Sunday, 22 September 2013

Reflections of Summer

Photo source:
So an apology is a good thing to start this post with. As you know I haven't blogged in quite some time, it's been nearly 3 weeks to be exact and I know that this is terrible. I started college/sixth-form/school/what ever you want to call non-compulsory education earlier this month and since then I have been like one of those wind-up toys, but the difference being I never came to a stop. I have been so busy with school work and school in general that my blog has suffered severely. So I am sorry about that and I'm making a serious effort to make sure that I don't let time pass for so long before I post again. So now you know that I'm alive, still breathing and healthy, I'll proceed with my post!
I thought I'd do a different style of post today and sway more towards lifestyle. I've touched upon lifestyle before but I thought that it would be nice to mix things up a little - hence the different style of blog post! Although I do LOVE writing about fashion & beauty, I also enjoy being a little self-centered now and again by writing lifestyle posts - after all that's why we all like reading them, right? We find out more about the wonderful strangers behind the screens of our much loved blogs! Today's little lifestyle instalment will be focused on my summer, which came to a screeching halt with the re-start of another school term.....
  There's a reason we all love summer, we all take that well needed break away from our jobs / workplace / school and finally do the impossible - relax (well at least we can try). Whether we succeed in reaching ultimate relaxation depends very much on the individual but if there's one thing that we all have in common it's the view that summer is fantastic. I don't know one person who doesn't like summer. Everything is happier: the skies are blue, the beaches become used and everyone seems to be glowing from the Vitamin D (or at the very least glowing with spray tans.) I've mentioned countless times that I've been busy this summer which is sadly why there haven't been as many blog posts published as I would've liked BUT in my fractional moments of freedom I've been enjoying my free time. I've had time to discover new music, read books and finish them, learn to cook actual meals (not just ready meals and frozen food, I'm talking saucepan, chopping board and an apron - I meant business), watch TV (a luxury I was not used to after having to revise for months) and take a moment to appreciate the small things in life, like really really good ice cream.  So, I'm going to share my top summer music finds and my most loved/hated books that I read this summer and what films I watched and far  as the ice cream goes, you can't go wrong with a good old soft ice cream shop!

Image taken from Google Images

What I Listened To / My Summer Playlist

Before I begin listing the music I loved this summer, I'll add a warning - my music taste is quite odd & has a mixture of everything...Here it is;

