Saturday, 25 June 2016

Angelfall Book Review

There are some books that I just seem to pick up on a whim - and Susan EE's Angelfall was definitely one of them. For somebody who spends her life watching Supernatural on TV, supernatural fiction just really hasn't tended to be my thing and so I tend to stray away from it. I'm not sure what made me pick Angelfall up - a book offer, or a random choice by my mum perhaps - but I do have to say that the whole point of reading a book a week was to step outside of my comfort zone and start to read offerings that I might not read otherwise, and this fits into that perfectly.

Angelfall follows our heroine, Penryn, as she tries to get her sister back after she is taken by the angels that have returned to Earth. In a dystopian Earth that has been torn apart by creatures we previously thought to be calm and protective - Penryn must use a broken angel to her advantage in order to get Paige back before it's too late; and the book is harrowing and sad and beautiful in all the right ways. Maybe it's a throwback to all of those times in school I used to sit in registration and read The Vampire Diaries, but I just feel as though something about this book really appealed to me (so much so that I finished it in a single night.)

Now, this started as an internet phenomenon, and I have to say that it's not a surprise for me to hear that - and as someone who's much better versed in fanfiction than she cares to admit, I have to say that this definitely reads like some good fanfiction; that beautifully written and yet slightly reminiscent of something that you can't quite put your finger on without using the characters original names kind of feeling is definitely something that lingers pretty heavily around this book. With such prominent angels and demons it's hard not to compare this to Supernatural fanfic, but whether that's intentional is something I'm not quite sure of.

All in all - I enjoyed this a lot more than I might have imagined. I felt like it was sort of like a guilty pleasure read, and yet I found myself gripped until the beautiful cliffhanger of an ending, and I'm already out searching to see whether there are other books in the same series. It's not a book that I'm going to go back and read over and over again by any means - and yet I find myself wanting to pass it onto friends and quote it on social media; and isn't that a very modern day way of telling you that I approve?

All in all - it's worth a read, and if you have read this or any others in the series, please let me know your thoughts!

Sammy xo.

Friday, 24 June 2016

New Additions To My Room

You all know that I fought tooth and nail to get myself a perfectly white bedroom - white walls, white furniture, white accessories. This was great when I was only staying there a few days a week, but now I'm back living here full time it all feels a little clinical to be honest with you. So, with that in mind - I decided that I was on a mission to add a little more me to an otherwise perfectly clinical room. So, with a little help from some of my favourite brands, I've finally managed to get it sorted - here's my favourite new additions at the moment.

First up - an unexpected pop of colour came in the form of candles, and one of my top picks definitely comes from Produce Candles. Some of you might know that I'm weirdly in love with apricot yoghurt, and that's exactly what their Peach scent smells like. This is in an adorable printed jar, it adds a pop of colour to my room and although it's fairly expensive at £21.99, it has up to 70 hours burn time and so I'm not complaining. I'm looking at adding some more of their candles to my shelves to add more bursts of colour, my favourites at the moment are Coriander and Wildflower - so if anyone's tried them please let me know what they're like, I have high hopes!

Next up are some prints that you're going to see in a gallery wall post on in the next few weeks - but I thought I'd still pick a few of my favourites out to feature within this post because I'm such a big fan of them. First in my Jollysmith print that says "Can't See The Wood  For The Trees" - this sucker is absolutely huge and adds a gorgeous pop of colour and costs around £15. I'm so excited to get this up and I think it's going to be the main focus of my gallery wall. I also have two other smaller prints that I'm completely in love with - an A4 print from Martha and Hepsie that very accurately says "Great Things Are Going To Happen" and an A3 Thumper quote print from Brambler that's so cute and says "If you're scared just be scarier than whatever is scaring you!" (£17). All of these are on good quality card and it's been easy to find clip frames for them - all of mine are from Dunelm. I can't wait to get my gallery wall up and write a post so you can all see!

Lastly I have a few practical bits from Store which are a shop actually based around by me and so I'm pleased to give them this little shoutout - they sent me a small set of drawers and a wooden drawer and I'm excited to clear everything out and make room for these so I can hoard much more make up than I need. I think these seem really good quality so far - but when I do an updated room post I'm sure that I'll be able to better comment on how they've handled a ridiculous amount of cosmetics.

So that's just a few of my favourite bits to add to my room - I have tons more in the way of pictures, photographs and wall stickers but now it's just a case of actually getting everything up onto the walls - as long as I don't do any serious damage during my DIY attempts, I'll pop a new post up when it's all ready.

Do leave me any of your favourite homeware stores below, in any case!

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies however all opinions are my own - please view my disclaimer for more information.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Lessons From The Last Six Months

I feel like in the last six months I've become a completely different person. I mean not so much of a different person that I no longer stay up until the early hours of the morning watching bad TV series on Netflix, but a different person none the less. It's natural that alongside recovery I learned a whole variety of lessons - but that was just the start. The last six months have been a learning curve - I'm now actually closer to my 25th birthday than my 20th; and I feel as though I've had to grow up a lot in a really small amount of time. So, I thought I'd share some of my lessons from the last six months with you.

