Monday, 30 January 2017

Recently watched films

I've been watching a lot of films over the last month, and thought it would be fun to share. Instead of about 12 different reviews, I thought I'd combine it in one post. I find it easier to sum them up than to discuss one particular film.

If you like the facebook page, and if not click here (*shameless plug*), you will have noticed I purchased heaps of DVDS. That is partly where these reviews come from:

1. Dam Busters (1955)
I honestly couldn't tell you one small detail of what happened. It wasn't my thing and felt like watching paint dry. I was surprised as I usually like learning more about WW2, and with it being scored  at 7.4/10 on IMDb, I was confident I'd enjoy it.
My rating: 2/10 - I just couldn't take to it, but it is a true story and something worth knowing more. I strongly believe WW2 must never be forgotten!

2. Chariots of Fire (1981)
It felt a bit overrated. I couldn't connect with the characters or any of the story. It was another true story which I thought might be interesting. It's set after WW1 in 1924 where Brits, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell are natural athletes, and it shows how their lives compare. I do feel like I might be alone in my disappointment of the film as it received 4 oscars, 14 other awards and 19 nominations.
My rating: 3/10 - I knew part of what was happening, and the story itself is interesting. I just don't feel it came across well in the film

3. Cheap Thrills (2013)
This was safely one of the most fucked up (that is really the only word to sum it up - sorry if the swearing offends) films I've seen, and I've watched messed-up films from the likes of Lars Von Trier. I mean I've watched Antichrist, and didn't think I could be easily shocked after that! It centres around two friends, who come across a couple in a bar who make bets for them to do some crazy stuff. It starts off tame with whoever drinks the shot, get $50 and leads to so much worse. One of the worst including betting $15,000 to chop off a pinky finger. That's not even the end of that finger, it comes to haunt twice more with some bizarre bets and turn of events.
My rating: 7/10 - It was really messed up, but in fairness I couldn't stop watching this black comedy. I wouldn't watch it again, and not sure I'd watch it again, but it was definitely memorable. I also realised I wouldn't do much for a bet!

4. Elizabeth (1998)
This era of history has always fascinated me. From the reign of Henry VIII to that of his children. It was one of my favourite eras to learn in history. Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived - I can never forget that! Onto the film...I find it hard to stay focused on period dramas, but I loved this. I can't think what I enjoyed most, but it featured Elizabeth as the longest reigning of her siblings, her struggles in power and looking for suitors as queen. I was hooked throughout.
My rating: 9/10 - This was amazing, and think most would enjoy watching this. I definitely recommend watching this!

5. Dr. No (1962)
Released 2 years before my mum was born, I wasn't sure whether I'd appreciate it. I'm not huge on action, so I found this hard to follow at times, but love that era of films - the colour, fashions and almost "put-on" voices (not sure how to describe it). However it was easy viewing, and I can now understand how Sean Connery might be a favourite Bond actor.
My rating: 7/10 - Another film I'd recommend watching! It's a great combination of action, drama and romance.

6. Crazy Beautiful (2001)
It was a teen rom-com, which made me feel like I was just a couple of years too old to watch! That being said, I found it easy to follow and would compare it in some ways to a teenage Silver Linings Playbook. I like how Nicole (Kirsten Dunst) and Carlos (Jay Hernandez) characters have completely different lives with different problems and ambitions. It is all about how they cross paths, and their lives are changed forever. Wild child, Nicole helps Carlos fly a plane for the first time, but how will Carlos change Nicole's outlook to life?
My rating: 8/10 - I really enjoyed watching this, but not sure whether I'd necessarily recommend it. You will know from reading my review if it's a story that appeals to you.