(In no particular order)
1. Waiting Game & Warm Water by Banks - I discovered Banks quite recently and have been loving her. I literally know no singers that sound anything like Banks and that's part of the charm. Love, love, love her music. 
2. Showstopper by Brandon and Leah - I am a massive Kardashian fan. If you don't know who the Kardashians are I have to question where you've been living because even if it was inside a cave, you would've heard rumblings about the Kardashians at some point. 'Kim Kardashian is pregnant', 'Kim Kardashian has gone into labour', 'Kim has had her baby!', all of these have been headlines in the news everywhere.  What have the Kardashians got to do with this tune? Well, I discovered the musical duo Brandon and Leah when I researched the opening tune of 'Kourtney and Kim Take Miami' (yes, that's sad I know, move on..). Anyway, I found out that the song was none other than Showstopper by Brandon and Leah, ever since it's been music to my ears - literally. 
3. Wings by Birdy - Aaaah Birdy! I was so excited when I heard that she has a new album coming out soon and even more so when I discovered this new song on YouTube. I love Birdy's music, she's an example of a new generation of pure talent and is literally amaze. 
4. Call It What You Want by Foster The People - I have one word for this song - happy. Every fibre of my body literally dances when this plays, you can't not move your body when this is on. In fact I challenge you not do move...try it. I failed. 
5. Kill Of The Night by Gin Wigmore - Gin Wigmore's voice is original and combined with the beat of this song they make a very good tune. This won't be to everyone's taste admittedly but I'm a fan. 
6. The Wire by HAIM - HAIM is one of my favourite summer discoveries. I discovered the band on Guardian's website on their Band of The Day page (which by the way is great for discovering new, weird and crazy bands/artists). From the moment I clicked play on the YouTube button I loved them. They have an 80's vibe which explains why I like their sound because I'm also a fan of 80's music on the whole. The Wire is an upbeat and lively song which has been replayed many, many times by moi this summer holiday.  
7. I Love It by Icona Pop - 'I don't care, I love it!'
8. Pilgrim by MO - On a YouTube hunt for new music I came across 'Pilgrim' by MO. I liked the weird genius of her music and haven't been able to stop listening to it ever since..Thanks to YouTube for the suggestion! 
9. Best Song Ever by One Direction - Before you sigh / roll your eyes / pass any sort of 'anti-1D' vibe, please give this song a chance. Maybe I love Zayn Malik's gorgeous hair (and face) a little too much and Harry Style's cheeky smile more than their music but I can't deny that their songs are fun, upbeat and put a smile across my face. I also can't deny that this song has been on replay since I first heard it.....
10. Bros by Wolf Alice - I have nothing but praise and love for this song. Wolf Alice is awesome. Amen. 
11. Melody Calling by The Vaccines - This isn't my favourite Vaccines song but it's definitely another great track from The Vaccines. 'Melody Calling' is their new song and it's had a spot on my playlist from the first listen. 
12. Diane Young by Vampire Weekend - Truly an awesome song, well I'm a fan anyway...
13. Julian by Say Lou Lou - Say Lou Lou is a brand new summer discovery of mine. I love the soft, relaxing melody and singing to this song. It's definitely one of those 'love/hate' songs, you'll either love it or hate it - either way it's worth a listen. 
14. Baby I by Ariana Grande - I knew of Ariana Grande through my little sister who used to watch Nickledeon all the time, watching the popular programme 'Victorious'. When I heard her song on the radio I instantly became a fan. She is literally like a mini Mariah Carey hitting high notes you never thought were possible and has genuine singing talent. 
15. Natalie by Bruno Mars - Another awesome album from Bruno Mars, 'Unorthodox Jukebox'. The album is stuffed with amazing tracks, there's not one song on there that I dislike. 'Natalie' is my all time favourite though.
16. Burn by Ellie Goulding - Fantastic song and gives summer the party vibe! 
17. Holy Grail by JAY Z and Justin Timberlake - I have to admit that JAY Z isn't usually my music taste but combined with Justin Timberlake they made an awesome song. I first heard this on the radio and loved it. I like the mash-up feeling of the song including snippets of Nirvana's 'We're all just entertainers'. 
18. She's A Riot by The Jungle Giants - LOVE - enough said. 
19. Acapella by Karmin - I love the words of this song, sort of relatable, fun and just overall a wicked song. 
20. Roar by Katy Perry - I'd begun to wonder where Katy Perry had gone and then this single came out...Let's just say I've repeated it countless times and I'm so excited about the release of her new album later this year. More amazing music from Katy Perry to come. 
21. Royals by Lorde - TALENT, TALENT, AND MORE TALENT. When I found out that Lorde was my age I was gobsmacked. Her music is so so good and since discovering it earlier in July I've been a MASSIVE fan. 'Royals' is my favourite song but all her songs are so good, it's a close call. 
22. Woodland by The Paper Kites - Recommended by a very close friend of mine, The Paper Kite's music has scored a spot on my playlist ever since. Their music is simply relaxing, up-beat and soothing. One of my favourite bands for sure. 
23. Beach by San Cisco - San Cisco's music is genius, 'Beach' is one of their newest songs and I simply adore it. What's not to love? 'Beach' also seemed summer-themed and appropriate. 
24. Another Love by Tom Odell - Probably not a song that I'd stick on for the 'feel-good' factor but rather to listen to some pure, musical talent. Tom Odell's music is so empowering and emotive you can't not love him. 'Another Love' is just one of the songs I've been loving of his this summer. 
25. And finally, if you're not already snoring, last but by no means least, the final track I've loved this summer is - Samson by V V Brown - I'd heard that V V Brown had released a new song and I was intrigued, searched google and instantly loved this track. 

