Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Abomination by Jonathan Holt

the abomination carnivia trilogy book 1 jonathan holt

It’s the second book from Francesca’s #BloggersBookclub, you can see the first book from the club over here!

The Abomination is set in two versions of Venice. It’s real life cobbled streets, expansive waterways and darkened corners, and it’s online virtual mirror image counterpart; Carnivia. This cyber-side to the novel was what really intrigued, after all I can’t say I actively read a lot of crime novels.

Carnivia is the brain child of the once kidnapped and mutilated Daniele Barbo, a computer whiz kid who is going on trial for not allowing the government access to the online lives of his websites users. You can actually log onto the Carnivia website, choose a mask to hide behind and confess your sins – it was actually pretty fun to read some of the things people had wrote, something we see happen in the book too. It’s an interesting way to enhance the act of reading the book and a twist on what we usually find on a books corresponding website.

The books key players are Carabinieri captain Kat Tapo and American intelligence officer, Second Lieutenant Holly Boland. Both women are incredibly strong willed and independent but they have their own scars and flaws making them somewhat more likable characters, especially Kat. It took me a long time to warm to her and see beyond that hardened exterior. The book explored the problems women face in male dominated careers, hell, the majority of the book was pretty much about women being over powered and dominated in some of the most disrespectful and exploitive ways you could imagine. This is not a book to go into so lightly and I wished I’d have known before hand just how disturbing some parts of it would be – it was no bedtime reading that’s for sure!

The women are thrown together when a murder investigation and an investigation into human trafficking and conspiracy theories start running along the same paths. Insert murder, politics, violence, prostitution, computer hacking, bomb drops, war crimes and car chases. No, I wasn’t expecting all of that and then some either! In a way, it felt like I was reading two books at once and though they intertwined at points, just as I was sinking my teeth into one book it took off into the other.

Overall, I was impressed, it was a decent but heavy read. The darker sides to the novel took my off guard so just bare that in mind if you pick this one up. And I recommend you do. If like me, you don’t read many crime novels then this is a great place to start. It pretty much covers everything and anything I would expect to find in a crime novel. As a women, I found the constant hammering home about women being taken advantage of by men in both a mental and physical way to be a bit too much at times but as one of the main arcs of the story I can accept the point had to be made. If that’s something you’re not really comfortable reading though then this isn’t the book for you. I know I needed something I little more lighthearted after this one that’s for sure!

Have you read The Abomination by Jonathan Holt? Any recommendations for that I should read next? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Friday, 29 August 2014

Nike fitness haul

nike discounted fitness clothes for women

This bank holiday I headed over to Cheshire Oaks Outlet in Ellesmere Port to see if I could bag myself any bargains. For those of you who don’t know, Cheshire Oaks is a huge designer outlet with over 145 designer stores, including Gap, Nike, Michael Kors, Molten Brown, Ugg and Yankee Candle to name but a mere few.

I headed on into the Nike Factory Outlet on the hunt for some proper fitness clothes. Turns out, I own zero actual gym like clothes. I have some loose tops, some tracksuit bottoms but nothing that’s specifically designed for fitness. If I’m going to get serious about working out then it’s about time I invested in some slightly more appropriate gear!

Nike Running Dri-Fit tops £13/£18 (outlet prices)

nike discounted fitness clothes for women

I’m not a big fan of skin tight tops when I’m working out and I feel ridiculously self conscious in vest tops so I went for a full tee style. From the Nike running range, they’re made from 50% recycled polyester, designed for superior athletic performance (I might be pushing myself a bit there!) with a lower environmental impact. Save the planet guys! The Dri-fit technology was one of the main reasons I went for this style, it’s supposed to pull away sweat, keeping you dry and comfortable as you work out. Sounds perfect for a high impact cardio workout! I went for the pink/purple tee (£13) and a beautiful sky blue (£18). I’ usually a UK 8-10 so I picked up a size S which fits perfectly, not too fitted but not flapping about all over the place, it’s tapered giving it a feminine shape and is a perfect length.

Nike Tight Fit Dri-Fit bottoms £26/£30 (outlet prices)

nike discounted clothes for women

These fit like a second skin! I couldn’t believe I actually opted for the tight fit pants but the cut and seams actually make them really flattering and I don’t feel conscious in them at all. Though they’re a tight fit they don’t feel tight or restricting at all…I should know, I bounced all over the changing room bending this way and that (the things we do behind closed doors!). I opted for the black, they go with any colour top and I can get away with outrageously colored underwear, I’ve got to think about these kinds of things!
I picked up a full length pair (£30) and a ¾ length pair (£26).