7. Frankenstein (1931)
I wanted to watch this, as I couldn't connect to the book. Usually when this happens, it helps me understand and picture what is going on better. It helped when I struggled to read 1984. However this didn't work. It seemed out-dated and too bizarre to keep me interested. The only thing that I enjoyed was that it was short. How many films are a mere 71 minutes? I also like the way it is filmed in terms of black and white, makeup and costume.
My rating: 3/10 - It is worth watching as it is a true classic, but I just didn't take to it.

8. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Unlike most sequels, I like this much more. I found it much easier to follow. I even found the housemaid woman to be funny to watch. When Frankenstein's monster says "friend, lady friend" it also reminded me of Inbetweeners, and couldn't stop laughing.
My rating: 4/10 - I did enjoy this more to the prequel, but it was still not my favourite.

9. Brown Sugar (2002)
Reviewers have compared this to When Harry met Sally. I can see why because it follows the premise of two friends (except more childhood friends), who come to consider a relationship together. Once compared, I didn't think it would be as good as the rom-com classic, but I still loved it. It shows true love, friendship, comedy and links with the love of music. With a combined love for hip-hop, the story of Andre and Sidney is interesting to follow.
My rating:  8/10 - I'd recommend to anyone who loves a good rom-com.

10. Children of the Corn (1984)
I was bored with this. I found it so over-acted that I found it very hard to keep interested.
My rating: 5/10 - Not the worst film I've seen, but not the best either!

11. The Departed (2006)
I always get confused with Matt Damon and Leo Dicaprio, so if like me, you might find it harder to follow...otherwise I think it was really well acted. It's another film Leo should have got an oscar for! I loved how it was a true story, and enjoyed watching this thriller.
My rating: 7.5/10 - I'd definitely recommend this film as it explores the story of a mole in the mob and mole in the police force.

12. Death to Smoochy (2002)
What can I say? Robin William stars, I can never fault a film that he's in. Even One Hour Photo was great in my eyes! It follows the story of two rival children entertainers, some comedy and some action.
My rating: 7/10 - I recommend this as it's easy viewing, and unlike many comedies it's not completely predictable in plot.

13. East is East (1999)
My mum said it was one of her favourite films, and I watched it again. I watched it when I was in school (not sure when), and didn't remember much but it was fun to watch. It has the elements of every good genre - action, growing-age, comedy, romance, drama. My favourite scene had to be towards the end, when the art project is revealed. It is funny but cover hard-hitting issues of living around racism and conflicting cultures.
My rating: 9/10 - I think this is great for anyone to watch. It shows how it is to grow up in Britain with Pakistani heritage. You learn a lot about the traditions followed by lots of comedy as it's set in Salford. I also just found out they did a sequel - West is West, which I will need to watch too.

Lots of great and not so great films over the past month - what films have you seen recently? I want to see Trainspotting 2 and more films from my list.

Friday, 27 January 2017

My Favourite Mascaras

I have to tell you I've tried a LOT of mascaras from dirt-cheap to the higher end mascaras. Therefore I thought it might be fun to write about the favourites that I keep going back to, or have stuck out to me.

First of all, I thought I'd start with Maxfactor because I remember almost growing up with my mum using the brand. I've never had any issues using their products and recommend it to anyone. All products are a reasonable price and last.

They are known for their amazing mascaras, and I love a few from them including:

  • Maxfactor False LashEffect Mascara - I hear that the formula might have changed since I last used it, and many people don't like it, but thought I'd still include it as it's one that comes to mind when describing favourite mascaras.
  • Maxfactor Masterpiece Max Mascara - This reminds me of my mum as she used to use this all the time, but in waterproof. It was safely the first mascara I fell in love with.

I'm also keen to try their Velvet Volume False Lash Effect mascara because I hear it's one of their best yet. Growing up loving Maxfactor and even using its products for special occasions such as my graduation, I know I can rely on their products. I love their lip products, foundations, blushers and mascaras of course. I even used to wear their nail polishes before discovering favourite nail brands like Barry M, Nails Inc and O.P.I.

