Small business Christmas Gift Guide 2020

I couldn’t do a 2020 Christmas gift guide without including one for small businesses. There a few small businesses that I have come across this year, and I want to share them with you. They haven’t all had an order from me yet but they caught my eye and are saved in my bookmarks, which eans they deserve a mention in my eyes.

Dorkfacecreates

Dorkfacecreates is the owned by Jemma. She has been running her business now for 6 years and her products are just so adorable. I have recently placed an order and cannot wait to receive them. She sells pins, notebooks, cards, bookmarks, washi tape and so much more. These are perfect little stocking stuffers. @dorkfacecreates is her Instagram

Thriftbox UK

Next up we have Thriftbox UK. I found them while scrolling through the Instagram discovery page. It is owned by a “Yorkshire based cat lady” by the name of Lauren. Just a heads up, some of her products are not child friendly, however, there is something for everyone. From cups, to tree decorations, to cards. She has a shop full of treats just waiting for you! You can find her at @thriftboxuk on Instagram.

Fat Baby Soaps

Do you have someone in your life that loves a bit of a pamper session? Then head over to Fat Baby Soaps. I especially love the cute little bubble bars. You can’t go wrong with smellies at Christmas. I personally love getting soaps and bath bombs. To find out more about their new products head over to @fatbabysoaps on Instagram.

Oh Luna Creates

Pretty stationary is a weakness of mine and Oh Luna Creates has some great pieces. Lisa is the owner, and she runs Oh Luna Creates from sunny Manchester. They are another local business to me and it makes me proud to be a northerner. You can find them at @Ohlunacreates on Instagram.

The Wily Fox

The Wily Fox has a bunch of the cutest vintage items. Retro VHS lights , vintage disney cups and even a Burn Book from mean girls. Looking at these items takes me back to my childhood and I ain’t mad about it. I haven’t seen any other small business like it. Head over to @wilyfoxvintage for more information and products.

Q and Frey

Q and Frey is a new clothing business that launched this year. It is owned by the lovely Jessica (who is also an amazing Make-up artist). At the moment they have a range of socks, tie dye t-shirts and sweaters.

They have a new burnt line coming at the end of November, which I am really excited to see. You can also find @QandFrey on Instagram.

Now these small businesses are just a few that have caught my eye. I believe in supporting small businesses where I can, especially during these crazy pandemic ridden times. If you have any other business you want to recommend feel free to leave a comment with a link to their website. I want to buy from as many small business as I can, when I can.

Dont forget to also check out my high street Christmas Gift Guide.

xoxo

Untitled Poem

I wrote this back inNovember 2016. It was written when i was feeling very raw and is still an untitled poem. It’s more like a stream of consciousness that makes very little sense but it helped to write it down.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

The Darkness has fallen. 

Suddenly I awake from my slumber and my dreams are a distant memory.

Wide awake, ideas buzzing around my mind like bees in a hive. No way can i sleep untill they are freed.

I open my journal and begin to write….

Mid sentence * Have I brushed my teeth? Did I turn the lights off? Have I turned the radiator off in the livingroom* 

I tell myselfI have but the miggling thoughts are still there.

*I have to get up and check*

I throw on my dressing gown, flick on the light switches and check..  * I knew I had, why did i have to check?*

I climb back in to bed and turn to switch the light off 

*Damn it, if i turn the light off with this switch the other two switches will be the opposite way*

*forget it..it will be fine*

…but it isn’t…

I try to close my eyes and drift off but it taunts me. I can’t leave it like that.

I get up again and faff about with the switches until the are all the same way.  On, off, on, off. It’s like a disco in my room. 

Finally I can get back in to bed. I start to drift off, back in to a dream land I go.

*Ha ha ha, no, no, no* a voice whispers. A brick wall appears and I hit it full force. I am awake again. 

*Did i set my alarm? Is the time on my phone right?*

I have to make sure. I grab my phone from my bedside table and make sure my phone is showing the correct time and my alarm is set.

*Is that everything?…. Yes*

I hear the hum of traffic outside and the cackling laughter of all the drunk students.. I feel tired again..calm. 