How are you keeping fit these days? Picked up any new gear? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

ESPA Introductory Collection Review

espa replenishing collection review

Let’s face it, the majority of us can’t afford the time, luxury or pennies to go to the spa every week…heck, even every few months if we’re being completely honest! Don’t get me wrong, I would jump at the chance to get myself professionally pampered in one of those only-hotels-have-them fluffy robes, alas, I can’t see that happening any time soon so I’ve made it my mission of late to bring the spa experience home!

ESPA certainly makes bringing the spa experience home easy. I’ve been trying out a few of their products over the last couple of months, their bubble bath being one of my favourite home spa treats right now. Loving what I’ve tried already I was eager to explore other products, in particular their skin care range. Let’s face it, I’m all about the skin care these days!

I don’t know about you but when I try out a completely new brand I want to try as much of the range as possible in one go. It’s like shower gels that have matching body lotions, some products, to me, just work better amongst their fellow counterparts!

The Replenishing Collection, to me, is the perfect and most affordable way to check out a complete skin care system. It contains everything you need to clean and pamper your face in the comfort of your own bathroom! This little box of luxury comes in at just £16.50!

What’s in the box?

  • Hydrating cleansing milk
  • Refining skin polish
  • 24 hour replenishing eye moisturizer
  • 24 hour replenishing moisturizer
  • Hydrating floral spafresh toner

espa skin care replenishing collection

Designed to help you satisfy your curiosity and experience the elements at the core of an ESPA experience, this little box of wonder contains pretty much everything you need not only for a relaxing home spa facial experience, but as the perfect introduction to the brand itself.

I actually took this little kit with me in my over night bag, reasoning that the morning after the night before my skin would be in desperate need of some extra TLC! Not to mention our hotel had the most kick ass spa-like bathroom so my little glass vials looked oh so stylish next to the sink!

Having oily skin I knew not everything was going to be for my specific skin type. I found the 24 hour replenishing moisturizer to be too thick for my skin. It left my skin really shiny but it did give my face a much needed moisture boost!

The spafresh toner is delightful. It smells amazing! It’s a very very strong floral scent which I was surprised I liked as much as I did. It really helped to sooth some redness I had around my nose and left my skin feeling silky smoth.

Now, the only product in the set I have been using constantly is the 24 hour replenishing eye moisturizer. Morning and night I’ve been dabbing this around the eye area and it instantly leaves me eyes looking brighter, making up for all those late nights and early starts I seem to be having of late!

I am loving this set and purposefully keeping it to one side for future over night/long weekends. It makes the trip that little more indulgent, even if I’m only staying in a budget hotel! There’s also a handy little card in the box that gives step-by-step instructions for giving two different types of facial massage.

Have you checked out anything in the ESPA skin care range? How do you bring the spa to you? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Monday, 25 August 2014

Glam Glow Supermud Clearing Face Mask Review

glam glow supermud face mask review

My skin hasn’t been looking it’s best of late. Late nights, early mornings and a general feeling of meh has left my skin looking pretty dull and lifeless. When we’re feeling pretty crappy on the inside, one of the first places it starts to show on the outside is your face – stress breakouts, dark circles. Sometimes beauty sleep just isn’t enough!

Bring on Glam Glow Supermud Clearing Treatment. Designed for Hollywoods elite to get their skin soft, supple and glowing for the camera, Glam Glow promises to detoxify skin, brighten and even skin tone, improve elasticity, de-clog pores and fight breakouts. That’s a pretty big promise for such a tiny jar if you ask me! RRP for a 34g jar is £45…ouch! It’s on the expensive side for sure, I picked mine up in Sephora in Barcelona for around 40euros, so not a huge saving there.

Though the jar is pretty small you need only the thinnest layer when applying a full face mask. Glam Glow say this jar will proved 17 treatments or 1,000 spot treatments. So when you think of it that way it does bring down the cost a teeny tiny bit!

After a good cleanse and a patted dry face I smooth on a thin layer of the mask all over my face, avoiding the eyes and mouth area. Thin layer is key here if you want to get any kind of longevity out of this one! The mask smells amazing, very minty fresh! It also has these, let’s say clumps (?) of green tea leaf...which I’ll be honest, as the mask is drying, they’re pretty fun to pick off!