If you haven't tried Maxfactor before I definitely recommend it. It is promoted to be used by makeup artists and still love it. I bought one of their lip products recently. Anyone who knows me will know I rarely wear lipsticks or lipglosses. I hate them! Not lipfinity, it lasts and fades gradually. I tested it on my hand, and three days later and after a shower and cleansing my hand it's still kinda there. Not as noticeable but it is hard to shift! I like how easy it goes on, and actually used the last one up. How often do women do that? Anyway back to mascaras...

I've recently tried L'Oreal mascara Voluminous Extra-Black mascara recommended in a Look article I'd read of best mascaras. I thought it would be fun to buy as it's not as expensive as my usual favourite Benefit mascaras (as discussed here). I found this easy to build volume fast which is what you need, lasts all day and isn't clumpy as it says on the labelling (sometimes the labels lie though). It is a lovely brush to use, and recommend to anyone wanting a decent mascara at a good price. Look describes it as a "volume-inducing mascara" that has "many fans voting it their ultimate under £10 mascara for gorgeously thick lashes." Makeup artists are even said to love it as it separates, lengthens and curls. I have to agree. Having trichotillomania means I feel the need to make sure it is not clumpy, as it emphasises gaps on eyelinds, and also makes me want to pull my lashes more. If it can separate MY lashes and clump, I think it suits anyone! I will also hope to burn through more of the Look mascara recommendations, but I have a lot of mascaras to use up just now.

Next, I thought I'd describe my two favourite Benefit mascaras. I love Rollerlash and They're Real! mascaras from Benefit. I know I've already discussed these briefly in my recent Benefit post, but thought I'd go into more detail about just why they are so great.

Rollerlash is so easy to apply. I am the only person I know who takes longer to apply eye makeup than foundation. I literally slap on my face makeup, but take my time doing my eyes. Partly because I like to enthusiase my favourite face feature and also because I like doing it. However as someone who is lazy with my makeup routine, I always look for quicker and easier ways to look better. This is my solution. I don't feel like I'm putting coats on and don't often take longer than 5 minutes to apply it.

Unlike other mascaras, it is so easy to remove which is part of the issue. You rub and rub and take all your eyelashes off! Not with this, it also has lash-conditioning benefits; it includes provitamin B5 and serin. I even love the brush for this product. It pushes up lashes - even those stubborn ones that push down and it also stops you reaching for the curlers!

They're Real is fab! It's a favourite with a few of my friends too. It adds length fast and can separate lashes well. This is what I'm using at the moment.

This one is apparently Benefit's most popular mascara and I can see why. It does what it says it does. It adds length, volume and I also love how black your eyelashes are with it (if you buy the jet black of course - they do have it in brown and maybe other colours). I also love how it manages to pick lashes you haven't seen like the blonde ones or the smaller ones area the corner of your eye etc. It's just great!

Finally, I thought I'd finish with another mascara I loved as a teen. I haven't used for two or three years, but often go back. It's just great. I've tried a few of their mascaras, and love them, but this is by far my favourite one by the brand. It has a "roller brush" like that of Benefit (not surprising as it's the same owners who make it). This is amazing as it says you only need one coat, and that's enough for me. It gives a separated and long length.

Bourjois Paris Volume Glamour mascara is so great they have bought other extensions of Volume Glamour including:

Hope you enjoyed the post, and let me know if you have tried any of these. Alternatively I'd like to hear if there are mascaras you wish I had mentioned or think that I should try.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Latest Shopping Haul

I love reading or hearing what others get when they go shopping. On that note, I thought it might be fun to show some things I got on a recent visit to Ipswich city centre! I actually meant to post this two weeks ago. I've even had another shopping haul since then, so have decided to combine them both.

#Haul 1
I feel I was more reserved than some youtubers who get tons of stuff, and I went out wanting new leggings, which I could do with right now as I have a hole in one of my two pairs. I also needed more tops to go with my many printed skirts.

