Colder Weather Transitioning

When that chill in the air starts becoming palpable and the mornings and evenings start to get increasingly darker, one of my favourite things to do is throw items of clothing together that totally juxtapose the weather but also kind of compliment it. A big movement on the high street this past year has involved playing with proportions of the body/figure and thus wearing dresses or extremely long line tops over jeans has become the norm. I personally love doing this when it starts to get colder as it means I can still get some use out of my more summery pieces but also I can't lie - I think the whole look can be pulled off really well by anyone. I like to go for shorter dress or a one with a dip hem and that way it doesn't swap my petite height and frame, but still shows off whatever jeans I'm sporting. I tend to go for my vintage mom jeans most of the time as again, this lets me play with proportion a little as they're not figure hugging and add a slightly androgynous aspect to an outfit.

Can you believe that this time next week I'll be moving into my very own house?! If you'd have spoken to me even a year ago and suggested such a grown up thing I would have scoffed yet here we are - packing boxes in all of my free time and frantically making sure broadband is booked in and furniture is on the "to desperately purchase" list. I've mentioned it a few times now here on NB and on my various social media accounts that once I'm settled into the new place, I want to shake up the content here on NB a little. I'm not saying I'm giving the blog a complete overhaul because that would just be silly - I still very much enjoy fashion, beauty and miscellaneous lifestyle posts - but I want to add in more variety. I've always struggled with labelling this blog and it's content and up until now I've tried to minimise too much variety. But now? Now I enjoy writing about mental health. I like talking about feminism and body positivity for women. I want to share my progress of making my future house a home and all the DIY struggles that are bound to go along with it and more. I think the current schedule might go out of the window just so I can get back to truly *enjoying* blogging. I wouldn't say I've fallen out of love with it at all, but it has certainly been feeling like a chore at times so for the benefit of my motivation and love for this pastime, I need to give myself and it a major revamp so watch this space.

Miss Selfridge Dress (similar) | Oh Lover Vintage Jeans | Bohemia Design Circle Bag | Matalan Sandals (similar)

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Book Club No. 11

Another Friday, another book review post! My last Book Club post was back in July so I haven't actually posted any reviews for a wee while, but I'm back today with some pretty perfect books - all of which I thoroughly enjoyed (for once). So if you're into fantasy fiction with a good dose of macabre or twisted magic, then you've come to the right place for some recommendations.

Anno Dracula by Mr Kim Newman
Okay so we need to start off with the most brilliantly British-feeling book but it's also easily one of the most bonkers plots I've ever had the pleasure to dive into. Anno Dracula first came onto my radar when Matt told me all about it - think Penny Dreadful but even better. The plot centres around Victorian London and follows a variety of characters from an ancient vampire from an prestigious bloodline, to Dorian Gray, to Jack the Ripper. Queen Victoria has wed Vlad Tepes - the very much fictional over-the-top version of Vlad we see tourist traps talk of today which paints him out to be Count Dracula. Dracula has killed the famous Van Helsing and is slowly dominating England as more and more vampires are swooping into the country's capital and are seen as a pest by many. He has the Prime Minister under his thumb, has his own ancient vampire soldiers roaming the streets, and impales folk in his delightful true-historical fashion if they so much as do something he's not quite happy with. The story mainly centres around a senior vampire called Geneviéve Dieudonné who helps out at what is a make shift hospital/hostel for vampire orphans and sick vampires with the aid of a peculiar doctor and a man called Charles Beauregard who is a member of the Diogenes Club and is essentially a spy trying to discover the true identity of Jack the Ripper.

As more of the story unfolds, Geneviéve and Charles meet more and more frequently as what they're both trying to investigate seems to be leading them down the same path and to the same culprit. It's a fantastic murder mystery style book but with a great nod to actual historical events, historical people, and of course many characters from popular fiction. At first, I was reading the book and really struggling with it - I don't know if it was the language or the pace of the story, but I just couldn't keep up. I found myself flipping backwards time and time again because a character's name would come up and I'd think "eh? Who?" and need to re-read parts to try and make sense of it all. However there's a distinctive part of the plot - when Geneviéve gets into essentially a street brawl with an ancient Asian being - that hooked me in for the rest of the story and everything seemed to fall into place. The focus around this ancient oriental aspect of the book really sparked my interest as there was just something about Newman's description of certain elements that ignited my imagination and my imagination took a very Studio Ghibli route visually. I found this book incredibly good for not giving you *too* much description, but just the right amount to help you form a clear picture in your mind of what *you* think is going on. It does dive straight into things so if you sometimes struggle with following storylines that don't over explain and describe, you might find you flick back and forth like I did at first but hang in there - this book is without a doubt worth the read. It is part of a series so I will 1Oo% be picking up the next book in the line up sometime soon, but if you think it sounds up your street, you can pick up a copy in various formats here.