The mask takes around 10-15 minutes to dry. The thinner the layer, the quicker it will dry. So pop the kettle on, paint your nails, catch up with some YouTube, you’ve got plenty of time! When the mask starts to dry you’ll know about it – I actually imagine if you were to stare Medusa straight in the eye and turn to stone it would feel exactly like this mask drying! Don’t expect to have a conversation or drink without a straw once this has set that’s for sure!

glam glow supermud face mask review

Now if you look not too closely as the mask dries, you will see these dark little spots appear – this is the good, yet gross stuff! This is all the excess oils, dirt and sebum being dragged, kicking and screaming from your pores! Hurrah!

Once the mask has completely dried I simply remove with warm water. I rinse my face in circular motions until the mask is completely washed off. You might have to change the water a few times, it gets pretty dirty fast! Once it’s all washed off I rinse my face with cold water to close and tighten my pores then pat dry with a clean towel.

Voila! Job done!

My skin instantly feels smoother and looks clearer and brighter. My pores look smaller and thoroughly cleaned out. I’ve also noticed it helps reduce redness around any breakouts I might currently have. Win win all round if you ask me!

Now this mask can increase photo sensitivity meaning your skin is more susceptible to sun damage for a few hours after using this mask. With this in mind, I always use the mask in the evening – my skin still looks bight and fresh in the morning! If you’re going to use this during the day be sure to lather on extra sunscreen!

I’ve been using this mask since April and I’ve easily got 10+ uses before I’ve started to see the bottom of the jar peeking through! That brings the price down to under £5 a treatment so far which is still a little pricey when you can pick up 99p masks. That being said, I am in love with this mask and would seriously consider buying it again. My skin looks and feels amazing, very smooth and clear and when my skin is looking good, I feel about ten times better – and you just can’t put a price on that!

Have you tried Glam Glow? Let me know in the comments below what you’re favourite face mask is!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Body Shop Liverpool One: Wild Argan Oil Launch

On Tuesday, Jackie, Roxanne, Laura, Anita and myself headed down to The Body Shop in Liverpool One for the launch of their newest range; Wild Argan Oil.

I've been looking forward to getting my hands on some of the new Wild Argan line, I've heard nothing but good things about it and lately I've developed a bit of a thing for beauty oils - so this launch is perfect timing!

The Wild Argon Oil products are made from very precious argan nuts that are sourced in the remote Atlas mountains in Morocco. After being hand picked they are then hand cracked and slowly pressed to create the purest argan oil.

After doing a little reading up online and browsing through the online store, I'd already eyed up the body lotion, bubble bath and  body scrub. They sound like a home-spa day just waiting to happen, don't they?? I know, I know, I'm suppose to be running down my beauty supplies not building them up but I had to at least buy something to try out! (Us bloggers have the best excuse...we can justify any purchase by saying, 'Oh, I can blog about this! WIN!)

After much sniffing, oooooing and ahhhing I popped the shower gel and body lotion into my basket. I find the body butters can be a little on the thick side and the lotion felt really lightweight and silky when I tested it in-store. The bubble bath and body oil are at the top of my to-buy list for next time though!

First impressions of the range are so far, so good. It’s an extensive range and I solid oils look amazing, especially if you’ve got dry or damaged hair. I had a quick demo of the solid hair and body oil and it melted like butter into my skin, it reminded me somewhat of the Lush massage bars.

Like any and all Body Shop products, it passed the sniff test! It strongly reminds me of the shea butter range but with more of a floral undertone.

We had a great time catching up and wandering the store. You can’t help but stop, smell and swatch everything in The Body Shop and I love how spacious and bright the Liverpool One branch is! For the launch they’d even brought in a professional henna artist who did a stunning job on Lauras’ hand. I was tempted, it looked so pretty and intricate, but I have to wash my hands so often in work it wouldn’t have lasted more than a day! There was also a table of tasty treats, bucks fizz and a delicious green tea and mint which I couldn’t get enough of!

I can see this being one of their more successful ranges. With backing from beauty blogger and vlogger Fleur De Force this is sure to be a hit. Brands are getting the big time YouTube stars on board more often now, ah the power of social media, it is a force to be reckoned with that’s for sure!

