Thursday, 29 March 2018

March Books

So apparently March began and all I could think about was *Spring* so I read two books about bees back to back.

Welcome back to another monthly book round up. I've actually gone for all fairly recent novels this month, which is a little unlike me as I've been reading a little more diversely recently. Nonetheless, it's been a very successful reading month, as I've ultimately enjoyed every book I've read. I think my heart truly lies with post-2000 literature if I'm entirely honest - although I'd say I'm more generally open to anything post-1800; it's the stuff I usually end up liking the most, but I still think it's important to read older texts too, as literature of the past always has a tendency to inspire and relate to contemporary texts. The first text I read this month was entirely inspired by an older novel - one that is actually a true favourite of mine. So here are my thoughts on the books I've been reading.

Mrs Osmond by John Banville

Henry James is one of my all-time favourite authors, and The Portrait of a Lady one of my favourite books, therefore when I saw a review of Banville's 2017 text, Mrs Osmond, essentially a sequel to James' original, I couldn't resist. The novel honestly transported me back in time to James' world and I think Banville really did the original text and its author justice, which was something I was naturally concerned about. Banville truly adopts James' writing style - one not particular easy to get your head around - and gives us an interpretation of how Isabel Archer's life may have continued after the ending of The Portrait of a Lady. Isabel is one of my favourite characters in literature - alongside Edith Wharton's Lily Bart, to name another - and I loved that Banville really captured her character in his text, as she definitely remained the Isabel that James wrote despite the difference in author. I was entirely convinced by this text - Henry James himself could have written it. If you loved the story of Isabel Archer the first time, you'll be truly enamoured with this continuation.

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

I LOVE this book. This is, without a doubt, my favourite book that I've read so far this year. I loved the way the narrative was split between three different times, people and places - it was a very powerful way to tell the story and bring through the message of the novel. I think it helped make it seem entirely real as well, looking at two things that have happened in comparison with something that ultimately will happen, one way or another. The novel was originally written in Norwegian and therefore I read a translated version, which is something that always interests me - I thought the whole text read really beautifully so, naturally, it would have only sounded better prior to translation. There was something very poetic and poignant and yet political about the whole thing, which I really admire. Ultimately the three protagonists are linked together by the fate of the bees, a species that inevitably becomes extinct in the novel. Lunde is evoking in us a feeling that something must change right now, whilst still offering us hope that something lost can also return to us if we can't make the changes necessary to keep bees alive. It's a brilliant novel about a very current issue, and one that our leaders, as the one in the text does, must read into and understand, so that we don't continuously make the same mistakes. An important book about a topic close to my own heart.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Another amazing bee book. This one, although featuring the same wonderful insects, was set inside the hive, delving into the inner workings of the hive and its totalitarian regime. Personally, I don't know much about how bee hives work, so I certainly couldn't tell you how accurate this depiction is, but it made sense to me and seemed like a believable representation. I didn't love the fact that there was this one, single character who broke free from the distinct categories of bees, going from a sanitation worker, to a nurse, to a care-giver, to a forager - it obviously seemed a bit far fetched when every single other bee had to remain in the category, or class, rather, that they were born into. Nonetheless, there was always an underlying understanding that when the queen of the hive did, ultimately, die, Flora would have something to do with the continuation of the hive. I think this was nice, because being born into the lowest class of worker, you'd expect her to amount to nothing, so there was definitely the theme of pursuit, or class pursuit, throughout the novel, but written in a way that it seemed like she was just being nice to everyone and working her way up. Overall, I did really enjoy reading the book. It's a kind of dystopia, which tends to be my favourite genre to read, and it's one I'd certainly recommend.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

At work we've recently decided to start a book club, and Ernest Cline's Ready Player One was this month's book, which we'll soon be discussing, so it's actually handy that I can collect my thoughts on the text here first. It was actually a really enjoyable book to read, with the plot fiercely rallying on regardless of the slow progress the characters often seemed to be making. I think that if you knew a lot about the culture of the 80s you'd probably enjoy the book even more than I did, because for me it was more like a brief insight, which offered only a small contribution to the actual plot. The 80s trivia was just the basis for the characters to solve the puzzle, so it's definitely not essential to know much yourself, or to pick it up whilst reading, as it won't help you personally come to any revelations unless you're a devout 80s know-it-all, like the characters themselves. The ending was a bore for me. It was entirely expected and ultimately you knew the whole way through how it was going to end, which is not something that impresses me in a novel, but that's very much personal preference. It's a good read and I enjoyed the overall reading experience, but I must say, I don't think the film will be for me. I think it's certainly a book that contains more than a film could offer, so if you're planning on watching the film, wait until after to read the book (because it'll be better).

