Louis Vuitton Mini Pochette Accessoires – First Impressions and Review.

I think that with all my reviews of this brand, the fact I love Louis Vuitton isn’t a particularly surprising thing. So when I went up to London a couple of months ago, I decided to treat myself and go into New Bond Street Store to buy myself a new little goodie.

It was part of my 24th birthday celebration, and I had some business to attend to whilst in the London flagship store (a post about that will be coming soon). So, 3 months in, and what are my thoughts on this very popular accessory? Have a read, and I’ll tell you.

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Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote – First Impressions and Review.

When it comes to designer bags, I think I’ve invested wisely in particular brands/styles. If you’re curious about the pieces I’ve bought, then please take a while to look through my Neverfull review and Speedy review posts. However, recently I found myself at a bit of a loss when it came to deciding between my two Louis Vuitton’s. Due to the ever-changing nature of British weather, I needed a tote bag (for University and workimg_4073) that wouldn’t be as open as my Neverfull, but was both waterproof and smart. I also needed something that could double as an overnight bag, but wouldn’t look too oversized.
Through my research, I kept stumbling upon the Longchamp Le Pliage bags, and was intrigued by all the positive reviews that I found. For the price point (around £75) this line of bags has had devotees from the Duchess of Cambridge to It-Girl Alexa Chung, and was on the rise in popularity in my town.

So, after deciding upon a colour (Blue Mist – currently in stock for anyone curious) I had my sent from Selfridges to my work address, and I instantly fell in love with the practicality of such a well-constructed bag.

Made out of water-resistant Nylon, with a wipe-clean exterior and interior, this bag is incredibly roomy. I can easily pack my laptop, University books, change of clothes and my everyday essentials for a night away, and still have room to spare. With only a small inner pocket (big enough for some loose change and cards for ease of access) it is a real tote bag in all senses of the word. The Le Pliage also comes with beautiful cowhide snap closure and straps. At the moment, these straps haven’t lost their rigidity, so I do find that they can slip off my shoulder as I’m carrying it, but I’m sure that once they get a little more worn in, they’ll be fine. The straps are a lot thicker than that of the Neverfull, but I don’t find this an issue.

With a zip along the length of the entire bag, along with the snap closure, I feel quite safe carrying belongings in here as I think it’s quite secure. I’ve used this bag as a day-to-night bag, and even from University to date night, which is something I’m pleased that it can accommodate with. So far, it’s proved quite durable, and has dealt with some pretty horrific weather without anything getting wet, which also impressed me.

The Longchamp also has this nifty trick of being able to fold up to the size of a paperback book, which will be useful for the travelling that I intend on doing in the next week.

img_4069All in all, I’ve found no faults with this bag so far, apart from the slight grievance about the rigidity of the leather straps. However, I’m not sure over how durable it’ll be in the long run, but we shall have to see. For £75, I would definitely purchase again.

I bought my bag via Selfridges, and found the delivery and packaging quite satisfactory (you get a tracking number and necessary documentation) and my bag is in the colour Blue Mist – a choice so I could transition this bag from winter to summer without any clashes.

But if you’ve got a Longchamp or anything similar, I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment!

Longchamp’s Website

Holiday Guide -On-the-Go Travel Essentials To Pack.

Feature image credit – Design by Aikonik

 

With winter finally coming to the end, there is a definite feeling of spring cheer in the air. And with spring, the time for holidays/vacations is coming closer. Now, I love holidays (as you can tell by reading My Parisian Adventure and Roman Rendezvous posts) and after speaking with Tripping.com, I’ve been inspired to do a little blogpost about my on-the-go travel must haves for the train, plane or whatever automobile you use to get to your favourite destination.

1: Ear Plugs – 50 Pairs – £7.99

dewdpg12bg50As a light sleeper who cannot abide noise, I take earplugs wherever I go (I mean, even if I’m going to Uni and may fancy a nap on the train home everywhere). For
travel, these are perfect as you can just slip them in your wallet, and you can minimise other noise from fellow travellers, and hopefully get some good shut-eye if you’ve got a long journey.

I bought my earplugs at my local DIY shop (a hint – these are the same quality as you’d get in places like Superdrug/Boots, but for a fraction of the price) and I honestly always have at least two pairs with me at all times.