I pull my blanket over me, wrap myself up like a caterpillar in a chrysalis and float off on a cloud back to a dream land for a few hours, where nothing is real and everything is possible.

 

Feature Photo by Tim Grundtner from Pexels

You can find my other poems here

Bookish Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

The Story

Today I bring you a bookish review of Fable by Adrienne Young. Fable is a seventeen year old girl, who was abandoned by her father four years prior to us meeting her. She was left alone, on the Island of Jevalis, after her mother died when their boat sank. Jevalis is full of dredgers and thieves and she has nobody in her life that she can trust. She spends her days diving for Pyre that she sells to traders on the docks in exchange for copper.

For the past few years Fable has been trading with the helmsman of The Marigold, a young man by the name of West. She has been saving the copper she receives from trades in order to buy her passage off Jeval. The story truly begins when she buys passage off Jeval so she can see her dad again.

Fable by Adrienne Young

What I liked

Well there are many things that I liked. In fact, there was nothing about Fable that I didn’t like other than the fact that it had to end. Fable is only seventeen but has endured a lot in her short life. She lost her mum at a young age and was abandoned by her father, left to fend for herself at a time when she needed support. Having spent four years dredging for pyre and gemstones and trading them for copper, she finally had enough to buy passage off Jeval to be with her father. Clearly she is strong, determined, focused and very capable but there is something mising in her life that she hopes to find from her father.

The crew we meet on The Marigold are a secretive bunch, but even from the start I liked them. They were wary of Fable because being a liar and a thief was more common than finding someone who is loyal and trustworthy.

Characters

Saint is not a character I like but in some strange way I can understand why he did what he did and why he is the way he is. As the story unfolds you find out little bits about his past but there is still a lot we have to find out.

Willa is a feisty young woman but it’s clear she has a good heart. Hamish is very straight laced and practical but we all need a friend like that dont we?

I have a soft spot for Paj and Auster. They’re relationship is just so pure. Auster is probably one of my favourite characters.

Finally we have West. The chemistry between him and Fable is obvious from the beginning (well to me anyway) but even when he opens up i was left with a feeling that he’s still hiding something from Fable. I want to like him.. But something is just putting me off.

The relationships that are formed seem natural, not forced for the sake of the story if that makes sense? I was taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It made me question everything and every one but i enjoyed every minute.

Final Thoughts

I love Adrienne’s style of writing. It is hard to explain but she has the ability to grab you and keep you hooked from the first page. I read the book in one sitting and the cliff hanger just makes me more excited to read the next one. Namesake is due to be realeased March 16th 2021. Adrienne’s other books have been added to my wish list and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Fable gets 5 Stars from me! 100% recommend. You will not regret it.

Fable can be purchased from Book Depository, Amazon and Waterstones.

All my other reviews can be found here

xoxo

Christmas Gift Ideas 2020

Christmas gift ideas… three words i don’t look forward to hearing, but that time of year has come around once again. We are all thinking about what gifts to get for our loved ones and this can be even harder to do when you have no idea what to get them. All non essential shops are closing due to lockdown 2.0, so we are all going to have to do more of our Christmas shopping online. Whether you have a large or small budget, hopefully this list will help.

Christmas Gift ideas on a budget

Times are hard for so many of us and we don’t all have a lot of spare cash to splurge on expensive gifts. Personally I would prefer a carefully selected, or handmade gift to an overly expensive gift tat has had no thought put in to it.

First up we have something for those with a sweet tooth. Strawberry Pencils* This is also a throwback to my childhood that I just couldn’t leave out. If you have never experienced strawberry Pencils what have you been doing with your life?

Fini Strawberry Pencils
Blueberry Fini

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the chocolate lovers out there. My absolute favourite at the moment is Lindor Chocolate. Personally, I love the white chocolate Lindor*, however, they do have a wide vaiety of different flavours that will suit everyone. They also have Milk Chocolate, Dark, Mint Strawberries & Cream, Orange, Coconut and salted Caramel. Price: £3.50 per box

I use Amazon for a lot of my purchase and with Amazon Prime I can get most orders the next working day, even during the pandemic. I would recommend purchasing prime if you don’t already have it.