Summer Crossing by Truman Capote

I've read a couple of Capote's novels prior to this one, so I knew that I was going to enjoy reading his prose again. This is actually deemed to be Capote's first ever novel, which was only discovered in the past twenty years, which I found intriguing. It definitely has a Breakfast at Tiffany's feel to it, so perhaps in writing this text, he found his inspiration for the famous novella. This one, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, is also short in length, and focusing primarily on a somewhat rebellious young female. I think, like Holly, you're bound to find yourself loving and hating Grady throughout the text. She seems an interesting, accepting character, and yet still comes from an overly privileged background, which paints the picture that she's acting out because she can afford to and doesn't care who else's lives she endangers in the end. If you like Capote, then you'll like reading this one.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

My final novel of the month wasn't one I loved, but I would still say I enjoyed reading it. One of my friends is currently reading this book and told me it's being made into a film this year, so I thought I'd give it a go. I think, within its genre, which would presumably be teen fantasy fiction, it's rather good, but as an adult reader who tends to like things that are more on the complex side, it wasn't a favourite of mine. It's got a good plot, but it was very predictable - perhaps not to everyone, but as someone who has read a lot of books with the same themes, you know what's going to happen. To be fair, I think the film will work really well and I'll probably enjoy it more than the book. I imagine the whole production will be really strong and just great to look at, whereas with the book I struggled to see the cities in front of me, as they are obviously quite a big, unusual concept, so an actual visual representation would work better for me. If you're on the younger side, or you've not read an absolute ton on books, I'm sure you'll enjoy it more than me, but if you are an extremely avid reader, maybe save this one for the cinema once the film is released.

What have you been reading throughout March?

Until next time.

Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
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Monday, 26 March 2018

Currently Coveting: Topshop

The brief version of this post is: I'm loving Topshop's t-shirts right now.

Sadly, I'm currently on a self-imposed spending ban, as I've been paying for, or am soon to be paying for, a holiday, car tax and insurance and a hen do over the next month or so, therefore unfortunately personal spending is low on the priority list. However, even when we can't currently purchase, we can always covet.

I have been loving Topshop's Spring collection and cannot wait to finally get a little spendy (it'll probably be a pretty major birthday treat-yourself shop), so I thought I'd share with you the pieces I've got my beady eye on right now. A great way to sum up my favourite trends so far this season.


I am LOVING the silky blouse look for this Spring, so this one is an obvious winner. The gorgeous pale blue colour is a perfect match for this material, as a whole these compliment each other to give the most elegant, yet understated look. It's a very simple long sleeve design, but it would definitely have a big impact on any outfit.

Next up are these three motif Ts. I generally go for plain basic t-shirts, but the little motifs on these are so small and simple, I love them. A trend I can certainly get into. I just think there's something slightly witty but also idgaf about these tops, and I just love them. 10/10.

This simple stripe t-shirt is something I'm surprised I don't already own to be honest. Yellow is my favourite colour but I often feel it's a bit too 'out there' to wear day to day, so I think stripes are a great way to make a bold colour a little less in your face. The perfect striped T.

I haven't worn a halter neck top since I was probably about seven, so this could be revolutionary or it could make me feel like a child again. I know they've been very 'in' recently, so I wanted to give them a go again, and I think this one is such a nice way to wear the trend. I love somewhat delicate florals and this one is so pretty. Also thinking that the shirred material will make it easier to wear without a bra? We'll see.

Lastly on the top front, is this wrap crop top. Perfect for the summer, it's a basic we could probably all do with. I love the pale blue shade of this one in particular, if I ever manage to tan this would look super nice, but luckily it's also a shade that will look okay on my pale skin.