 

2: Portable Charger – Anker PowerCore+ mini – £10.99power_a1104011black_nd01

I think like everyone nowadays, carrying a portable charger isn’t something that’s particularly unusual anymore. For long journeys where a plug socket may be unusable or sharing a car etc. a portable charger is a life saver for long jo
urneys, especially for people who use Kindles or iPods. I bought my little charger off Amazon, and for its tiny size, I’ve been pleasantly surprised over how much charge I can fit in.


 

3: A Book – £6.99+

In being an English student, this probably would514hikoe-jl-_sy344_bo1204203200_n’t surprise many people. But by the amount of people I see on both public transport, and travelling on holiday who don’t have a book does amaze me. I take a book everywhere I go, and even if I’ve got a five minute journey or a five hour journey, I can read the entire time. However, for the longer journey’s I have to be careful over what book to take with me, as size and quality does make a difference. At the moment I’m rereading ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Thing’ by Ned Vizzini, but at the end of this month, I’m going to London for a week and shall need some good reading material.


 

4: Baby Wipes – £1+

These are also crucial for my travelling routine, especially when using sometimes grimy public transport. These wipes can also be used to freshen your face up on a long-haul flight, take your makeup off and just make you feel slightly more awake.


 

5: Makeup Essentials – £37 (Together)

I don’t enjoy travelling with much or any makeup on, but I always take a few products everywhere I go, just in case I want to look a tad less tired. These include my faithful Bourjois 123 Perfect Colour Correcting Cream, Soap and Glory Thick and Fast Mascara, EOS Lipbalm in Strawberry Sorbet, NYX Soft Matte Lipstick in Cannes and my Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair. With these five products, I know I can always look slightly more put together and awake.

 


 

6: A Toothbrush and Mt_401ini Toothpaste – £2+

With travelling, it can be hit or miss when it comes to delays. And for some unlucky people, these delays can be hours of waiting around. By taking a toothbrush with me, I can always make sure I feel minty fresh and know my dental hygiene is being taken care of.

 

Top 5 – Favourite Lipsticks.

Featured image credit – Best Products.com

If there’s one thing I have a lot of, then it is lipsticks. Lip sticks, crayons, liners, pencils, paints. I’ve got them all and more. So today, I thought I’d share my top 5 favourite ones. Some are old favourites, some are new discoveries.

1: Nyx Soft Matte in Prague – £5.50

6da2b99b9b46a4150be806c1cc65f2e4Now, this was a really hard decision. I’m a big fan of Nyx products, and own quite a few of them, but when I had to choose between either Cannes or Prague, I just thought the bright pink colour piqued the title.

Prague is a total deep pink Barbie pink that is such a statement look. I’ve gone through a good few tubes of this colour, and always reach for it if I want a pop of colour.

The NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream’s are such good lipsticks if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but want a good moisturing liquid lipstick. And with a range of colours, they can appeal to a wide variety of customers.

Image credit – Paula_sbi

2: MAC Velvet Teddy – £15.50

41e95e17351c714631c56355898cd43bThis is my go-to colour for the days I want to just slap on the makeup and go. As a fairly matte texture, it does require just a dab of lipbalm underneath, but this lipstick lasts well throughout the day and can really be paired with any makeup look. From what I’ve seen, this shade is a combination of hues, and can look completely different on a variety of skin-tones. I usually pare this with my trusty MAC ‘Soar’ lipliner.

A brilliant staple for your makeup bag.

Image credit  -Polyvore on Pinterest

3: Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in Nude Flush – £6.9979d643ab384fab3de291613280dcc0b8

This is quite a new addition to my collection, but I’ve found myself using it more and more. This Vivid Matte line is quite similar to the Soft Matte’s from Nyx, as they provide a good balance between the matte effect, without really drying out your lips. Nude Flush is quite a subtle shade, and it has been rated as a good dupe for the Kylie Cosmetics ‘Koko K’ lipstick and for £6.99, you really can’t go wrong!

 

Image courtesy of Popsugar on Pinterest

 


4: No7 Classic Rose – £9.95IMG_1011

I’ve preached about this lipstick in my My 9 Staple Beauty Products, and through that review you can read everything about it. But this is such a beautiful pink colour. I find it flatters my skin-tone a lot, has good pigment and despite being mattifying, it doesn’t massively dry out your lips.