Skin Care and Beauty

The beauty industry is full of Skincare and makeup brands with a wide range of prices and it’s difficult to know what brand is best. You don’t always have to go for the most expensive product to get the best quality. Some of my favourite brands are BH Cosmetics, Milani, Revolution Beauty ( Previously Makeup Revolution), and The Ordinary. Beauty Bay is a great place to find afforadable skin care and makeup as well as some higher end products.

My recommendations are:

  • The Body Shop Aloe Cleanser (£8.50), Toner (£8.50) and Moisturiser(£14.00). My rep is Skin Deep Beauty base but you can purchase them online or in store as well.. There are deals on all the time.
  • The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid (£5.95), Mandelic Acid (£5.75) and Retinoid (£4.95).
  • BPerfect Carnival Palette. Retails for £40.00

For the men

Let’s not overlook the men in our lives. From my personal experience I find that there are notoriously hard to buy for, however, I ‘ve found a few products that never fail.

First up we have the old reliable Lynx Gift set. Boots always do great offers around Christmas time with their 3 for 2 on hundreds of products.

If you are on a budget gift sets are the perfect option. My dads favourite was always Lynx Africa. The current price is £2.80 on sale, however these usually retail for around £5-£6.

For those with a slightly bigger budget you can’t go wrong with a nice Eau de Toilet like Armani Code.

I hope this helps in some way. Just remember, it really is the thought that counts and not how much you spend. For those that like hand made gifts keep your eyes peeled for the small business Christmas gift guide coming next week.

xoxo

*Some of the links provided are affiliate links. if you use the links to make any purchases I do receive a small commission. *

Secret Society by Hannah Jennings: Bookish Reviews

The Premise

Secret Society is a paranormal romance that follows the story of a young wolf shape shifter who is the Alpha of a local wolf pack. They are part of a secret society that coexist alongside humans. Blaise is a strong warrior, however, at night she is haunted by nightmares of her families death. She was shunned by them for being different but she felt guilty that they were killed and she was left alive. Although she has a pack Blaise is quite a solitary person and doesn’t open up to anybody.

There are some that think that Alphas should be males, which means Blaise has a lot to prove. The Council are sexist and old fashioned and don’t believe Blaise should be an Alpha. They watch her every move and are quick to pull her up when she makes a mistake. When one of her pack betrays her, it marks the beginning of the fight to save the rest of her pack. An Alpha from a rival pack turns up wanting to take over Blaise’s territory. Jackson is a vicious wolf, hungry for power and will do anything to get it.

What I Liked

The story was written in the first person and had a good pace. Hannah’s writing draws the reader in and takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Blaise is very protective of those close to her and clearly cares about herfriends but finds it difficult to express this. She is the Alpha and feels like she has to be the strong one.

Kayle is a fallen angel and Blaise’s mate. He is fiercely protective of Blaise and very secretive. The dynamic between Kayle and Blaise is interesting. They want to protect each other but they are also keep secrets from each other and are quite volatile at times.

Vlad was probably my favourite character. He is witty, intelligent and very charasmatic hybreed. A hybreed is different to a hybrid. Vlad used to be human but was bitten by a vampire. Before fully transforming he was then bitten by a wolf, hense the name Hybreed If blaise didn’t have kayle I think that Vlad would have been great for her. It was clear that he had a soft spot for her and was very protective of her. In fact when they met he was protecting her from hunters. He has his own demons and dramas that are unveiled as the story progresses.

Even though it was only brief, we were introduced to different species. In this world we have mermaids, wolves, vampires, pyros, witches, demons, ghosts, hybrids, hybreeds and more.

Overall thoughts

There’s alot about the book that I enjoyed, however, at times I found it difficult to like Blaise. She is a strong character, but she came across as quite cold and harsh at times. Blaise is a different breed of shapeshifter. She can also change in to a bird, and can read minds. it is never explained how she came to be what she is when her family are jus wolves. The story is missing that bit of depth. You’re left wondering how she became a hybrid shape shifter. Despite this, I would read secret society again and I would recommend it.