Have you checked out anything in The Body Shop wild argan oil range? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Monday, 18 August 2014

Blogging, blogs and buying habits

blogging and buying habits

After reading Bethany’s dissertation research on The Influence of Beauty Blogs, it got me thinking about how reading and writing a blog has changed how I shop. Gone are the days when on a whim, I would just chuck something in pretty packaging into my basket or I would stick to old faithful products like they where the only options on the shelf. Sure, this still happens from time to time but when I shop consciously I can see a massive difference in my post-blogging shopping habits.

How many of your purchases are influenced by what you’ve read on a blog or watched in a YouTube haul video? Come on now, don’t be shy, my hand is raised high here too. When I look through my beauty bin and make up bag I see a lot of items and brands in there that chances are, I would never have considered purchasing if it wasn’t for what I’d been reading online.

Beauty blogs, YouTube channels, Instagram, even Pinterest pretty much influence everything I buy, from gifts for loved ones to luxuries for myself. Heck, if I see enough dazzaling reviews for a high end product, that alone can be enough to justify the splurge! In the past I’d have gone off the price tag alone and no matter what the sales assistant said, my purse would have stayed firmly shut!

Let’s say I’m in Boots and I’m looking for a new shampoo, so I pick one up and read the back, to me it sounds pretty good and I hover the bottle over my basket. My phone comes out of my bag, I type the name into Google with review tagged on the end and I hit search. Scrolling past Amazon reviews and comments on the brands website I go straight to a .blogspot url. Hey, this blogger kind of sounds like me, she too has long thick hair, but she didn’t fall head over heals in love with this shampoo. OK! I hit the back button and try the next one. 5 minutes later and half a dozen reviews under my belt I put the shampoo back down, it didn’t work for the bloggers, chances are it won’t work for me…What’s that I see at the end of the aisle? Wasn’t Zoella talking about that exact brand recently? I reach for it and the cycle continues.

Sound familiar?

Bloggers give us what the brands generally can’t. They give us a personal touch. We know the ins and outs of our favourite bloggers, we know what similarities we share, so if the shampoo worked for them, chances are we think it will work for us. Of course, it could still turn out to be the worst purchase we ever made, but we don’t feel as bad about it. After all we made our choice based on the reviews we read and listened to.

It’s all well and good reading the back of bottles and looking on the brand websites but we want advice from someone we trust. Brands are realizing what power and influence a blog can have and getting a big time blogger on your side could be just the sales boosting ticket they’re in need of!

It’s not just about buying things on recommendations of bloggers either! If you yourself write a blog and you see all the other bloggers in your niche writing about a certain product, I know I for one am more inclined to go check it out to be sure I’m not missing out on anything. More often than not I look at an item, event, even a meal on a menu and instantly think, I can blog about this.

We all say we’re individuals, we make our own choices, etc etc, I know, I say it myself too – who wants to admit they’re a sheep in the flock? But we all have the tendency to follow the flock without even realizing it!

None of this is a bad thing. In fact for us bloggers I think it’s a good thing. For those of us who are in it for the long haul, not just the freebies, it gives us some recognition as to how powerful our words can be and, credit where credit is due. Most of us bloggers blog because we can’t help it. We have this need to get our words and thoughts out there, to help others and share our adventures. We will talk about products and places with no PR involved. We’re talking about things we genuinely love (or loathe as the case my be!) and what brand doesn’t love a little free press?

Blogs and blogging clearly influences how I shop, so how about you? Do you buy things based solely on blog recommendations? Or are you buying with the intent of writing a kick ass post with pictures to boot? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

July Favourites 2014

Most of July has been spent trying to save some shiny pennies – so I’ve bought very little in the way of new products or objects. It’s been tough let me tell you! Cancelling subscriptions, delving deep into my storage boxes and trying to use up some of the products I’ve been hording way too long, even tip toeing on the edge of all the sales currently going on! My bank balance might thanking me for it but my soul is feeling a little deprived! Damn consumerism making me want all the things!

July has had a few highlights though so let us focus on the positive and look at some of those!

Reel Big Fish @ the o2 academy, Liverpool

Technically this happened in August but I spent most of July super excited to see these amazing guys live. Their greatest hits album is easily the most played on my Spotify (yes, it might even have been played more than my Disney albums!). Mr.Man introduced me to them over a year ago and I fell head over heels for the up beat trumpets, trombones and catchy lyrics! I bought Mr.Man tickets for his birthday and was completely blown away by their stage presence and music! You can’t help but smile when these guys play, and the energy was so infectious I was buzzing for days afterwards!