The two dresses I'm loving right now are quite different in style, but both have an elegance and slightly sun-faded look to them. The first is a very simple but stylish shirt dress, in the most gorgeous pastel pink corduroy. This is the ideal loose S/S dress in my books, and it looks like it might be the right kind of length for me too, which is a massive bonus. I can picture myself sauntering around wearing this is a warmer climate, looking chic af *fingers crossed*.

The other one is this *gorgeous* floral midi dress. I think midi dresses tend to be a really flattering length, and can be a great, safe option when you're on the taller side. The style of it is so classic and elegant, I really like the effect of the frills and overlaid fabrics. I envision this dress on a late afternoon in Positano, which I know is so specific and not somewhere I'm going to find myself any time soon, but the colour of the dress with the late afternoon sun would be so dreamy. Big dreams.


I think I've talked about most of the jumpers already through the colder months and therefore there's just one I'll be mentioning today. Cream is my all time favourite colour for jumpers, so this one, with a bit of black sleeve/collar detailing, is, of course, a winner. I love the way this one hangs on the body too - basically my perfect jumper.


As ever, I'm on the hunt for jeans that fit me nicely. They're incredibly hard to come by, but I'm willing to try pretty much any pair. I really love how these Cropped Wide-Leg Jeans look on the model and am hopeful that they would look nice on me. I think this is my favourite jeans trend I've seen in a while, and a great way of wearing jeans in the summertime, when you want everything to be a little looser and more comfortable. My fingers are crossed that these will work for me.

I think I'm going to try Mom jeans again. The first time I think I didn't get a Tall pair and was ultimately put off (for some years). This slightly faded black pair look really nice on the model and I like how as a style of jeans they're looser on the legs but a bit tighter at the waist, as that's what I'm in need of. They just look really flattering.

Then there's this bleached pair of straight leg jeans, which I envision looking amazing in the summer. Straight leg jeans aren't something I've tried yet, but as I said, I'm open to trying anything. I like the raw hem on these - it makes them seem even more causal than jeans generally do. And again, they're more cinched in at the waist, but looser on the legs. The ideal.


Could this be the year I finally wear denim shorts? It may just be, because I love these. I don't generally go for ripped anything - it's just never been my kind of thing. But these look amazing?! They are Tall, of course, because I don't think I could ever wear a part of shorts that weren't, and they look really flattering - high-waisted and a great shade of blue.


I don't really update my accessories very often, but I've seen not one, but two bags on Topshop that I'm loving right now. The first is this light grey cross-body bag, with gold chain detailing. Grey is one of the most ideal colours for a bag, as it's all-seasons appropriate and additionally would work with any outfit. I think the warm gold really compliments the lightness of the grey too, which is lovely. Just a cute little bag.

The other one - that I'm pretty much definitely going to buy - is this circle bag. This is the kind of bag that a year ago I'd have looked at and not really understood *why*, but now I think different shapes can really add something to an overall outfit and give it extra dimension. It looks so chic and is, again, a neutral colour that would work with any outfit. I get all the S/S vibes from this and I love the gold detailing (gold is my metal of choice).

So there we have it. My current Topshop pics for the Spring time. I will, without a doubt, be making an order in the not too distant future, and I'm sure a lot of these will be in my shopping basket.

What are your favourite Topshop pieces right now?

Until next time.

Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: abbielour

Friday, 23 March 2018

For the love of Spring

I don't know about you, but Spring brings me all the joy.

Spring is, without a doubt, my season. So here I am to gush over it, now that it's *finally* blooming.

The temperature has finally, slowly but surely, been picking up in the UK (let's not talk about the blizzards that have hit during March), and I could not be happier about it. Whilst I'm writing this I've got a window cracked open with Haim playing on the turntable, and I can honestly say that it feels like Spring, which feels like a bit of a miracle after the bitter winter we've endured (and if the Winter strikes back one more time, I'm gonna lose it).