Overall I give Secret Society a 4* rating.

You can purchase Secret Society Here. Check out my other reviews here

xoxo

I was gifted this book by Pegasus Publishing in exchange for an honest review, however all opinions are my own. Some links are affiliates, which means I get a small commission if you purchase through them.

Box of Favours: The Perfect Gift

What is Box of Favours?

Box of favours is the gift that keeps on giving. The box contains fifteen cards that can be exchanged for favours. Ten of the cards have favours already written on them and five are left blank for you to complete yourself.

The Beginning

The company was founded when Ben was living in London with a flatmate who had just got a new job as a school teacher. She was always stressed out and he didn’t know what to get her forr her birthday. He asked if she wanted to go for some food but she said she didn’t have time and relled off a list of tasks she had to complete. After going away and thinking about he he decided to make a small box full of cards with favours written on them. His friend was brought to tears when she read through the cards. Ben decided to that he wanted others to feel how his friend had felt and so.. Box of Favours was born.

The Contract

The contract made me smile. “I understand that by not delivering a favour as requested, I will not only be a miserable sod but also in breach of this contract and shall be punished accordingly” It puts a fun, light hearted spin on the idea of a contract, which adds to the quirky nature of the gift. All favours must be completed within a year, however, only one can be redeemed each day. I love this idea and 2020 has been an awful year with COVID changing our lives. A gift like this can be a great way to cheer up a loved on.

You can gift this to another person to use or you can use it yourself and sign up to do fifteen favours for a loved one. Grab you Box of favours here for £9.99. You wont regret it. I will be gifting this to my mum.

Box of Favours will be donating $1 to the charity “One Tree Planted” for every box sold.

Do you have any fun gift ideas for family and friends this Christmas?

This box was gifted to me in exchange for a review, however all my opinions are my own.

Bookish Reviews: Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

I received Star Daughter as part of my Fairyloot August Subscription box.

Synopsis

If the night sky holds many secrets, it holds Sheetal Mistry’s secret the closest. A secret that explains why her hair is the silver of starlight, or why some nights the stars call Sheetal by name.

Stars like her mother, who returned to her place in the constellation Pushya years ago. Since that day, Sheetal has been forced to hide.

But as her seventeenth birthday draws near, the pull from the sky is growing stronger. So strong that Sheetal loses control, and a flare of starfire burns her human father—an injury only a full star’s blood can heal.

Sheetal has no choice but to answer the starsong and ascend to the sky. But her celestial family has summoned her for a reason: to act as their human champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of heavens.

Desperate to save her father, Sheetal agrees. But nothing could have prepared Sheetal to face the stars’ dark history—or the forces that are working to shut the gate between the realms for good.

My Thoughts

Okay so this the first book I have read in a long time and was my introduction back in to the world of books and I have very mixed feelings. I love Shveta’s way of writing. She knows how to capture the audience and I love her writing style.

Star Daughter is a slow starter but don’t let that put you off. The pace does build and it takes you in to an amazing fantasy world full of elegance and mystery.

Sheetal is the kind of protaganist you really get behind and want to succeed, although at times I fould myself shouting internally at some of the decisions she made. My favourite aspect of the book has to be the relationship between Sheetal and her best friend Minal. Minal is funny, scarcastic, really sweet and fiercely loyal but she will not hesitate to put Sheetal in her place whe she has to.

The villain of the story isn’t all that easy to pin point. There is one charater, Rati, who is clearly evil, however, I grew to really dislike Sheetal’s Nani ( again, you will find out why if you read the book. Don’t want to give too much away).

Final Thoughts

Overall I would give Star Daughter a 4 out of 5. I think Shveta is a great story teller and I enjoyed how she mixed, religion however the ending was a bit of a let down. Without giving too much away, the relationship with Dev just didn’t feel like the right choice.

I received this book in my August Fairyloot Subscirption. if you would like to find out more about fairyloot and their subscription boxes head over to my August Review and check out their website.