ESPA 24 hour replenishing eye moisturizer £36

espa 24 hour replenishing eye moisturiser

I won’t say too much as there will be a review coming on this very soon but what I can say is…wow! There was me thinking No 7 was the eye cream to end all eye creams, then this little beauty comes into my life and completely changes my mind over night! I’ll have to leave you hanging I’m afraid, keep your eyes peeled for the review!

ESPA Optimal Skin Pro Serum £48

espa optimal skin pro serum

Another beauty I won’t say too much about, but who would have thought that actually using an oil on oily skin could be a good thing? I’m familiar with the oil cleansing method but have always been weary of using oils directly on my skin…looks like things are certainly changing in my skin care routine! I’m almost at the bottom of the sample bottle (imagine me falling to my knees and cursing the skies!) but I have too many good things to say about this little wonder! Stay tuned! (Me? A tease? Haha)

Emily and Fin Lucy dress in Palm Print

emily an fin lucy dress palm print
Currently £24 @

Hello sunshine! July saw us having some amazing weather so it was the perfect opportunity for me to get some wear out of my first Emily and Fin dress. Sky blue, tropical palm trees and sandy beaches, I’m a walking explosion of sun and fun in this dress. The fit is a touch too big on the top but overall it’s probably the most comfortable dress I own! Oh, and did I tell you…it has pockets!!! Actual usable pockets! I’m so in love with this dress that I’m already looking at others by Emily and Fin to add to my wardrobe!

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

I’ve been on a reading mission this past month and one of the books that found it’s way onto my Kindle was this little gem. The Valley of Amazement follows the story of Violet, from the tender age of 4 to beyond her adult years, and how life and the lives of the women around her both past and present are all entwined. From the courtesan houses of Shanghai to a remote Chinese village deep within the mountains. This book was such a beautiful read, at times I found myself crying out for Violet, so desperate to discover who she is and if she is not only capable of loving but deserving to be loved too. It was all kinds of amazing.

Flat hunting!

Ok, so this isn’t really a typical favourite as such but this is my blog and my list – so I can justify it! Mr.Man and I are attempting to go into the big wide world as adults and get ourselves a place to call home. We’ve been scouring the internet and slowly but surely getting to view one or two places. Nothing so far but watch this space – big things could be happening!

Well there you go, another month gone and another month well under way! I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying by…I hear there’s less than 20 Fridays  to go till Christmas…oh me oh my! It’s not too early to start my Christmas shopping list is it??

What have you been loving lately? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Monday, 11 August 2014

52 Reason why I love you - deck of cards project

52 reasons i love you deck of cards

Looking for a crafty way to surprise that someone special in your life? Well, how about a keepsake made from a deck of cards?

Most commonly known as the 52 reasons why I love you project, I adapted it ever so slightly and put my own spin on it. Meet; Our first year together…and a few reasons why I love you.

This year, Mr.Man and I celebrated our first year anniversary with a trip to Barcelona. That was our gift to one another but I still wanted to surprise him with a little something. I’m a sentimental old fool and when I came across the original project I jumped at it, it was perfect. Cute, easy to make and a brilliant keepsake. Then I had a light-bulb kind of moment, the sky illuminated and the bells rang…you see, our first year together, that’s 52 weeks together…and there are 52 cards in a deck. Do you see where I’m going with this?

So, I started with a list. A list of things we had done together over the first 52 weeks of our relationship. It’s a good job I have a diary because there are so many things I wouldn’t have remembered, and I wanted them in chronological order too!

I picked out some of my favorite memories of us, as well as some lyrics from songs and a few quotes. Before I knew it, I had something for every card!

What you need:

  • A deck of regular playing cards
  • Permanent markers
  • Binding ring
  • Single hole punch

How to:

Step 1: Punch a hole in the top corner of the joker playing card. Use this as a template for punching the holes in the rest of the deck.

52 reasons i love you deck of cards

Step 2: Get creative! Write down your reasons, memories, lyrics etc on the playing cards. I wrote on the numbered side as it offered more white space. I had planned to put in some pictures too but my printer malfunctioned so I had to settle with words and scribbles.

Other things you could do…attach ticket stubs, photos, cut outs, collages, pretty much anything that’s small and flat will work!

Step 3: Make sure your cards are in the right order then hook them onto the binding clip.

For the front cover, I flipped the card over so the back was facing me, then punched a hole in the corner and put this on top of the deck.