What I Turned The Pages To / My Summer Reading List

Alongside the titles that I've read during summer I've written my thoughts and reactions along with my personal rating /5 stars. These comments aren't reviews as such but rather brief commentaries on whether I liked the book, didn't like the book and why.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I am ashamed to say that I watched the film before I read the book. I absolutely loved the film, despite what some critics may say, I thought that it was fantastic. I do, however, think that the book was even better than the film. F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing is so captivating it is pure masterpiece. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it's one of the best books I have ever read. I loved the film, its storyline and the characters but the film is only an interpretation of Fitzgerald's wondrous writing. This is a must-read classic.
STARS: *****
2. Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger - I never read 'The Devil Wears Prada' but I  certainly watched it (and re-watched it)! The film is one of my all time favourites and when I heard that Weisberger had released a sequel I was a little nervous that it wouldn't live up to her first, famous and film produced novel. I have to say that I was quite disappointed. Firstly, the title suggests that there is 'Revenge', I failed to find that aspect. There were hints of 'revenge' but to name a book 'Revenge Wears Prada' I expected it to contain gripping revenge-based plots and schemes...Maybe I was too ambitious with my expectations from a title  but this wasn't the only thing that disappointed me about the book. The reason that I love 'The Devil Wear Prada' as a film (as I said I can't judge it as a book because I've never read it but I'm pretty sure their plots must be very similar) is the involvement of Runaway Magazine's devilish editor, Miranda. Harsh and often thought to be based around Vogue's editor, Anna Wintour, I love the film due to its fashion themed story. However, due to Andy leaving the magazine in the first novel/film, the sequel tracks Andy's life 10 years after her leaving the magazine. I found the book was lacking a proper story-line and it was almost like reading Andy's autobiography/diary rather than reading a fun-filled, revenge-stuffed book. The book wasn't terrible and I can see how some may like it but in comparison to such her fantastically structured story, 'The Devil Wears Prada', this book just doesn't come close.
STARS: ***
PS: If you're wondering why the book isn't in the picture it's because shortly after reading it I donated it to charity...
3. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple - There's a definite trend in literature for  epistolary novels. Think 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' or 'Dracula', both of these are novels are written in the epistolary style. 'Where'd You Go Bernadette' has jumped on the band wagon and joined the recent hype of epistolary novels. Now, I will stop saying epistolary novels and get on with my point. I was not a massive fan of the style of writing. For me, personally, I found it hard in the beginning to get a sense of character from the style of writing which is separated with e-mails, letters and narration. Each character in this novel has their own voice and their own way of communicating with the reader whether it's through getting an insight into their conversation, e-mails, letters or through narration. I think the novel is clever and light-hearted and it's based around a mis-understood genius, Bernadette. Like I mentioned above, I did find the style hard to get into at first but after a while I got used to it and quite enjoyed the book. It was great for light reading and was a page-turner.
STARS: ****
4. The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend - One hundred and forty five pages later I shut this book and never returned to it. In the one hundred and forty five pages that I read you'd have thought that something other than 'the woman', a.k.a, Eva climbing into bed, would have happened. The story lacked any real content and humour despite all the glowing quotes such as 'I laughed until I cried'. There's no doubt that Sue Townsend is an incredible author with undoubtedly funny books such as her 'Adrian Mole' stories, but I was super disappointed with this. I was so bored I couldn't continue. Maybe it gets better and has a story line somewhere as the novel goes on but I was wasting time and frankly fed up of reading this book!
5. Gone Girl by Rhondda Byrne - Ok, so the hype that surrounded this book was unbelievable. I finally gave in and picked up my own copy. I got half-way through this book and couldn't bear it any longer - I shut it for good. I know a lot of you will disagree with me here but this book was boring and extremely disturbing. The idea that surrounded it was creepy, surreal and twisted. I know this was part of Byrne's goal, to make the characters a mystery - similarly the plot, but I lost patience. It wasn't my cup of tea - sorry!
(Also no picture because I gave this book away a.s.a.p - clutter!)

What I Watched / My Summer DVD List

1. Tangled - It was my first time of watching Tangled this summer and I have to say it's now one of my favourite films. It's a Disney film so I already instantly liked it - we all love a happily ever after, right? This film is no different! Full of action, humour and, of course, many many songs you can sing-a-long to - this film was re-watched many times this summer. If you haven't already seen it - you must!
Rating: *****
2. UP - I know that this is another children's Disney film but in my view, you're never too old for Disney. I wasn't sure that I was going to like this film as it started out to be quite sad but this film is like the James Bond of Disney - full of action! The old man (also known as Mr Fredricson) turns out to be quite an adventure seeker and with the help of a boy, a bird and a dog, the plot quickly becomes very action-packed. I really love this film - it's funny and sort-of romantic (watch it and you'll know what I mean). 
Rating: *****

And there you have it, my reflections of summer. Overall, it was pretty good.

Au revoir summer, until next time!

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