Little Mix: The Search Episode 2 – Mixed Group

I find myself looking forward to relaxing on an evening and watching this show because it really does have a totally different vibe to other talent shows. Although you know the contestants are being judged it does feel a lot less formal and mean. The feedback given is constructive.

Personally, I feel mixed band groups are probably the hardest to put together. Not only have you got to see chemistry between the members but you have to have vocals that compliment each other in a band, which i think would be more difficult to find when matching males and females together. Maybe I’m wrong.  But hey ho there is my opinion.

The Contestants

As expected we saw some amazing voices but not all of them would fit well within a band. For the most part I agreed with the decisions made by Little Mix. Some of the vocals didn’t really match the people they’d already put through, and a few just seemed to have weaker voices that maybe would have got lost a bit in a group.

One person that didn’t get through that really tugged on the old heart strings was Promise.

Promise: little Mix: The Search

Promise was a 25 year old  husband and a father who had a really good performance. He was energetic, fun, he rapped and just had an overal great stage presence. Jade and Perry felt that the vocals weren’t there so said no. I really did feel for him because I felt. Maybe his vocals could have been worked on and they lost out on a great addition to a mixed group.

The Rehearsals

During the rehearsal stage it was evident that some of the contestants didn’t really fit well together. Not sure if this was down to the way it was edited though.

I was so sad to see Janethan go at this point because in the brief clip of his audition that I heard I just loved the tone of his voice.

The Concert Audition

For the final. Stage the group sang Cake by the Ocean by DNCE and they did not disappoint. Watching them all together was great and if it were down to me I would have put them all through( good job it wasn’t) . They sang, danced and performed their hearts out. You could just see that they all had fun on stage and they smashed it.

Concert Audition:  from. Left to right:Billy&Louie, Rosie, Jordan, Melinda, Liam and Arun

The Final Line up

After the crazy and amazing performance the girls decided that four people would make up the mixed group. They are Melina, Rosie, Liam and Jordan.

As soon as the four were put together in th rehearsals you could just see that they clicked. The other boys were all talented but even in the final Concert stage it was pretty clear that these four would be good together. My only change would have been to add Arun as a third boy. I loved his vocals (although he did riff a bit too much). I suppose it may have created a different look to the group aesthetically but I think his vocals were brilliant.

Melinda, Rosie, Jordan and Liam

Melina has that saucy voice that also has a bit of a country twang. Rosie has a Janet Devlinesque quirky, solf folk style. Jordan brings the R&B soul with a great falsetto and Liam has that gritty indie voice that I cant help but love.

I think the final four look good together and from the short clips we saw in the episode the chemistry is there. The issue now is that when it comes to the live shows, because the groups are all so talented it will be awful to see them eliminated from the competition. Both band we have already seem have great potential.

Now we can’t wrap up episode 2 without mentioning Billy and Louie. Although they didn’t get in to the band these boys were just absolute stars. The boys were brilliant in the group but I also think that the two would smash it as a duo.

To see my views on Episode 1 and the Boyband selection click here

Little Mix: The Search Episode 1

Who needs more singing talent shows you ask? Well I do! Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent. We all enjoy those clips of the people the fail spectacularly, make us cringe, laugh, and die of embarrassment as wells as the amazing performers. But we don’t have many talent shows that show case good singers without the gimmicks, other than The Voice.

Then Little Mix come along with, what I feel is a great new concept. A group that has made a name for themselves all over then world over the last 9 years has decided to pick a group to support them on their next tour. This will be a huge start for whichever group wins and will hopefully provide us with a modern group that this generation is lacking.

How the show works.

So how does the show work and how is it different to the typical singing talent show?

The first stage auditions were held off screen. Budding singers sent in videos of them singing and the girls whittled them down to the best ones that they wanted to see audition face to face.

(taken from Google images)

Next up is the face to face auditions. We get to see each contestant in the Last Look Room before they audition in front of Little Mix. Three of them need to say yes in order for the contestant to go through to The Band Room.

Those ten that are selected to go through to The Band Room are then mentored by Little Mix in the hopes. Of getting through to the final Concert Audition.