I found one binding clip was enough, but if you want a more book like appearance you could punch two holes in the cards on the side and use two binding rings. Ribbon or string would also work; just make sure you tie them tight enough to hold but not too tight, so that you can’t freely flip through the cards!

52 reasons i love you deck of cards

There you have it, job done! Putting the deck together took around an hour, getting all my memories and quotes together took a lot longer! If you have a quick look on Pinterest you’ll see some amazing takes on the project that are sure to inspire you!

Oh, and his reaction? He loved it of course!

What other flip book deck of cards creations do you think would make great gifts or keepsakes? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Friday, 8 August 2014

Malmaison - Liverpool

Malmaison Liverpool review

This past weekend I treated Mr.Man and myself to a stay at Liverpool’s Malmaison boutique hotel. I’ve been wanting to stay here for a long time and finally had the best excuse to book a stay – Mr.Mans’ birthday! Malmaison often run special offers so I bagged myself a great deal which included an evening meal, a room for the night and breakfast the next morning – I also upgraded our room from standard to river view as it didn’t actually cost that much more!

Malmaison Liverpool review
The view from our room

The Malmaison is situated on Liverpools’ picturesque waterfront, with stunning views of the river Mersey, The Wirral and the historical Liver bird buildings. It’s the perfect location for those planning a trip to the city who want to enjoy all it has to offer but stay just on the verge of the buzz. It’s a stones throw from all the city of Liverpool has to offer…and did I mention the views?

I checked in with no bother on Saturday afternoon and headed straight up to our room on the 6th floor! Oh me, oh my! Not only where we on the top floor but we had the most amazing views of the cruise port, the Mersey and the Wirral. Does anyone else just love watching cruise ships? I don’t know why I do, they just fascinate me!

Malmaison Liverpool review

Everything about the room put a smile on my face. It was a little on the dark side, with heavy dark wood furnishings and deep pink and purple accents but when you stay at a boutique hotel you tend to find that. It did feel luxurious and fancy. The room itself was big and we had plenty of floor space to move around. The wardrobe had lots of hanging space, including an iron, ironing board and some really nice plush silk covered hangers – a very nice touch! The other side of the wardrobe contained the mini bar, kettle and tea tray, electronic safe and hair dryer. The room also had a smart tv, chaise lounge, free standing mirror and desk.

Malmaison Liverpool review

You know me and my tea…so yes I’m going to rate the in room tea tray/service. I wasn’t impressed. Very little variety, and the kettle had seen better days. I actually think the tea service was a bit of an after thought – they don’t plan on their guests drinking much tea or coffee! I mean, when you’ve got a dedicated side table already set out with two bottles of wine, glasses and a cork screw…well, a brew looks a little less appealing!

Now, one of the main reasons why I wanted to upgrade our room is because the upgraded room came with a bath tub and a rain shower. We had a rain shower when we stayed at the KPLodge back in March and…wow! That thing was amazing! And of course, who doesn’t love a long soak in the tub?

Malmaison Liverpool review

Only this was no ordinary bath tub! It was HUGE! I could sit in the bath, cross legged and have the water up to my neck and still have room to spare! I could have done a lap in this thing – the only thing it was missing was some Jacuzzi jets! Now that would have been impressive! The shower was equally as luxe, the only thing I was unsure about was how it was on the same raised platform as the loo…it just looked odd to me! Still, very nice!

Remember I said I booked the room as part of a package deal? Well, our evening meal didn’t get off to the best of starts. The restaurant was in use untill close to 7pm for a wedding so we couldn’t have a table till then. That was no good to us as we had tickets to a Reel Big Fish gig that started at 7pm! We found out we could eat in our room or in the bar instead so we chose the bar.

The Mal Bar is a favourite amongst my friends and to be fair, it’s bloody gorgeous. Very plush and it really gives off that exclusive kind of vibe. We got a seat no problem and the place was fairly empty. We ordered some drinks and had a look at the menu. Trying to order the food however was a problem. Considering the bar was empty, our drinks seemed to take forever and the floor staff kept disappearing. Nobody seemed keen to take our food order until our drinks had been served. Eventually, drink in hand, they took our order and that was that. We waited a good while again for the food, so we ordered another round of drinks and hoped for the best. Again, the bar was relatively quiet so I wasn’t too sure what was taking so long! Finally, the food arrived and as soon as we took one bite into it…the wedding party descended on the bar.