 

 

 


5: MAC Russian Red – £15.50

macrussianred1When it comes to red lipsticks, I always go for MAC. Now, for this blogpost, it was a real toss-up between Ruby Woo and Russian Red. However, recently I’ve recently favoured the latter shade just to the slight change in colour hue. For me and my skin-tone, Russian Red is a real, true Marilyn Monroe red, and isn’t as drying as Ruby Woo. I’ve worn Russian Red on nights out, and have been eating, drinking and kissing and there’s only been slight colour loss. MAC lipsticks are mid-range in the price point and I think they are so worth the money.

Image credit – LittleMissChickas on Blogspot

 

If you’ve got any lipstick shades/brands you like, then please let me know! I’m always in the market for buying and testing new ones out, and I’d love to hear your opinions.

 

Winter Wardrobe – Adore Me and My Top 3 Outfits.

With the winter months closing in, and the glint of Christmas on the horizon, there is no doubt in my mind that my favourite time of year is officially here.

Now, my life is pretty hectic at the moment. I’m a full-time Masters Student, who has two other side jobs, along with maintaining time to see my friends/boyfriend. So, when the lovely sleepwear team at Adore Me reached out to me and invited me to do a flat-lay piece (something I’ve always wanted to do, but never tried it yet) about some of my favourite lingerie/outfit ideas, I thought it would be a great idea to incorporate three of my typical outfits all in one post.

So here are my three go-to looks for the big areas in my life:

Work/University

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When I go to University/Work, I find that I want to look smart but ultimately be comfortable. This navy dress is knee-length, so I usually pair it with some tights and a cardigan, and with the statement lace collar, I find that that’s enough of an accessory to make my outfit complete. For a smarter look you could dress it up with a blazer and heels, but I usually go for flats. These black ballet pumps are always going to be classic, yet the sweet cat face gives the shoes a quirky touch to dress it up. For lingerie, this bra is a go-to for me. I love it so much, I have the same design in a number of colours. With minimal detailing on the cups, it doesn’t show through the fabric of the dress, yet gives me enough boost and support to make it ridiculously comfortable.

Date Night

fullsizerender1

Like most girls in relationships, I love dressing out and going out with my boyfriend for dinner/dates. For date-night outfits, I try to keep it quite simple, and let my heels/jewellery do the talking. This simple LBD is a really tried-and-tested favourite of mine, and with the simple neckline but statement cutout sides, I feel it gives the dress some edge. My heels are these gorgeous lace-up booties, which are ridiculously cute but always quite comfortable. If I want to make this into quite a fancy night out, I may wear some statement tights, or even fishnets to make it a little sexier.

This bra is the ultimate thing in padding and push-up. The deep red colour makes it feel quite saucy to wear, and I always feel at my fanciest whilst wearing it.

Loungewear.

fullsizerender

With Christmas fast approaching, I love digging out some Xmas jammies and getting cosy for a night by the fire. These pyjamas are new, but I can really see myself living in them for the next few months. The Grinch is one of my favourite Christmas movies, and I just couldn’t say no to them in the shop. This polka-dot bra is another really cosy piece of lingerie that I love wearing. With minimal padding, it feels almost like a bralet/sports bra, which is perfect for those lazy evenings. I also find the thicker straps to be really comfortable to wear.

This was a super fun post to do, and I really found it fun to think and pair my outfits together.

Visit Adore Me for a subscription service for lingerie and underwear! For all sizes and all types, Adore Me will blow you away with their amazing prices and deals.

Trevarno Skincare – Product Review.

Like I’ve said before, skincare over the winter months is vitally important. Although I usually go for a staple system that, over the years, has been a go to throughout the year, the cooler months require just that extra TLC.
I was very lucky enough to be sent some products by the Cornish-based organic skincare range, Trevarno, to review. And quickly I fell in love with the products.