Personally, I always see Spring as the season of elegance, of grace, and, naturally, of bloom. It's the season when, for the first time in the year, I feel entirely like myself. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was a Spring baby that makes me love the season so, or I sometimes convince myself that Zodiac signs say it all, and therefore as Aries is the first sign, this must be the actual beginning of the year. Who knows, but either way, this is the time of year when I'm happiest and most ready for whatever the rest of the year wishes to throw at me.

Anyway, as part of this little ode to Spring, I thought I'd leave a little list of my favourite things to do/places to go in the Spring - because some things are so much better in specific seasons.

Visiting a nature reserve / area of natural beauty - National Trust walks 100% included and recommended - honestly anywhere with a lot of trees is ideal, with the beautiful blossom (trees are my favourites)

Afternoon tea - particularly in pretty locations (there are so many places in Oxford - see image above for my favourite)

Going to the seaside - it's not too warm or busy and it's so pretty on a sunny day

Cleaning - a traditional one, but there's no better feeling than having your windows open when you've just cleaned

Early morning workouts - rise with the sun and get a sweat on

Reading *outside!* (the bugs in summer drive me a little crazy, so Spring is definitely my favoured season for this)

Rediscovering your local area - after many months cooped up inside, it's time to get out and just live in your city/town (here's me enjoying a little sun at Oxford Castle)

Coat: ASOS; Jumper: New Look (similar)

What are your Spring plans?

Until next time.

Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: abbielour

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Glossier Solution: an honest review

I don’t wanna be dramatic but this brand is changing the game.

Anyone who regularly wears makeup has probably heard of Glossier by now. The brand is fairly revolutionary, favouring skincare as an active and necessary part of the makeup we wear. Personally, I love this idea, as I tend to go for more minimal makeup, and the best way to feel comfortable with barely any coverage is to focus on skincare first.

I've previously tried quite a few of the brand's makeup products, all of which I now regularly use, but at the beginning of the year I decided to try their new and revolutionary Solution. I've left it about two months to give a review, as I think skincare is something that both takes time to work and also takes time for your skin to decide if it likes a product or not. But now, I can say for sure, that this is a product that works for me.

This product has been featured a lot on social media as a type of acne cure, or something that certain helps to sooth acne and start clearing it up, even reducing the appearance of scarring. I've personally never had any harsh acne, but prior to starting to use the Solution, I'd started getting little clusters of spots, mostly on the oilier parts of my face and I wanted to do something about it. I was initially sceptical about the results I'd seen online, presuming that the product would, naturally, work better for some people than others, and I'm still sure that that's probably true, but for me it's been really great.

I've favoured using the Solution in the evenings, as I always think that evening skincare is both more important and does more work than anything I use in the mornings. This is probably because you're in the same environment the whole time you're sleeping, so your skin doesn't have to adapt to different conditions and therefore the products can work to their full potential.

From the get go, I noticed that this product was making a difference. I had some spots on my chin and forehead the first night I tried using the Solution, and they were significant smaller and less red in the morning. I thought maybe it would just be a quick-fix product and then things would get worse straight away during the day, but that wasn't the case. After just the first week of using this, I was so impressed. Whilst I've never had particularly bad acne, when I would get a spot, it would always linger for a long time, at least a week or two, and then would scar. The scarring tended to last for anything from a month to three or four months, which is obviously not ideal. But all the scarring I have had since starting to use the Solution has cleared up, and is either completely gone or barely noticeable.

I've still gotten a few spots here and there over the past two months, but they have developed during the day, whilst I'm out and about. I've used the Solution in the evening and they've been almost gone by the time I wake up the next day. Or when I've changed another product in my skincare routine - for example I recently changed moisturiser, as mine was doing very little for me - it's upset my skin a little, but the Solution has still managed to clear up my skin while it's getting used to a new product, but equally not been so harsh that I can't tell if the new product is working or not. It allows you to see a change in your skin as you change products around, but equally isn't so harsh that you end up using products that your skin doesn't actually like. You'd still continue to break out if the new moisturiser wasn't for you, even if the Solution cleaned up the mess, the spots would still comes through.

Honestly, this product gives the perfect balance and it 100% does the job. It is a firm favourite of mine and I'm sure will remain a part of my skincare routine for a long time to come.