Malmaison Liverpool review
Strip burger in the Mal bar, fries appeared too at some point! That pot of goop is a relish that was surprisingly delicious!
The Mal Bar isn’t the biggest of places and the wedding guests seemed to think they had some right to every available space in the bar, they were everywhere! Draped over our table, the back of our chairs, the arm rest, you couldn’t move in there and it made for a pretty crappy atmosphere. But oh well, the food was delicious and we were starving. Settling the bill however seemed to be a problem. Rowdy wedding goers kept pushing in front of me at the bar, then when I finally managed to get the bill they’d cocked up and  tried to get me to pay for the food too (the meal was pre-paid for in the package deal). More waiting. More waiting. Eventually they took the food off the bill, I paid for the drinks, we jumped in a taxi and headed to the gig!

Breakfast the next morning was pretty much the same story. They included a continental breakfast in the deal but if you wanted anything from the cooked breakfast menu it was an additional £2 per plate. The continental offered very little, a few croissants, some fruit, yoghurt, juice and cereal. It was served in the tiniest of rooms so during peak season that would be fun to navigate. Off the cooked menu we went for something we thought would be quick and simple; bacon on English muffins and egg and soldiers.
Malmaison Liverpool review
Bacon on English muffins

Everyone around us had a complaint. They’d been waiting so long for their food, or such an amount of time for the milk for their tea. Our order was no exception. We waited close to half an hour for the hot food…the egg had been hard boiled and my muffins had been sat somewhere so long the bread was all sweated on the bottom. Talk about disappointing!

I loved the room, and the hotel itself looks amazing both inside and out but there is something severely lacking in the service. I’ve had better service, and certainly better breakfasts at much cheaper hotels. When you stay in certain places and pay a certain price you expect a certain level of service, and I just don’t feel like we got that at the Malmaison. Could it just be we were unfortunate? I’ve spoke to a few people and received the same mixed feelings.
Would I stay here again? It would have to be a pretty good deal to start with and I’d be inclined to head into the city center for breakfast that’s for sure.

Have you stayed at a Malmaison hotel? What kind of service do you expect when you stay in hotels? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Girl With All The Gifts - M R Carey

the girl with all the gifts by m r carey

The fabulous Frankie of reached out a while back and asked if any bloggers out there would be interested in joining a bloggers book club. Books you say? Blogging you say? You can count me in I say!

The Girl with all the gifts by M R Carey

Melanie is a special girl.

I went into this book expecting one thing and found something completely unexpected within its pages. For one thing…there was zombies!

Those, I wasn’t expecting.

The girl with all the gifts is set in a post apocalyptic society, set years after the outbreak. We meet a young girl, Melanie, who is confined to a prison cell on an army base. Daily, she is strapped to a chair at gun point then wheeled into a classroom.

Something just isn’t right with this picture. Something isn’t right with Melanie.

Melanie’s life on the base is very structured, regimented and unusual, considering she is just a sweet 10 year old girl, the adults reactions around her are certainly unsettling. I mean, what 10 year old could still say 'please' and 'thank you' with a gun pointed to her head? As Melanie goes through the motions of her mundane existence, she starts to realize something is not quite right…and where do her classmates keep disappearing to?

I actually wasn’t expecting this book to be as compelling as it turned out to be! See, I really like films, shows and books that are about zombies and I’m always intrigued by the different takes people have on the flesh eating nasties. The girl with all the gifts certainly puts its own spin on it that’s for sure…especially when we learn these are not your traditional zombies.

After the base is overcome and our host of main characters are thrust into the outside world, we finally start to see just what’s been going on and what is left of civilization. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture that’s for sure. But it does paint an honest picture.

From start to finish, what really captured me about this tale was its take on humanities fight for survival, its need to win the war and live on even when the odds are stacked against them. Imagine being one of just a handful of what’s left of the human race, to see your species extinction on the horizon and realize you’re going to lose this war.

The novel is a page turner and an easy read. The science side of things (yes, we get some science!) is interesting and understandable. The tension is palpable during some scenes and I found myself gasping out loud once or twice when certain mysteries were revealed. Zombies, yes, but scary? Not so much. It's the living that scared me more. I actually liked the brief take on evolution and am keen to see (if it ever happens that is!) how this new world Carey has created evolves. If there was ever a sequel I'd be first in the line for my copy!

Have you read The girl with all the gifts? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,