For Your Eyes

The first product I used, and quickly added to my morning routine was the Organic Eye Cream. Made from a mixture of essential oils, rosewater, eyebrighorganic_trevarno_eye_creamt, beeswax and cocoa butter, this product was designed to reduce puffiness and dark circles. As someone who suffers a lot from looking tired (working two jobs and a full time Uni course will do that to a person), I always use under-eye concealer as part of my makeup routine. But since I’ve added this eye-cream into my routine, I have noticed a visible difference. The cream is very thick and only a few dabs around your eye area will go a long way. It also absorbs easily into the skin, and doesn’t leave it feeling tacky. I particularly enjoyed the cooling sensation that it provided as well. It made me relax at night, but also feel alert in the mornings. The scent wasn’t overwhelming, and so far it hasn’t irritated my eyes. So all in all, a fab product.

Organic Eye Cream retails at £10 for 15ml/£18 for 30ml

For Your Hands

The second product I used was the Organic Nail Conditioner. As part of my job, I work in a bakery, and this is particularly tough on my hands. I’m lucky that I’ve never had real issues with splitting, but I used this conditioner as a preventative.organic_trevarno_nail_conditioner With clear instructions on how to use it, this conditioner has helped with reduction of ridging. With the appearance of a salve, the scent isn’t particularly strong, and I think is well worth the money as you get a lot of product. It’s also made my nails feel softer at the cuticles, and is a good step to use if you have to use nail varnish remover on your nails a lot (I love painting my fingernails, but due to work, I have to constantly remove the colour). I think this would work well for people with real nail issues.

Organic Nail Conditioner retails at £8 for 15ml/£12 for 30ml.

For Your Face

organic_trevarno_day_creamAnd last, but certainly not least, I was sent the Organic Day Cream. Now, I’ve got an issue with day creams/moisturisers. By my dermatologist’s recommendation (yes, I know I’m fancy), I really shouldn’t use products with too much oil on my face. Especially around my T-zone. So I was wary when I tried this. However, despite all my fears I was pleasantly surprised. The moisturiser didn’t flare my sensitive skin up, and I didn’t have issues with clogged pores. I noticed that it also helped calm my redness around my cheeks, and just left me with more of an even skintone. It also made my skin feel softer, and provided an excellent base for makeup. Also, with a pleasant floral scent of lavender and essential oils, I enjoyed the application of it, and it didn’t overwhelm me in the morning.

Organic Day Cream retails at £13.50 for 30ml/£18 for 60ml.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I was so happy with the products I was sent. The eye cream has become a staple in my skincare system for sure now, and I really enjoyed the use of the nail conditioner and day cream. Trevarno’s products are all organic, cruelty free and the ingredients all are ethically and sustainability sourced. They also have product lines for children, men and specialist skin issues, so really a win for everyone.

A big thank you to the team at Trevarno for letting me test and review these products. Please check them out! Links to everything is below.

Organic Nail Conditioner

Organic Day Cream

Organic Eye Cream

 

Trevarno Skincare Website

 

Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM – First Impressions and Review.

As stated in my Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere blogpost, I was saving up for my next Louis Vuitton bag. I knew that this bag would be the fruits of my worklife, and would take a lot of saving and time on my behalf, but I was excited for the opportunity.

Whilst shopping for my Bandouliere, I was shown a Neverfull as a comparison piece, and became enamoured. The structure of the tote bag was something I was sorely missing from my handbag collection, and I wanted this bag to be something that meant a lot to me.

Louis Vuitton Handbag Choices.

Now, like with the Speedy Collection, the Neverfull has different sizes that can make choosing the right bag quite difficult. With three concrete sizes:

  • The Neverfull PM (Smallest of the lot with dimensions = 11.4 x 8.7 x 5.1 inches
    (length x height x width)img_3488
  • The Neverfull MM (Middle size – Dimensions = 12.6 x 11.4 x 6.7 inches)
  • The Neverfull GM (Largest size – Dimensions = 15.7 x 13.0 x 7.9 inches)

The size you choose is all dependent on what you would use it for and what you would pack in it.

From what I can tell, the PM size seems to be quite dainty, the MM seems to be a good day tote/everyday bag, and the GM seems to be a monster of a bag, perfect for luggage/weekend away/hefty office work. However, I knew myself that I didn’t want or need the GM. I’m sure that in the future I’d love to purchase a GM as my definite oversized tote, but for my first Neverfull, I was happy with the smaller MM size.