Once I've *finally* perfected my skincare routine (I've just got to be 100% happy with an eye cream, so hopefully it'll be soon!), I'll do a full skincare post about all the products that work best for me. It's a pretty simple routine, but I think with skincare less is often more.

Until next time.

Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: abbielour

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Everyday Makeup

'Everyday' obvs actually means about twice a week, but never mind.

Here's how I go from a 4 to a 5.

I've gotten my everyday makeup down to a regimented routine, so I thought I'd share it with you today. As mentioned, 'everyday' isn't everyday, but rather, it's my go to daytime makeup when I can be bothered to do it. More often than not I'll just use a few of these products to make me look a little more lifelike, but I thought I'd just give you the full shabang and highlight the product I use most often. Let's go.

First things first, even if I'm only putting on a tinted moisturiser, I'll still always apply a primer. Any time I've ever gone without, my skin has always been unhappy for the following days, so it's a must for me. A new favourite is the YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer, which I cannot get enough of. I got a mini of this in my beauty advent calendar and after using it up I realised I couldn't be without it and purchased the full size. It makes my skin look and feel incredible. It definitely adds a glow to the skin, and even after I've taken my makeup off, it still feels amazing, like this primer has been moisturising my skin throughout the day. Maybe the best primer ever.

My all time favourite base product is the Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser in Terre Neuve and it's the one I always reach for when I'm doing my everyday makeup. I have been using this for years now and I will continue to do so forever (if it ever got discontinued I'd be so upset). It adds a touch of colour to the face, evening out skin tone and adding a fresh look to the skin. Honestly, if you haven't tried this and you're a tinted moisturiser/ bb cream girl, you've got to test it out. On days when I'm going super natural though, with only two or three products, I have also been loving the Glossier Skin Tint in Light. It just makes your skin glow without adding very much product at all. This one is more on the watery side though, so adds barely any colour/coverage, but still looks amazing.

I don't generally use concealer anymore, which is something I never thought would happen, so trust me, I'm as shocked as you are. If it's a special occasion or I look so tired it's probably a crime somewhere, then I'll put a little under my eyes, but I rarely use it on blemishes these days - i.e. I've done so on one occasion thus far this year. The only concealer I own is the Nars Creamy Radiant Concealer in Chantilly, so if you wanted a recommendation, that's my all time fave and works wonders, but I generally just prefer to keep my base relatively simple and natural these days - a personal preference.

When it comes to powder, I've found myself reaching for the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder in the shade 1 Fair. I only started using this about two months ago, but it's amazing?? Mattifies the areas I need for basically the whole day without needing to reapply. Keeps my makeup in place and makes my skin look flawless. Honestly a massive fan. I also really like the Rimmel Clear Complexion Powder, but it's been beaten out in my everyday regime by this one.

'Cheek' makeup is something I will always skip if I'm in a rush or can't be bothered, but ultimately it does tend to make me look more lifelike, so I do love it. The Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer is my go to bronzer / contouring powder. It's one of the few that are light enough and cool-toned enough for my pasty skin, so I'm obviously a fan. I don't tend to use much of this, but a dusting on the contours of my face helps add a little colour to my skin. (I've been meaning to try the Kevyn Aucoin sculpting powder actually, as I've heard it's great for pale people, so please let me know if you've tried it/liked it).

I am a recent convert when it comes to blush, and the perfect everyday blush for me is the Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blush in First Love. It's a gorgeous dusky pink tone, with two shades - a lighter with shimmer and a deeper without - which I swirl together to get my ideal blush shade. I always thought blush would just make me look even paler, but it adds the nicest warmth to my skin. A big favourite.

My go to highlighter is the Too Faced Candlelight Highlighter in Rosy Glow. If you look at this in the pan, you'd think it would be way too pink toned, but it comes out as more of a light gold shade, almost champagne, and it's just gorgeous. Super pretty, would recommend. Use it whenever I wear any makeup at all. It's the best.