The final band line up will consist of four or five people that will go through to the live shows.

The Categories

The girls are looking for six groups: A Boy Band, A Girl Dance Group, A Girl Vocal Group, A Mixed Group, A Vocal & Instrument Group and A Rap R&B Group.

Episode 1: The Boyband

Episode 1 was kicked off with the boyband selection and it did not disappoint. I thought the final ten were a good bunch but you could see that there was more of a focus on a few of the boys.

On a positive note it is always good to get to know a bit about the contestants. All the boys were cheeky chaps and seemed to have the ‘vibe’ Little Mix are looking for in a modern boyband, however, it was pretty obvious that there were a few of them that were not going to get through due to the lack of airtime.

The final boyband lineup

Elliot:cheeky chappy from Oldham

When it came to the final decision, five were selected to be part of the boyband. One surprise for me was Talis. Although he is really talented, from the clips shown his voice didn’t seem to fit with the other members (but I know nothing about music) . I was gutted to see that Elliot (Picture above) wasn’t chosen. Maybe I am a bit biased because he is a fellow northerner but I wanted to see him succeed but he definitely made an impression. That being said the boyband is definitely a strong group.

Final Five: Adam , Talis, Lee, Kaci, Zeekay

Despite Elliot not being in the final five, all of the boys chosen are really talented and seemed to get on well with each other, which is a huge part of being in a group. There is no point being really talented if you can’t get on with the other members of the group.

Adam is the cool pop boyband charmer of the group, while Kaci and Zeekay bring the R&B swag as they both sing and rap. Lee brings the Indie Pop, Tom Walker, James Arthur vibes, which I think gives the boyband a more contemporary feel. Talis is a powerhouse. From his audition you could see that he will be the one to hit those long strong powerful notes in the songs that we all love to try and hit. Don’t pretend you don’t because we all do it.

I enjoyed the first episode and I am looking forward to seeing how the other groups are out together and who will be a part of the final line up.

Have you seen the. Show or do you plan on watching it? What are your thoughts?

To see my thoughts on Episode 2 click here

Fairyloot August 2020: Let the games begin

Fairy loot is a monthly book subscription and is £26 per month with £3.85 (plus £3.00 VAT). Now I know that this seems a lot for a subscription box but as you can see. You get a lot for your money

August 2020  “Let The Games Begin”

This is my first box back with Fairyloot and I was not disappointed. I subscribed with Fairyloot first launched, however I cancelled it after a few months due to a change in finances. After receiving this box and seeing the amazing content of previous boxes I regret having to cancel previously.

First up we have a Golden Egg Bath Bomb. Now who doesn’t love relaxing in a nice hot bubble bath afer a long day? I enjoy a good bath bomb so this will definitely get used.

Golden Egg Bath Bomb by Little Heart Gifts

This kind of notebook is definitely my aesthetic. As daft a sit sounds I probably won’t use it as a note book. It will be more of a display item. When I find products like this that I like I don’t like using them because I know I’d have to throw the awat after. Yes… That is strange but I’m a unique person.

Prince Dracula Hardcover Notebook by Tara Spruit and Noverantale

If you’re a bookish person you know that a good bookmark always comes in handy and this metal Bookmark is definitely unique. The design is subtle but beautiful.

Mia & Mr. Kindly Metal Bookmark by Tara Spruit

One of the things I love about fairyloot is the art work on the items. The art work on this book cover is amazing and will definitely look good displayed on my new bookcase.

Laia and Elias Book Cover by Monolime
Scythe Magnet by Tara Spruit. Aurora Rising Pin by Iron and Ink Designs

Recently I have started reading about Wicca and tarot reading. So when I saw these I felt like it was meant to be that I chose this as my first box to return to Fairyloot.

Five and Six of swords Tarot cards

Finally we have the book of the month. Star Daughter is the YA debut from Shveta Thakrar. After reading the synopsis I am looking forward to curling up on my sofa and reading this book.

“The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him”

Book of the month Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

I am really happy with my first box and I’m excited to see what September has to offer. The products are high quality, the illustrations a stunning and you get a lot for your money.