1: I'm stronger than I think
I have proved this to myself over and over again within the last six months - I've come through tough times, and I've not backed down in the face of pretty much anything. I've gone through uncomfortable times, sad times and difficult times - and I've survived them all and I've come out the other side stronger than I ever imagined being. Every new experience that I've survived has only served to make me stronger, and I've come out a competent human being (well, almost.)

2: Friends come from the most unlikely of places
Friends have come into my life from twitter, from years past, from dating apps - friends have come into my life and I'm so happy that they have. I finally feel as though for the first time in my adult life I have legitimate friends, friends that I can count on and turn to and speak to about just about anything. I've learned to open up to my friends, and I've learned that there are always people around me willing to give me support. I'd name you all but honestly, I don't need to because you all know exactly who you are - thank you for everything, I appreciate it.

3: My voice is important
This sounds totally full of myself - but if there's one thing I've learned since blogging through my mental illness and my recovery; it's that my voice is important. Every day I am thankful for every difficult post that I've ever written, because I know that it likely helped someone, no matter how slightly. My voice has made, and I hope will continue to make, at least a tiny bit of a difference and that is the lesson I've learned and cherish the most - the fact that my words can have such an impact.

So there's just some of the lessons I've learned over the past 6 months - thanks for every single minute of your support, guys. What lessons have you learned in the last 6 months?

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sexuality, Validity, And What People Need To Understand

Coming out was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do. It seemed so redundant, and yet at the same time I felt as though a lot rested on it at the time - I felt like to live authentically, and as my true self I need to say openly; "hey, I fancy girls." When I did, it all went well - sort of. Mostly, people assumed that by admitting I liked girls, this meant that I exclusively liked girls. At the time, it was easier to just agree that this was the box that I fit into - maybe I did exclusively like girls? Maybe everything had just been building up to this point here and now I was living as I was meant to be? As it was, I let it slide. I didn't know what I'd correct them to even if I'd wanted to correct them and I so I accepted my label as a lesbian and moved forward without giving it much though.

Until suddenly I didn't feel like a lesbian anymore - I was interested in men, and women, and I was torn between the two. I didn't feel like bisexual fit, I didn't feel straight nor lesbian - so where did that leave me? Pansexual fit - I fall in love with people irregardless of gender - and yet this was something people didn't seem to understand.

"But you're seeing a boy now, right? So it was just a phase?"
"Oh I assumed you were straight, I didn't know you'd had a girlfriend!"
"But you'll likely end up with a boy in the end right?"

People say things like the phrases above without realising how derogatory they're being to my sexuality, how invalidating that this is to me and everyone else who falls within the less typically accepted brackets of the LGBTQA+. This heteronormative way of thinking - that if we see someone with a member of the opposite sex they must be straight, or if nobody explicitly tells us otherwise they must be - but that isn't how the world works. Sexuality is fluid for a lot of people, for a lot more people than we might think on the whole, and this attitude to sexuality is damaging in more ways than one.

We are not straight until we have had sex with a member of our own gender, or another gender, in the same way as we are not asexual until we lose our virginity - sexuality exists within us and it's something we'll explore when we're older; it's not something that is created dependent on our experiences with different genders. We need to stop putting onto children at a young age that the normal sexuality for them is straight - because there is no normal sexuality; it's tailored personally for each person, it's slightly different for each human being and these attitudes, or rather a change in these attitudes, could change many people's lives for the better.

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Trying Something New With The Stockroom

To those of you who told me the masturbation posts were a bit much - you're probably going to want to click off this at the moment; normal business will be resumed tomorrow (probably) but this one definitely isn't going to be one for you. Now that the disclaimer is over, let's talk sex toys. Well not toys so much as accessories - because in the words of Rihanna; "sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me" and so on and so forth. I'm always eager to branch out and so when The Stockroom offered to send me some goodies to add to my toy collection, there was no way that I was going to turn it down.

So - we settled on some bits and pieces that were the most inclusive, the ones that most people were likely to be brave enough to add to their collection. So let's start with my favourite, and the ever popular Riding Crop ($12.93). This is pretty basic as crops go - the looped end means that it makes an impressive swish noise, but it's wide enough that the sting isn't too intense, nor does it leave too much of a mark unless you get really out of hand with it. I will say though, it has some downfalls - you can't travel with it, if that's your jam, as we've tried to put this in just about every bag that I own and we can't fit it in any at all - so it's definitely a stay at home sort of piece; however that's not enough to put me off. In addition to this, as it has quite a short length to the actually leather piece that you want to be hit with, you've got to be pretty careful not to be hit with the actually cane piece; fine if you're into that and looking for the sensation, but a bit of a shock if you're expected a sting and it's replaced with a completely different feeling altogether. A good starter crop, as long as you're careful and not planning to massively travel round with it.