With this in mind, I swapped some christmas presents I knew I wouldn't use, and used part of one of my gift card. I went on to buy some tights and two tops from M&S. This was funny because I loved a burgundy top my Mum had got me for Christmas from M&S, and one of my motto's is if you like something, get it in every colour. I got it in blue and black:

Wearing with green skirt & boots

Ignore my big forehead spot!

I also got this lovely pink jumper which I like to wear with leggings and boots:

I got a lovely teal colour high-neck long-sleeve top which has gone nicely with one of my pinafores. I keep struggling to find tops to go with this. Now that I have it on, I'm not sure whether my pinafore is now too short!

I then got a grey jumper, which might be a size too tight, but shows how I'm progressing in losing weight. This is my first size 12 in about two years! I'm well impressed with that. My goal of being a size 10 again doesn't feel as far off. I just need to keep it up!

I bought some slim jeans in a size 16 which are too big for me. Funnily in the fitting room, they fitted perfect but got them home and they just kept falling down. I tried them on the next day again! I have worn them a few times, so can't take them back. Therefore I've just chosen to sell them on ebay. Annoying as I don't think I will get much for them.

I teamed both the grey jumper and jeans in the following picture:

Finally, I got another grey top; I wish you could feel the material as it's so soft! I thought it would go nice with leggings and make the perfect casual outfit for round the house. It's nice but noticed that I keep mistaking size 14's for size 18; I keep looking on the US size by mistake. However I like how this is a bit more slouchy.

Worst of all, I got no new leggings. In fairness, I tried some in Primark, but just wasn't impressed.

As you might remember from my wishlist post before Christmas (I know it's hard to think before then), I'm still on the search for the perfect foundation for me. I have always wanted to try Bobbi Brown products, so am currently trying their Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF15 in shade Cool Ivory 1.25. 

The colour is seemed similar to Maxfactor, which is the closest I've found to liking. It's the foundation I go back to if I'm stuck for choices. 

I like so far how it doesn't feel thick but gives you buildable coverage. I often hate how it feels like you're applying paint when adding your foundation. I always feel I need a high coverage for my acne scarring, but don't want to be wearing lots of makeup.

Here is a picture with me modelling my new foundation:

When I finish it, I will review the foundation, and hope to work through all the foundations on my wishlist. I WILL find the perfect one. So far I like that it doesn't feel cloggy and like I have a face of makeup on. I have also noticed that I don't need as much foundation.

In the above picture I'm also wearing No7 eyebrow pencil, Urban Decay concealer, Benefit High beam highlighter, Tarte blusher, Tarte contour, Tarte eyeshadow, Rimmel liquid eyeliner, L'Oreal kohl brown eyeliner, L'Oreal mascara and Benefit Rockateur Bronzer.

#Haul 2
My sole purpose was to get leggings and jeans perhaps. I came back with a bit more than that, but I can't complain too much as I did need to drastically update my wardrobe.


We started by going to Dorothy Perkins where I got the above pair of leggings with grey stripes down the side (I hear they give the slim illusion) - so comfy on; and I then got the navy jeggings below. I love the way my bum looks in these jeggings! I know that sounds so vain, but been thinking I am bit heavier than I wish to be yet some trousers seem to flatten my bum - who wants that?

Anyway, we then went in Clark's to look at the sale stuff. Considering it is very small in Clark's I didn't expect to see anything I liked. I thought it would just be my mum getting something, as she needed to swap the boots she'd ordered online. However I came across some boots that I fell in love with. I like how they are waterproof, have a warm lining and have the military style that I'm into. I always seem to make my boots last, so although I paid £60, they were reduced from £120.

My biggest splurge was in Primark again.

I bought 3 of the same black leggings (how could I resist at £2.50 each?) because I thought it might give me a bit longer with them. People moan they are see-through and don't last - I say they are cheaper than tights, so honestly don't care. I also tend to wear longer tops or dresses with leggings, so as long as it covers my bum I don't mind if it's a tad see-through. I thought about photographing these, but think everyone has seen black leggings, so not too interesting...