My all time favourite brow product is the Maybelline Brow Precise Fiber Filler in Medium Brown. It is so good. Personally, I don't have the patience to properly fill my brows in with a pencil, so this product is ideal. It's essentially a tinted brow gel, but works in a genius way that adds the illusion of extra hairs without any added effort, with 'fiber technology' (not something I understand, but something that evidently works). The best brow product out there in my opinion, and ideal for the lazy girl (me).

The Urban Decay Ultimate Naked Basics is my holy grail eyeshadow palette. If I'm wearing eyeshadow - it's this. It just has the perfect shade range. More often than not, I will just sweep one shade all over my eyelids, blending it up towards my eyebrows. My main favourites for this are the shades Commando, Tempted and Extra Bitter, and in the image above it's Tempted that I'm wearing. I'll then take a little bit of Blow on my finger and dot it in the inner corners of my eyes. If I'm feeling like a little definition, I'll also take Blackjack to line my lashes, but not super often.

I don't actually have a mascara that I like as the moment, so I've been using up what's left of a couple of different ones. When I do the most basic version of this makeup (tinted moisturiser/ brows/ highlight) I don't tend to wear mascara, mostly because it's the thing that takes longest to get off and it's kind of made me hate it, but if I've done the full face I feel that I need mascara to properly finish it off. Today I'm using L'Oreal Miss Baby Roll. L'Oreal mascaras always tend to be my favourites, but I think I'm just in a bit of a funk with mascara in general at the moment. This one's pretty good, but I'm just not enamoured with it right now.

And finally, on a day-to-day basis, I don't wear lipstick, as I feel it requires too much upkeep to bother with. Instead I just put on a little bit of lip balm, for the sheen.

So that's it. If I'm wearing a full face of makeup during the day time, it'll usually look like this, using the products I've mentioned.

What are your holy grail everyday makeup products?

Until next time.

Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: abbielour

Friday, 2 March 2018

What I Wore: the Snowcoat

Coat: ASOS
Jeans: Topshop
Boots: Dr. Martens
Scarf: Zara (old: vaguely similar)

A day before our second major bout of snow in the UK, the pale pink raincoat of my dreams arrived at my door. Therefore, so far, I've been using it as more of a snowcoat.

I actually planned this purchase in time for the Winter/Spring transitional rainy period. However, naturally, the weather in England never does what we hope, or even expect, it to do, going, rather, in completely the opposite direction and sending us a blizzard. In fact, it’s somehow a combination of a blizzard and a storm - the beast from the east blew over and then Storm Emma realised she could have some serious fun with this country’s inability to manage during extreme weather.

Anyway, this gorgeous millennial pink coat is from ASOS - mine is specifically from the Tall section, but I know that it's available in standard, petite and curve sizes, and maybe even in maternity. It's kind of the perfect coat, and it's one I've had my eye on ever since it came onto the site. I'm sure I mentioned it in my most recent 'Currently Coveting' post, and I soon realised it would 100% be filling a gap in my wardrobe and was a necessary purchase.

The coat has a super warm borg lining on both this upper body and hood, ideal for keeping your head warm through these cold winds - especially if, like me, you're really not a hat person. The main thing that appealed to me about this coat is how darn long it is. As a tall girl, it's usually a struggle to find a coat that covers my bum, much less one that's virtually knee-length. Therefore, this one's pretty perfect, and picture perfect too - isn't it just the nicest shade of pink?

Honestly, could not recommend this coat enough. I know it's going to work well for three out of four seasons (and will probably still be useful in the four), and I'm sure I'll have it in my wardrobe forevermore.

Here I've completed the outfit with my staple pair of Dr. Martens, black skinny Topshop jeans and a big check Zara scarf (obviously with an additional three layers underneath that you can't see).

I'm really hoping to start adding more fashion to my content, so I hope this is the kind of thing you'd like to see more of (also, I plan on taking multiple pictures for each outfit post so you can see the clothes a little better; this one only has one because the weather was way too harsh to be standing around posing!)

I hope some of you are enjoying the snow at the moment - I can't say it's my favourite kind of weather unfortunately - and if you're in a warmer climate, appreciate it! What I'd give to see some sun for a change!

Until next time.

Social media/contacts:
Instagram: abbielour
Twitter: abbielour