Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Book review: I'll Be Home for Christmas anthology



With the start of December nearly upon us (yes really, better start planning that Christmas shopping!) I thought it was the perfect time to start reviewing the more festive titles from my Bookish Gift Guide for the Holidays. And I couldn't have picked a better novel than the I'll Be Home for Christmas anthology from Stripes Publishing. Not only is it jam-packed with a wide array of great stories from some of the hottest voices in British young adult fiction, but at least £1 from every copy sold goes directly to homelessness charity Crisis.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Fun and Games in Vancouver



In my previous posts on Vancouver and wider British Columbia I talked about the best touristy things to see & do, hiking in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, and even a shopping haul at Metrotown. While all of these were great fun to experience, the majority probably pop up in any good guide to BC. That's why in today's blog is all about lesser known activities that can be enjoyed in the city, or are just a short drive away, with a themed mystery game on the street of Vancouver, an Indiana Jones inspired escape room, and a corn maze.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Transworld Debut Fiction Showcase



One of the most exciting things about reviewing books, is getting the chance to discover new voices long before they go mainstream. Can you imagine reading award-winning novels such as The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce before these authors are widely known to the public? It's a real privilege.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Book review: The Amateurs by Sara Shepard



I love a good detective and no-one does young adult murder mystery quite as well as Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game, The Perfectionists and many more ace series with kick-ass teenage characters outwitting most of the adults around them. The Amateurs introduces a whole new cast of seemingly unlikely young super sleuths, who take the reader on a roller-coaser ride filled with twists and turns. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Dinosaurs and Hoodoos in Drumheller


Did you know that the town of Drumheller in the Canadian province of Alberta is known as the dinosaur capital of the world? Or that its surroundings are filled with fascinating rock formations that are called Hoodoos? When I went to Edmonton we also made a day trip to Drumheller, which is located in the heart of the Canadian Badlands and about a three-hour drive away (it is closer to Calgary if you're going there as well) – and it was brilliant. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology was an incredibly fascinating place to visit and the landscape of the area unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Country Living Christmas Fair 2016



Another week, another festive event! Last weekend I hopped on the tube for the Country Living Christmas Fair at the Business Design Centre in Islington. This is the seasonal fair I've been frequenting the most these last few years (previously covering it with my Woman's World hat on) and it's still one of my favourites. The exhibitors at the event really get that Country Living brand feel across, and so browsing the stalls feels like walking into the pages of the magazine. And this year the quality and diversity of the products on offer was even higher than before, with exhibitors ranging from very affordable to the much more luxurious end – and everything crafty, fun, tasty, quirky and unique in between. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bookish Gift Guide for the Holidays



Books are the perfect gift for the holidays (though they're not just for Christmas, guys!), however it can be a challenge finding just the right title for the right person. I've done the hard work for you this year by researching recent releases that are especially seasonal or gifty, making them the perfect present for your friends and family members (or yourself, of course). I've divided the guide by adult non-fiction, adult fiction and children's/young adult fiction, so you can skip straight to the right section if you already have some idea of what you'd like to get. I've also linked to my reviews if they've been published already and if they haven't yet, keep an eye on them in the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Best Things to See and Do in Edmonton



I've spoken about Vancouver a lot already, but on my recent trip to Canada I also ventured into a for me entirely new province: Alberta. This wasn't one high on the priority list before, but I went to visit friends and I ended up really enjoying the places I explored. One of them was Edmonton, the base of my flying visit to Alberta and in this post I'll talk about some of the city's highlights, including the North Saskatchewan River Valley, West Edmonton Mall and Old Strathcona Farmers' Market.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Spirit of Christmas Fair – My Favourite Exhibitors




The first Christmas event of the season, House & Garden's beautiful Spirit of Christmas, has already finished and I'm feeling properly festive now! The fair was filled with tasty brands and unique crafts & decorations, and I had a wonderful time browsing the stalls to pick up gifts for friends and family members. I won't share pictures of my purchases as to not spoil the surprise, but I did want to highlight some exhibitors that particularly stood our to me with beautiful and high quality products. The fair may have already finished, but I included the website links for those where I picked up a business card, so you can still buy your own presents for the holidays from these talented British businesses.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Book review: A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray



Firebird by Claudia Gray is one of my most favourite young adult series. The books are innovative, exciting, constantly take me by surprise and the world-building is on another level – it's absolutely stunning. A Thousand Pieces of You was its highly imaginative opener that got me hooked, Ten Thousand Skies Above You was the sequel that blew me away, meticulously plotted and possibly even better than the first book, and A Million World With You provided an explosive conclusion, even bigger and more epic than its precedents.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Last Five Years at St James Theatre



Photo credit: Scott Rylander

St James Theatre in Victoria is an underrated performing space. Tucked away just behind the much flashier Victoria Palace, which for many years housed family favourite Billy Elliot and will be home to Broadway hype Hamilton next, they often put on new or lesser known musicals but with an incredible cast and creative team behind it. From Miss Atomic Bomb to Urinetown and You Won't Succeed on Broadway if You Don't Have Any Jews to two-hander The Last Five Years starring Samantha Barks (Les Misérables) and Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch).

Monday, 7 November 2016

Canada Shopping Haul



One of the things I was excited for on my trip to Canada was... shopping! I'm not a massive shopper usually but I do have the occasional urge to treat myself, and where better than somewhere where they have a host of shops unavailable to me in the UK? I didn't end up buying loads for myself (partly because on my very first day I had to buy a new charger for my MacBook, which was a hit to my funds, and partly because most of what I bought were actually gifts for my family), but I did find some things I loved for myself too. I mostly browsed while in Vancouver and then made my purchases in Edmonton as there is a much lower tax rate there (and the West Edmonton mall is also the biggest shopping mall in North America so I had easy access there to everything in one place). Check out my purchases below, divided by beauty, clothes, homeware, food and souvenirs.  

Friday, 4 November 2016

My Month in Favourites – October 2016



October was when two of my favourite things in life collided: autumn and Canada. Autumn is my favourite time of year; I absolutely love the colours, smells and cosiness of the season, and this year has thus far been particularly great with barely any rain in the UK. *knocks on wood* And then there was my long-anticipated holiday to Canada which was everything I wanted it to be and then some. I'm doing a weekly travel blog on my adventures so won't go into too much detail here, but of course couldn't let it off my favourites. As for tangible things I enjoyed this month, they include stunning non-fiction books, beautifully smelling products from Bath & Body works, fluffy fox socks, the best hand cream for dry autumn hands from Cath Kidston, and comfy flannel shirts I picked up in Bluenotes.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Encore: 40 Years of NYMT at the Adelphi Theatre



Photo credit: Konrad Bartelski

I love the National Youth Music Theatre. Not only does it remind me of my own time going to a theatre school in the Netherlands, but these kids are so incredibly talented and the NYMT is deservedly the stepping stone for many onto the West End stage and beyond. From Ben Barnes to Sheridan Smith, some of the biggest names in entertainment have made their debut at the NYMT during the 40 years it has been going. And last Sunday night alumni, fans, friends, family and current company members all came together to celebrate some of the greatest productions and people in NYMT history at Encore: 40 Years of NYMT.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Book review: There May Be a Castle by Piers Torday



With the start of November this week and the clocks having gone back last weekend, the noticeably darker and colder days have settled in, which means it is now totally okay to dive into my first festively themed reads, right? There May Be a Castle isn't an obvious seasonal read, but it does take place on Christmas Eve and so I found it to be the perfect novel to kick-off the festive period with. And not only does it feel suitably wintery, it's also an incredibly imaginative and beautiful novel of two young children's courageous journeys throughout one day – a must-read for young and old alike.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Side Show at Southwark Playhouse



Photo credit: Pamela Raith

Side Show tells the story of real-life conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, from growing up in a seedy freak show in Texas to being propelled into the Hollywood spotlight. Along the way they struggle with identity and being seen as two individuals, alongside every day problems such as romance woes and naivety when shown kindness when they least expect it. It makes for an engrossing and, despite the subject matter, a very relatable premise.