I also fell in love with these jeggings. I don't usually like lighter colour denim, but loved the effect from these. You will notice I teamed this with my regular boots and blue jumper that has zips to each side. Again, I bought the blue jumper from Primark on Saturday. It is a pastel shade, which will be great as we come into springtime. I am not usually a fan of pastel shades, but feel drawn to them lately.

I also found a lovely blush colour cardie (a colour I am loving at the moment). I thought it would go well with a lot of things I own and best of all, I can wear it under my coat. Recently I've noticed my cardies are too long to wear with a coat so I've been skipping a layer at times.

Then that was me at the checkout...

At the checkout I noticed some blender sponges for £1.50. I've been wanting to try using sponges to apply my makeup and thought I couldn't resist at that price.

I was disappointed to not find any gloves. They aren't selling any, which is mad to me since we live in the UK! I always manage to lose gloves or end up with odds, and am now desperate. I did try Marks later but just wasn't impressed and was not in the mood with heavy boots and other shopping to carry.

We then ended by getting food from Marks and Sparks! We passed the markets that are on in Ipswich, and I got a lovely homemade garlic bread herb roll thing - so yum! We managed to do all that in about an hour and a half to be home by half 11.

Let me know what you think of my new items. Have you bought anything new for the new year? Please share any new outfits you've been putting together.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Book Review of Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit

One of my main goals this year is to read more, and I can definitely say I'm doing well so far. I challenged myself to complete the Popsugar challenge, as discussed here. Already I've finished one book, Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit by Sean Hepburn Ferrer. I've also completed a childhood favourite, The tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, started re-reading a favourite book by Jacqueline Wilson - Girls under pressure, yesterday I finished Jane Eyre and have also enjoyed listening to the audiobook, Fool me once by Harlan Coben. This means that I predict I will read more in this month than I did last year alone! Onto the first book I finished and what I thought...

As stated in my recent wishlist, I was desperate to read Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit. For those who don't know I greatly admire so much about Audrey Hepburn from her talent for acting, her elegance, her amazing charity work for UNICEF, her inspirational words and just all the things she achieved in the small life she had.

Scenes from Funny Face (pictures in book)

I find it harder in a way to describe how great this book is because I care more than a typical novel. I have never read a biography either; if I want to know about someone I'd rather read it in their own words. When I was a teenager I read a lot of autobiographies. My favourites were from Julie Walters, Paul O'Grady and Michael Parkinson (probably not the typical books a teen would be reading). However considering Audrey Hepburn didn't want to write an autobiography and died three months after I was born, I knew I couldn't read an autobiography from her. That being said, I was impressed to hear her oldest son, Sean wrote a biography about her. Who better to discuss her life than someone who loved her the most and knew her their entire life?

I think if there really is a heaven, Audrey would be looking down; she'd be proud of the way her son went about illustrating her life. The book was filled with just as many pictures as words, so much so that it almost felt like he was showing a member of the family the pictures. I honestly learnt so much about her too. I learnt that she wasn't just a typical celebrity doing charity work; she genuinely cared and went out of her way to help. Children she met were moved; Sean details stories of children who were transfixed by her, or children she hugged and held. Most fascinatingly of all, Audrey had a difficult start to life and dealt with malnutrition during the war; she knew best of all what it must be like. UNICEF was actually a charity who helped her, and she strongly believed in helping them to continue the support they provide. She was the best ambassador they could have! I was near tears reading some of the speeches she gave that featured in the book. She was incredible and inspirational, and almost without trying. Making a difference with such ease!

Somalia 1992 (powerful picture from book)

The book also featured recipes to her favourite dishes, discussed wise motherly advice Audrey gave to her sons and even quotes she appreciated.