Also, like with the Speedy Collection, there are a huge amount of different colours, interior and exterior design and personalisation options. I decided to go for the Damier Ebene print (the darkered checkered print) with the Red interior lining. Only a few weeks ago, Louis Vuitton did release the Ebene print with the beautiful Rose Ballerine pink lining, which is a gorgeous mixture, but due to hearing issues with the lining marking quite easily, I wanted to go for something hardier.

For the MM, I paid £835. Louis Vuitton had just done a price increase, which boosted the MM up from £795, which was unfortunate timing on my behalf, but luckily I had saved extra.

Shipping 

I bought the bag online via the Louis Vuitton website, which actually was bit of a palaver, but a phone call to customer service eased my mind. I found that with a bank transfer, Louis Vuitton didn’t confirm when the received the transfer, nor when it cleared. I had to physically ring up and check.

For a UK resident as myself, the bag took a good week or so to arrive from door to door. The shipping was free, and they did give you a tracking number. However, the UPS courier didn’t specify what time they would arrive, so I had to have it shipped to my work address rather than home, as I wouldn’t want it to be delayed or without a signature upon arrival.

The bag came with all receipts, letters and a dustbag, but not in a branded LV box which surprised me. However, I was thrilled when it turned up, and couldn’t wait to use it.

The Review.

As I’ve had this bag for over a month now, I’m comfortable enough to write a review on how it has fared, and what I use it with.

Firstly, the bag is plenty big enough for what I usually carry around. I was really wavering between the MM and GM, just because I couldn’t visualise how big it was going to be (my memory of the size I saw in shop is fairly bad). In my bag I can fit:

  • A Macbook Pro 13inch laptop with charger
  • An A4 notebook
  • Wallet
  • Keys on a large fluffy keyring
  • iPod
  • iPhone
  • A full size deodrant
  • A bagged lunch
  • A scarf
  • A fiction book
  • A 750ml waterbottle
  • A micro umbrella.fullsizerender-1

(Actual image of my Neverfull with everything inside)

Before you ask, yes this makes the bag very heavy. However, it never makes it dreadfully uncomfortable, and I don’t necessarily use the bag for long periods of time when I pack this full. In this brief time I’ve had it, I’ve not noticed any fraying of the straps or any wear to the bag due to how heavy I weigh it down by. This could all change over the years.

Unlike my Speedy, I chose the Damier Ebene print. This choice comes with the treated dark leather straps which are very different from the Speedy’s vachetta leather, that will patina over the time. The Damier Ebene straps won’t change colour, unlike the Speedy. The straps started out initially very firm and stiff, however I am confident that they will soften over the years of use.

Like with the Speedy, the Damier Ebene is a special canvas mix that is waterproof and easily wipe clean, so it’s pretty durable.

The interior of the bag is a gorgeous dark red with black piping, and comes with an deep interior zippered pocket and detachable pochette, that is attached to the bag with a D-ring. The pochette is in the Damier Ebene print and fairly spacious, but can bulge if you stuff it with bulky or circler items. I’ve found that it holds its shape with a compact mirror, small lipstick and tissues. I’ve also used the pochette as a clutch for evenings out, and is plenty big for my cards/iPhone/keys. The pochette can be also used as an extra pocket if you were inclined to keep things in pouches.

The bag also comes with a clasp at the top to offer some security and keep the bag partially shut.

Drawbacks 

The only drawback I’ve properly noticed with this bag is the lack of zip across tfullsizerenderhe whole bag. As the tote is open, all your belongings are on show constantly, which can deter the more safety conscious of us. It’s also a risk for rain. What I’ve done to combat this is I usually layer a thick scarf across my belongings, which can be used to keep some of the rain and eagle-eyed snoops off your possessions. You can also invest in a zippered bag organiser from retailers if you’re so inclined.

Also, as the bag isn’t particularly structured, there can be a deal of sag at the bottom. I’ve had to invest in a base shaper for mine, as I didn’t like how it looked and worried how it could damage my bag. I’ll be doing a review on that when it arrives in the post.

Conclusion

The minor drawbacks are the only issues I’ve had with this bag so far. I think it’s a beautifully designed bag, and spacious enough for my over-packing but couldn’t appear too oversized or out of balance. I love the Damier Ebene print, and I’m happy I chose the red interior. With the base shaper, it’ll help it in shape, and I love using this bag on my heavier workload days, and keep my Speedy for the rainy shopping trips.

