Reading club] [30/12/18]

A book of social science
Free Speech on Campus by Sigal R. Ben-Porath [29/12/18]

A one-sitting book
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis [18/1/18]

The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle-grade series
Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr [6/1/18]

A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
Cress by Marissa Meyer [4/11/18]

A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image
Princeless vol.2: Get over it [Published by Action Labs Entertainment] [29/5/18]

A book of genre fiction in translation
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke [fantasy - translated from German] [27/5/18]

A book with a cover you hate
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade [2009 Harper Collins Hardcover edition] [22/9/18]

A mystery by a person of colour or LGBTQ+ author
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas [25/4/18]

An essay anthology
Out Behind the Desk: Workplace Issues for Lgbtq Librarians edited by Tracy Nectoux [28/1/18]

A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie [Miss Marple] [14/7/18]

An assigned book you hated (or never finished)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley [I hated this book when I was assigned it in my undergrad English program] [28/10/18]

Because this post is so long I am inserting a cut. Keep going if you want to see PopSugar. My TBR challenge will come as a seperate post tomorrow because this one is making my browser lag haha.