Of course, the book also did what every book did and described her life in all - childhood to adult, and even described how she dealt with her illness and the days leading to her death. I don't want to go too much into that as I feel I might give something away, and spoil the book for you.

The one downfall of a son writing a biography can be that it isn't critical. It won't describe personal weaknesses of the well-known actress, but then again he says that early on. There were no scandals about Audrey Hepburn, so why would he create them? If you hope to hear juicy details about her divorces, you won't. Some harder issues are brushed over, but it doesn't stop the book being a favourite biography; one that I'm proud to have read and one that makes me feel like a better person for reading. How many books can genuinely say they've done that?

Instead of focusing on what you might feel you've missed, I will focus on the good. It describes her relationships with her parents, the warmth she had as a mother that demonstrated just one more thing she took to naturally. I also learnt she didn't initially want to be an actress, and it was interesting how she came to be an actress instead.

Perhaps my favourite pictures of Audrey with son (photos in book)

When I finished the book, I felt a strange feeling of emptiness and sadness which I still can't explain. I also felt somehow motivated to support good causes, make a difference in the life you have and show real love to everyone I care for. I hope if you choose to read, you might get a similar appreciation. This has to be a favourite read for me. Like most books, I'm not sure I will read it again, but that's just me. I've never re-read books unless asked for educational purposes.

Taken during the production of War and Peace (photo from book)

I really feel like my review doesn't give it justice, but these are the only words that come to mind as I try not to give too much away or hint too much about the most interesting parts of the book, or parts worth mentioning.

Let me know if you have read this book, or whether you know much about Audrey Hepburn.

I hope to write a summary of all the books I've read this month at the start of the next month. I think it will be good to help me keep on top of the challenge, and also detail some amazing reads!

Another favourite picture from the book taken in 1991

Friday, 13 January 2017

My Benefit Favourites

Benefit is safely one of my favourite makeup brands. It has my favourite bronzers, highlighter and mascaras. Although I haven't tried everything I thought I'd describe what I like most, and the other products I've tried.

In October, my friend over at Lost in Coffee bought me the Blushin' Babe gift set. Inside it included the Watt's Up! highlighter, They're Real! mascara, They're Real! push-up gel liner, Hoola bronzing powder, Dandelion blusher, Rockateur bronzer, Coralista blusher and Sugarbomb bronzer.

(I did try to include a swatch but didn't show the real shine and glow like I wanted!)

I love the high beam highlighter of theirs, and hadn't used it in years. It gives a lovely healthy, natural glow to your skin and is fab for makeup trends like contouring or strobing. I probably don't do either in the right way, but put it on my brow bones, cheeks, on my chin (to attempt to disguise my double-chin) and the bridge of my nose spreading any excess onto my forehead.

As you can tell, I LOVE that highlighter! Therefore I was excited to try the Watt's Up! highlighter, This one has more of a gold tone to it so I was a bit reserved trying it. I thought it might not suit my very pale complexion. However I loved it on, and goes on well with a decent bronzer.


Other favourites in the set included the Rockateur, Sugarbomb and They're Real! mascara. I've used Rockateur before and love it on. My Mum bought it either for a birthday or Christmas; I can't remember and fell in love with it. I love that it gives me some colour and use it most of the time. I always used to use blusher as I'm pale and therefore used to feel bronzers don't suit. With more blonde to my hair, I now prefer more of a bronze than blusher.

I also really liked Sugarbomb as it wasn't too bronzed and had a blend of colours to try.

I'm guilty of already trying the mascara, but like how it adds length fast and can separate the lashes well. Just what you often need. People often complain it's difficult to take off, and pulls off lashes in the process. I would have to agree to some extent, as it has done this in the past for me. However, now that I use Liz Earle, I find if I don't rub too hard, it comes off with some patience.

I also liked the "english rose"colour that comes from Dandelion.