The other two items fit together to form an experience of sorts - a padded blindfold ($18) and a wartenberg pinwheel ($9.50). After digging the pinwheel out of a box, and then a bag - I found out the hard way that although this isn't sharp enough to break the skin, if you accidentally jab it into your fingers when you're not expecting it, it's less than pleasant - so, word to the wise, it comes with a tough sheath to put it in for a reason. That aside, the blindfold is comfortable, and when you add in the sensation of the pinwheel, it's enough to feel as though it's an extra added sensation, without actually hurting to any major degree. This is definitely one that's scarier that it looks - but having tried it just about everywhere from boobs, to the soles of feet, to backs; there's nowhere that feels so painful that you wouldn't do it again (it does tickle the soles of your feet though).

So all in all - The Stockroom actually really impressed me. Their shipping and customer service was fabulous and they were really helpful when we talked about what kind of things I was interested in and how they would appeal to a wider audience and generally? I'd say give it a go. It's cheap enough that if you don't like what you tried it's no big deal, and hey - you might just find your new favourite thing.

Sammy xo.
Contains PR samples/items gifted to me by companies however all opinions are my own - please view my disclaimer for more information.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Making A Difference

I guess when I look at the rest of my life, I only have one really big goal - and it's to make a difference. I've wanted to do something selfless and worthwhile for a fairly long time now - and so I decided to set up an event. Some of you will already know about #LivHelps, you might already be coming, but in case you don't - here's a rundown of what the event will be.

The event is a blogger event like you'd expect, only on the day you'll have plenty of chances to learn how you can help those around you in the Liverpool area. On August 20th, 40 bloggers will be getting together and although we'll have fun, hang out and take countless selfies - it's going to be more than that; it's going to be an event focused on giving back, something I think all of us are keen to do at least on a small level.

So here's your chance - if you're interested in making a difference and you can get to Liverpool on August 20th, leave your email address and I'll get the information over to you as soon as possible.

Look forward to seeing you!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Royal Afternoon Tea at Browns

My family have this thing about afternoon tea. Ever since I was a teenager, all of my aunties and cousins (well, most of us ladies in any case, the men are more than welcome but never seem to take us up on the offer...) go out every few months for a different afternoon tea. It's mostly an excuse to gossip about what's happening in our lives and have a few glasses of bubbly but, irregardless, I'm definitely no stranger at all to afternoon tea. So, when Browns in Liverpool invited me (and by extension my mother) over to try their Royal Afternoon Tea for the Queen's Birthday - I jumped at the chance; any excuse to add another restaurant to my ever growing list of places that I've tried (I should have an elaborate rating system at this point).

Now, not unusually for Liverpool, when we got there it was absolutely chucking it down - and so although we'd planned to walk around the shops, it didn't work out quite like this and so, instead, I decided to try my luck and turn up half an hour earlier than the slot that we'd booked. I knew I was being a bit of an annoying chancer, I've worked as a waitress and I get how frustrating people like me can be when you're busy, but the staff were really pleasant and understanding and wasted absolutely no time seating us - it seems like something tiny, but we were really early and the weather was terrible, so we really appreciated it. Off to a good start.

One of the bonuses of the Royal Afternoon Tea vs. the regular one is that you get a British Royal cocktail as well as your hot drink - we opted to have these first and have our tea with our cake afterwards and so they brought these over to us whilst we waited for our food. The British Royal is the perfect name for such a delicately flavoured, really light drink - this is vodka with rosehip and rhubarb cordial and apple then all topped with prosecco and topped with blackberries. These were the perfect, clean tasting start to the meal and we couldn't wait to get stuck in to the actual food part of the afternoon tea.

We started off with the light, brioche buns that are in place of the traditional finger sandwiches - filled with delightful fillings such as coronation chicken, cream cheese and salmon and egg mayonnaise, these are light, but tasty and leave plenty of room for the scones. We had two plain scones, and two fruit scones (I took the plain ones as I fully believe that raisins shouldn't be cooked or baked) with jam and cream, and then it was time for the cakes. Oh, the cakes. From red velvet sponge, to salted caramel profiteroles, to earl grey and lemon tea sponge and finally (and probably our favourite out of all of the desserts) were tiny pots filled with a creme brulee type filling topped with pimms jelly. Everything was floral and tasted amazing whilst still tasting subtle and not too overwhelming.

Not only was the food amazing, but so was the atmosphere, and the staff were friendly with everyone around which is always a really good thing in my opinion. Generally, we had an amazing afternoon at Browns, their afternoon tea was one of the best I've tried so far, and I absolutely can't wait to go back!

Where are your favourite places for afternoon tea?

Sammy xo.
Contains a meal provided for PR purposes however all opinions are my own - please view my disclaimer for more information.