However, give me your opinions? If you’ve got a GM, let me know and we’ll have a big handbag discussion in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Snacks + Superb Smoothies.

Feature image credit – Mitch Altman

If you’re like me, you’ll agree that makeup does hide a multitude of sins. It can make our cheeks look chiselled, colour our lips a deep plum or ruby red, or give us cat eyes that even Cleopatra would’ve been proud of.

However, we all know that it doesn’t matter what we do with the powers of Beauty Blenders and foundation, if we don’t eat the right sort of food, it’ll leave its tell-tale marks on our skin.nuts.com_summer_glow_x2_v04 (1)

With bloating, bad skin conditions and an overall just tired look, your body and skin takes a real beating down. I was inspired by Nuts.com to write this post on healthy snacks for healthy skin.

(Now, I’m not a wizzkid or expert in healthy eating. I could easily eat custard creams until the cows came home. But I am passionate about doing little changes to your diet that will help you feel and look healthier)

1: Healthy Snacks

We’ve all been guilty of it. Whether you work from home, in an office, on the go or just in an environment where you can get access to food, snacking can be inevitable. And ‘bad snacking’ on biscuits, cakes, crisps or chocolate, is particularly rife because they are SO moreish. So what I’ve started to do is pack a little snack box of trail mixed and assorted fruits. My personal box contains:

And I find that only a small handful will get me fuller, give me more flavour and more texture than regular refined sugary snacks. I’ve never managed to eat my entire snack box, and can barely eat a third during the day due to how filling it can be. These snackboxes also last a pretty long time, so can be eaten over a few days, and will be the perfect addition to any pantry/larder.

Also, sometimes I add some berries into the mix. Berries such as blackberries, blueberries and boysenberries are great antioxidants and really promote skin clearing. I suffer from keratosis pilaris, and have found that eating foods rich in Vitamin E and Vitamin A foods can really impact on how clear the skin can look.

2: Super Smoothies

At this present time in my life, I’m constantly on the go. I always find time to sit down and eat main meals (such an important thing to do for digestive reasons), but for snacking and drinking, it’s an entirely different story.

quinn dombrowski

Image credit – Quinn Dombrowski

That’s why I love smoothies so much. Smoothies, when made with the right and healthy ingredients can fill a stomach up and can be sipped everywhere. If I’ve got an really early start, I find myself making a smoothie to be a good replacement for a sit-down breakfast, as I can’t eat really early. Smoothies fill me up until my next meal, and they can made of all sorts of crazy things.

My favourite breakfast smoothie is taken from Deliciously Ella’s book:

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 handfuls of frozen berries
  • ½ a cup of hazelnut milk
  • 3 tbsp oats
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Wizzing them up in a blender until smooth gives you a delicious and filling smoothie. Also, with the added cacao nibs, this gives the smoothie a decadent chocolatey taste for a morning treat. Or, why don’t you add a shot of iced coffee to give you a morning caffeine boost.

 

So, I hope this blogpost has helped at all. Like I said, I’m not an expert/trained in nutrition, but I’ve found this works for me. Careful of allergies if you’re going to try any of these recipes out.

 

 

Top 5 Books- Fantasy Sagas

Now, I’m a girl who loves a good fantasy series. Fantasy books and television series can transport you to new worlds, and through the characters you grow to love, or hate, you can witness political backstabbing, murders, battles and mythical beasts.

So, in this Top 5 post, I thought I’d give my favourite fantasy book sagas, for any readers who have yet to stumble upon this genre.

1: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin.a_song_of_ice_and_fire_by_ertacaltinoz-d9fzd8e

I’ve actually done a full review of this book saga on my blog, so I won’t go too in-depth here. So what I will say is this book saga is excellent and intricate. Wars, old grudges and bloodlust makes for very interesting reading, and the saga has been made into an award-winning television series. I would rate this a very obvious staple choice if you want to read any fantasy at the moment.

2: The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss.

the_kingkiller_chronicle_one_and_twoWith two novels published in this soon-to-be trilogy, this saga is a favourite of mine. The story-telling is good, the plot is highly enjoyable and the fact of it being somewhat of a biography for the main character, a mysterious figure known as Kvothe, makes me love it more. I have read and reread this story, and I still find it as enjoyable as when I first picked it up. If you like high fantasy, excellent writing and a host of unique characters, I suggest this.