Using a Boots gift card, I also treated myself to the Girl-a-rama gift set. Inside it has the Roller Lash mascara, Porefessional, Benetint, Coralista, Rockateur and They're Real! duo shadow blender. As I mentioned about the previous set, I love Rockateur, but the way it comes in the set, you can mix it with Coralista which adds something different to the tone. Sometimes I like mixing different bronzers with blushers. I think on it's own, Coralista is a bit too orange for me. However added with the other bronzer, it makes a lovely healthy glow to my cheeks that I love!

Benetint was also the first Benefit product that I tried, I love the quality and how easy it was to use. I also like how you can use it for both lips and cheeks. I liked the colour on cheeks and was keen to use it again. However don't feel it suits the tone of my skin anymore. It can still blend well with a bronzer for a different colour again. I also liked to use it a bit on my lips too.


The eyeshadow is fantastic. It can last all day, and I blend the two colours together. I love the roller-brush that comes with it, as I find it really helps to blend the colour well. The colour is gold, but also not too much. I love it and recommend it to anyone to try. If I can use it and feel fabulous, anyone can use it!

Roller Lash is by far - my favourite mascara. You don't need much to build up volume. I'm saving it for when I've finished my other mascaras and can't wait to use it again.

You can choose how much you're willing to spend on a brand too. The people who make Benefit also make Dior and Boujois, so there is something for every budget. Having tried both ranges as well, the items are still great. Dior is obviously the high-end of the brands, but Boujois is definitely fun to start with. It was one of my favourite brands of a teen - loving the blushers, eyeshadows and mascaras.

Although I've focused entirely this post on Benefit, this is not a PR post that I've been paid or asked to do. I actually plan to spotlight on a few more of my favourite brands in the coming weeks.

Let me know if you like this post. I don't write about beauty often as I feel quite clueless in that area, but have been inspired to write a few more as I have been trying new looks on myself recently.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

2017 Reading Challenge & Goal Progress

Just to remind you quickly of my new year resolutions, because I'm not too sure whether I went too deeply into it, while mentioning it in previous posts on 10 things and even more recently on my year review. Here they are:

1. Pass driving test and get car - If I don't achieve much this year, and only do this I will be happy. I've been trying since October 2014. There are much more job opportunities and extra independence with driving! I have only stopped to concentrate on theory test, and most recently while unemployed I just couldn't. I've already started with a new driving instructor, so confident I can achieve this.

2. Go abroad
3. See at least 3 gigs this year
4. Start yoga again
5. Do a charity challenge
6. Pursue creative hobbies
7. Lose weight
8. See more films from my list - I've bought more DVDs and waiting for them to arrive. For more info, read this post here, need I say more!

9. See friends more
10. Walk dogs more
11. Do more in spare time
12. Keep writing
13. Read more - This will be conquered with the following reading challenge.

I've not included a few more personal ones because I'm trying to limit what I put out there a bit more. This blog is not the Jodie blog despite the name. It is about topics of lifestyle and just general opinions. I do occasionally write about fun things I've done such as a recent subcrawl and reviews on things I love.

With all this in mind, I've taken up the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017. I struggle to read even a few books in the year, which is disappointing. I used to love reading so much at school. I loved when you dressed up as your favourite character from a book at school, used to read whole book series at a time, and I just can't wait to get going with the challenge. Here is a picture that sums up what is involved:

I'm now a much slower reader, and I think I will struggle to do the advanced ones, but am keen to get started with the rest of the challenge. I'm already reading Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit by son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer. This covers point 32: a book about an interesting woman. Here are more I think I will achieve:

2. A book that has been on your TBR list for way too long

I don't really have a TBR list, as I tend to get books as I want them, ask for them for birthdays/Christmasses. However, I always wanted to read more classic books, so picked a classic book at random, which happened to be Jane Eyre. I've already purchased this.

3. A book of letters

Not sure whether this is an entire book of letters, but the Colour Purple has been suggested to me. I'm keen to hear more suggestions!