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan
Now onto the show stopper. This book has been hyped up so much during the last month or so and it's clear to see why. A Place Called Perfect is the debut novel from Helena Duggan and it is just the perfect (see what I did there) fantasy book for children and adults alike. First up we need to address the gorgeous cover - if that doesn't draw you in and make you want to at least read the blurb then I don't know what will. The book centres around a young girl called Violet who has recently moved to a place called Perfect with her Dad and Mam - you guys have no idea how happy I was to see that Mam was called Mam and that her family often affectionately call each other "pet" throughout the book as it made me think of home and my own family. Okay waffling aside - back to the story. So they move to Perfect at the request of two brothers who run the town as they're interested in Violet's Dad's expertise when it comes to eyes and everything optical. Everyone in Perfect need to wear glasses otherwise they have incredibly impaired blurry vision and it seems that no one knows why. So in steps Violet's Dad to try and solve the conundrum. As you might have guessed, Violet soon discovers that Perfect is actually far from Perfect and that there's actually a lot of strange and suspicious things going on in the town once you remove those rose tinted glasses.

Telling you guys anything more than that would definitely ruin the story so I won't say much more about the actual plot, but I just loved this from start to finish. Although Violet as a character annoyed me sometimes, it is so fantastic to see a children's book that has a female main character who is a gutsy heroine with lots of sass and spunk. She doesn't take no for an answer and I think for young girls to read this would be really positively influential and uplifting for them. Despite being targeted at a much younger audience, A Place Called Perfect reads so well that I'd be very surprised if any adult reads it and doesn't enjoy it. It's incredibly quick and easy to read but it's got the right amount of description and a great pace to it to make it feel like you've really went on a journey with the characters. If you're a Neil Gaiman or Tim Burton fan and enjoy those slightly creepy/macabre twists they manage to put into children's fiction so cleverly, you'll absolutely love this book too as Duggan manages to add those slightly spooky elements expertly. I'm not going to lie, as an adult reading it, there were a couple of times I thought "hang on, that can't work because of xyz" so there are some loopholes in the story, but overall I am more than happy to overlook them as they don't ruin the story at all. If you couldn't tell already, I bloody loved this and I can't wait to see what else Duggan releases as this has easily crept it's way up to one of my favourite books this year without a doubt. Pick up a beautiful copy of A Place Called Perfect here.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The third and final book to mention in this post was also a big hit with me. The Night Circus did it's rounds in popularity a couple of years ago now, but I just never got around to reading it because I knew there was a romantic element to it and y'all - I'm straight up not interested in that nonsense when it comes to my reading material choices. But after some convincing from Matt, I decided to give it a try and I really truly rate it to anyone who wants to read what would make a spectacular film. The plot is exactly what the title suggests - it centres around a travelling circus which opens at dusk and closes at dawn. It is magical, mystifies those who visit it, and just generally becomes an eagerly awaited and anticipated event in every town it pops up in. The whole story behind the circus and it's creation is down to two gentleman who are magic. They like friendly competition and for years have had apprentices that they have feverishly taught their skills and talents to who then will "battle" the other apprentice in "a game". The Night Circus follows the latest apprentices and their upbringing, training, and encounter. Characters along the way create the Night Circus as a fun project and both apprentices have some involvement in it. I know I say this at least once in every book review post, but I genuinely don't want to say much more than that about the general plot as it will honestly spoil it for any of you who want to read this in the future.

This book is very descriptive so it plants a clear image in your mind and oddly enough, I quite liked it. I usually like books that aren't overly descriptive or packed with information as it sucks the fun out of reading for me, but this one had the perfect amount to accompany the very busy and character-packed story. The whole time reading this I got instant "I could see this on the big screen one day" vibes as everything about it screams Hollywood blockbuster done in the style of The Great Gatsby crossed with Water For Elephants. The imagery is great, the range of characters and all their intertwining lives is so easy to get lost in, and there's still an air of mystery about what will happen threaded throughout the book right to very end. If you like magical, fantasy, complete fairytale style stories but also like a little bit of romance dashed in there too, this is the one for you.