3: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.51sf-9svtul-_sx319_bo1204203200_

This is a book series you just have to read. And don’t be put off by the bad adaptation of the first book. His Dark Materials really transcend all age ranges and different audiences. Featuring alternative worlds, witches, polar bear warriors and battles with God and religion, this saga is not only brilliant at world-building, but the writing is easy enough for young teenagers to understand.

4: 200px-thewayofkingsThe Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson.

Once again, I’ve done a review on the first book here, but this series really deserves to be on this list. World-building in this series is done masterfully, and if you like battles, magic, different cultures and history, then you’d like this series. The characters are complex and well thought out, and I never felt bored when reading this ornate world.

5: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.

I doubt there could be a fantasy book list without this saga. Written in the 1950s as a sequel to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings revolutionised the world olotr111f high fantasy and epic fantasy and has been influenced authors for years to come. The books are atypical of Tolkien’s florid and highly descriptive writing style, and follow the story of the destruction of the One Ring by the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins and his comrades.  So I would say, if you’re looking for the ultimate of ultimate fantasy novels to read, why not try this? You can’t be worse off. And then watch the movies.

So here are my top 5 choices. I doubt there are any shockers on here, but if you have any comments or queries, just send me a question.

 

 

Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company 2016 Production) – Theatre Review.

Title: Hamlet

Cast: Paapa Essiedu, Marcus Griffiths, Tanya Moodie, Cyril Nri, Natalie Simpson, Clarence Smith, Ewart James Walters, James Cooney, Bethan Cullinane.

Director: Simon Godwin

Venue: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon


As I’ve said before, being an English student has given me the opportunity to watch dozens of adaptations, performances, reimaginations and versions of William Shakespeare’s plays. Howevhamlet_production_photos_march_2016_2016_photo_by_manuel_harlan_c_rsc_187355-tmb-img-820er, when I had the privilege to watch the 2016 Royal Shakespeare Company’s production, I felt like I was watching something entirely new and entirely different.

Although still set nominally in Denmark, the play gives us something new and takes on a west African flavour. With cultural heritage and identity crisis at its core, Hamlet is first shown at his graduation ceremony oversees, but the death of his father makes him rush home to a country that he now feels completely lost in. And with the subsequent marriage of his mother to his father’s brother (later revealed his father’s power-hungry murderer), Hamlet is completely lost in the Danish court.

For the first time in RSC’s 55-year history, the titular character of Hamlet was given to a black actor. And what a marvel he has turned out to be. Paapa Essiedu shone with all the poise and calm of a seasoned actor, but with the young age of 25 and a baby-face to match, it is clear that this young man will become something of a success story in the coming years. When he spoke the immortal and well-loved soliloquy starting with ‘To be or not to be’, it was then we saw the once-suited and smart Prince turn into something new. We watch as tears roll down his face, his eyes half-closed and as though the words are tumbling from his mind. It is then we see Hamlet’s descent into madness and despair.

The cast were all beautifully selected, and fit in their respective roles well. We see Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude (portrayed by Tanya Moodie) fall from a dignified and regal queen, into a shell-shocked mess, and Natalie Simpson’s Ophelia is sweet, suitably sassy and cocky in the first half, but distressingly unhinged towards the end. Edward James Walters also gave a chilling performance as the Ghost, as he rose in a mist of dry ice and traditional African costume, and Clarence Smith’s Claudius was sleek and well mannered. However, one of my personal favourite’s was definitely the portrayal of Polonius. Cyril Nr'Hamlet' Play directed by Simon Godwin performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, UKi has given Polonius a new breath of life, by making him somewhat of a court jester, as well as a scatty and fussy parent.

With Hamlet, so much has been done with it in the past, it may have been challenging to breath new life into this timeless play. However, with a thrilling soundtrack of drums, limb-jerking dancing and graffiti, Simon Godwin’s Hamlet is visceral, raw and gives us a rising star who doesn’t so much as shine but blaze as our mercurial Dane.

Hamlet is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon until August 13th. Book now, or see it live at participating cinemas. Visit The Royal Shakespeare Company website for dates.