4. An audiobook

My Dad has started listening to audiobook more, and suggested reading Fool me once by Harlan Coben.

6. A book with one of the four seasons in the title

I've come across the book, Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

7. A book that is a story within a story

This was another recommended book and sounds amazing: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

8. A book with multiple authors

Being a big fan of Pretty Little Liars, I had to try this book by star, Shay Mitchell; I always find it interesting when celebrities try other things whether it's singing, dancing or just anything - I'm noisy! I can't wait to hear how the book: Bliss by Shay Mitchell and her friend, Michaela Blaney measures up.

10. A book with a cat on the cover

This one was an easy choice for me as it is one in my recent wishlist. I heard about it recently on the news: A Streetcat named Bob: how one man and his cat found hope on the streets by James Bowen.

11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym

I did not know this, but J.K Rowling used the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith for a few books. I've always wanted to read one of her books as she is a writer I greatly admire. Although I've watched many documentaries about how she shot to fame with the Harry Potter series, I never took to reading the first book as a child and haven't tried since (shocker!). Therefore, I'm going to try The Cuckoo's Calling.

12. A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read

I don't usually take to sci-fi (either in terms of film or books), but the Martian by Andy Weir sounds like a fascinating story. I believe it is also a film too.

13. A book by or about a person has a disability

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby is an inspiring story which is also a movie. This extract from Amazon made me want to know more: "'Locked-in syndrome: paralysed from head to toe, the patient, his mind intact, is imprisoned inside his on body, unable to speak or move. In my case, blinking my left eyelid is my only means of communication.' In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor-in-chief of French 'Elle' and the father of two young children suffered a massive stroke and found himself paralysed and speechless, but entirely conscious, trapped by what doctors call 'locked-in syndrome'."

14. A book involving travel

You can probably tell by the title that this one ticks the box: The Vacationers by Emma Straub.

16. A book that's published in 2017

I found this hard to find out since the new year has just began, but looked up ones due to come out. I'm going to try Never let you go by Chevy Stevens.

19. A book about food

I've heard so much about Lean in 15 by Joe Wicks. I would love to be able to cook, but don't have the patience or skill, so help with making quick healthy meals  might be what I need. I also like the exercise element of it too.

22. A steampunk novel

In honesty, I didn't know what steampunk was and had to look it up here for ideas. This is where I chose the classic: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I've bought this one and just waiting for it to be delivered.

25. A book I loved as a child

I used to read mostly Jacqueline Wilson books. I can't think of specific favourites, so when repurchasing I chose the cheapest I could find: Girls under pressure. It seems to be sold out from music magpie, where I got it!

26. A book by an author from a country you've never visited

This was a lot easier than it might have been for most, as I've only seen a few European cities and Tanzania. I  have chosen to buy Nemesis by norwegian writer, Jo Nesbo.

27. A book with a title that's a character's name

Hausfrau is the main character of Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum.

33. A book set in two different time periods

This one was obvious, but I didn't see it (luckily this was recommended to me). I've seen the film (and loved it), but not got to the book yet: The time traveller's wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

36. A book written by someone you admire

You can't help but admire this lady. I remember hearing about this book, but shameful, I know very little about her journey, and little about her bravery. However I need to read this and share with you: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I can't wait for my book to arrive!

37. A book that's becoming a movie in 2017

Again I needed to look this up, and there was a great selection. However I felt I'd most enjoy reading: Live by night by Dennis Lehave.

That's 21 ideas out of 40. Not bad for just looking through it properly yesterday. I'd love to hear if you have any ideas for the categories specifically:

  • A book from a non-human perspective
  • A book with a month or day of the week in the title
  • A book with a red spine
  • A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
Hope you enjoyed the post, and it encouraged you to get involved in this reading challenge and goals in the new year. If you have any tips for the book challenge, or help achieving my new year's resolutions, I'd be grateful to hear them!