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My Current Favourite Natural Highlighters

When it comes to highlighters, I am *that lass* who wants to smother herself in them but also wants them to be subtle and not blinding. So yeah, the most awkward highlighter customer. Since going foundation free many moons ago, I've looked more and more towards natural-looking products that help me not look clownish as my red blotchy skin is parading out and about and this has increasingly applied to those genius products that give your skin an artificial glow.

So with that being said, although I have now accumulated some firm favourites I rely on 9O% of the time, I also like to try out others so I have *options* because that's the sort of desperately non-minimalist life I lead. I've recently tested out some new ones, reacquainted my love with some old amazingness, and I thought I'd give you the lowdown on them all (all cruelty free of course!).

W7 Hollywood Bronze & Glow | £5.95: W7 are a brand who I love dearly for their eyeshadows but after stumbling across this palette online, I just couldn't help myself. Charlotte Tilbury is a *great* brand but y'all, I hate spending a lot of money on one singular beauty product so they purchases from that brand are few and far between. So when I saw this Hollywood Bronze & Glow contour palette that is so obviously a CT Filmstar Bronze & Glow palette dupe (if you couldn't tell by the hilariously similar name then the indentation of the powders will be yet another dead giveaway!) I wanted to give it a shot. So as you can see, the two powder products look very very similar to the CT offering and guess what? They're just as good. As I've mentioned, I prefer the natural look nowadays and these powders aren't super pigmented so they're perfect for subtle looks but they're long lasting so for me they're the best of both worlds. The highlighter is a golden champagne shade which is a shade I tend to gravitate towards and it has no chunky glitter and only gives a subtle sheen to the skin. Perfect for "no makeup days".

L.A. Girl Spice Beauty Brick Blush Palette | £8.Oo: Next up I need to mention another super natural offering but a one that is even more bargain-licious when you consider just how many products you're getting for a wee 8 quid. I fully reviewed this blush palette from L.A. Girl a few weeks ago now because it has quickly become my favourite thing to pack when I'm travelling due to the great blush shades, the easy to blend contour and surprise surprise, that subtle highlight. This palette is great all round, but the highlight is a fave for me right now because it's probably the most natural one I own in my collection. Despite it being a powder, it doesn't look heavy or chalky etc. on the skin and just gives the high points of your face a very natural shine - not greasy, wet or glittery looking like many other highlights offer, but more of a "this is where sunlight hits" look. If you are on the lookout for a great palette in general but also a highlight that makes you skin look naturally radiant without looking like highlight, this is a game changer.

theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer Gold Highlighter Powder | £16.Oo - £19.99: I know what you're thinking - Amy, this highlight is *poppin'* how can you call it a natural highlighter - well lemme tell you. theBalm's holy grail highlighter has become a cult classic amongst beauty bloggers and vloggers and that's simply because it's a brilliant product. It's finely milled, feels feather light on the skin, and my goodness does it pack a punch. So, it is a blinder of a highlight but only if you intend it to be. I used to pile this puppy on but now I use a delicate hand and only pop my brush into the powder once, tap off, then apply a light dusting to my cheeks and nose. It's my favourite option for an evening out or a special occasion as it's one of my most blinding highlights but again, it can be toned down pretty easily. It's that lovely champagne/gold shade that I seem to gravitate towards too so I think that's really why it has stolen my heart over the last couple of years.

From left to right: Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in 'Lunch Money', theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer Highlighter Powder, L.A. Girl Spice Beauty Blush Brick Palette Highlighter, W7 Hollywood Bronze & Glow Highlighter

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in 'Lunch Money' | $8.Oo: It is no secret - I ruddy love Colourpop Cosmetics (particularly their lipsticks), but a product I've loved for an age now is their highlighter in the shade Lunch Money. Colourpop's classic Super Shock highlighters are a creme to powder formula that at first I absolutely hated because I prefer powder products, but the effect of this highlight made me persevere and I eventually fell in love. This shade is my favourite out of the few I own in this formula because it's that nice gold champagne shade I love but it's slightly lighter in shade so its more pearly/opal and it looks gorgeous on the skin. I like to use this alone when I'm having good skin days and therefore really do wear minimal base products as it sits really nicely on bare or just primed skin, but I also like to use this as an almost highlighter primer under some of my favourite powder ones to give more of a glow from within. This is a great trick for nights out or when you want to go a little bit more overboard with the glow and glimmer as it helps keep the powder products blinding through the day/night. Lunch Money blends out beautifully as it settles into the skin seamlessly and looks incredibly natural due to it's formulation despite also being pretty damn good at giving the cheeks that nice wet-look appearance in the sunlight.

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