30.8.10

Book Review: Wolf Hall

Hello!

After collecting interviews for my In the Spotlight: Get to know your bloggers feature, it seems that the best bit of advice for new bloggers is to blog about things that you love.  I love, love, LOVE to read (so much so that Mr B calls me BW [Book Worm] rather than my actual name) and thought that perhaps it would be an interesting regular post to include on here.

The book I've just finished is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Following the success of historical fiction such as Gregory's 'The Other Boleyn Girl', Mantel "brings the opulent, brutal world of the Tudors to bloody, glittering life."  Quite a tagline right?  It focuses on the life of Thomas Cromwell (the guy who ultimately managed to get Henry VIII his divorce from Katherine of Aragon) from son of an abusive blacksmith to his role as Earl of Essex.  David Starkey has described Cromwell as "Alastair Campbell with an axe" and it seems that Mantel's aim was to make us reassess that description.

Right, so now onto the book itself.  It's difficult to read.  I anticipate that these historical books will be a bit heavy-going but this was beyond that.  One very strange thing is that Mantel rarely mentions Cromwell by name - it's always "he".  Which, as you can imagine, gets very confusing in scenes containing multiple male characters.  Luckily I'd read about this in a book review before I purchased Wolf Hall so I knew what to expect, but I can imagine that having not know that piece of information beforehand it would have been a complete mind-twister!

I have to admit that when I said "the book I've just finished..." I was bending the truth slightly.  Ok a lot.  Because I haven't finished Wolf Hall and even to me, that is just unacceptable.  No matter how bad the book is I refuse to put it down in the hope that it'll get better, or even just so that I don't disappoint myself.  Silly, I know, but there you have it!  I had to give up on this book 50 pages from the end.  As you can see from the picture it's a mammoth read of 650 pages....650!!!  And I'm sure I would have been still reading this book in a month if I'd chosen to finish it.  You see girls, it's very dry (a bit like this review I'm thinking....perhaps not the best book to start this feature off with?!).  After about 300 pages I realised that Cromwell isn't as bad as history would have us believe.  I started to wonder why we hadn't heard more of his personal life, where he took in people to his household and educated them, where he adopts his sister's children following her death from the plague.  My eyes have been opened to another side of him now.....I don't need another 350 pages about it!!  And the worst part?  This book isn't even the whole story.  Oh no, there's a sequel.  In fact, this book only goes up to the night of the death of Thomas More.  There's much more to find out in the next book.

But will I be reading it?  I doubt it.  I really commited myself to this book, and as a person who doesn't give up, I was gutted when I had to admit defeat.

Overall, the best summary of Thomas Cromwell is found on page 465:
"When the cardinal [Woolsey] came to a closed door he would flatter it - oh beautiful yielding door!  Then he would try tricking it open.  And you are just the same.... But in the last resort, you just kick it in"

This book succeeds in re-educating us in the life of Cromwell, but this didn't have to be dragged out for 650 pages + another book.  If you love The Tudors on BBC2 (with the yummy Henry Cavill as the Duke of Suffolk) and you're made of stronger stuff than me, then perhaps you'll enjoy this book.  Give it a go if my review hasn't completely put you off....but I'd suggest getting it from a library rather than going out to buy the book.  Spend your money on make up instead!

Has anyone read this book already?  What did you think?  And what's the verdict ladies?  Would you like to see another book review?  I promise the book I'm reading now is more interesting!

T x

27.8.10

In the Spotlight: Tattoologist

Welcome girlies to the first of my new regular feature posts...."In the Spotlight: Get to know your bloggers".  Every fortnight or so I'll be interviewing a different blogger.  These will include my favourite bloggers, the 'Big Bloggers' as well as new, up and coming bloggers who look to have promising futures ahead of them.

This fortnight's feature blogger is ....NA Ridyard of Tattoologist.
It was a cold Saturday afternoon when I discovered the inspiring Tattoologist blog.  Jam packed with photographs, this blog is a visual display of tattoo glory.  An encyclopaedia of tattoos perhaps.  From small and dainty tattoos to out and out works of art, this blog is bound to have a tattoo to suit all tastes.  Go and have a look.  I dare you to come away without feeling the inking itch.  But not only is she a fantastic blogger, N.A Ridyard is a sweet and attentative one too.  Regularly answering followers' questions via formspring, she also readily helps by posting photos of tattoos requested by readers.  Perhaps a beauty blog isn't the place you'd expect to see an interview with an all-out tattoo enthusiast, but we are all aware how closely tattoos and fashion are linked in today's society.  So without further ado, I introduce you to the lovely N.A Ridyard.

1.  Let's start relatively easy...sum yourself up in 5 words.
Constantly thinking up new ideas.

2.  What's your blog all about?
My blog is where tattoos, photography and fashion meet.  It only reflects a small part of what tattoos are all about, but it's the part that interests me the most.  The tattoos I post are mainly small and simple.

3.  What (or who) inspired you to start blogging?
The lack of good tattoo magazines in WH Smith.  As well as my own research for my own tattoos back then.  I remember finding all these great tattoos, but there wasn't one site where you could find them all collectively.

4.  What do you do for a living?  What do you hope to be doing ultimately?
I'm a student right now, when I graduate I will hopefully be doing something that I enjoy for a living, something where I can create.

5.  Have you got any tattoos?
Yup, it's in white though.

6.  Any plans for more?
As of now, nope.

7.  Can you tell us a little-known fact about the art of tattooing?
It hurts, haha.  Tattooing has been around for hundreds of years, and everyone has a different interpretation on tattooing.

8.  Where's your favourite place to see a tattoo?
Favourite place would probably be the wrist area, and the ribs.  Both can be covered up, as well as shown.

9.  Who is your ultimate tattoo icon?
Angelina Jolie would definitely be my tattoo icon.  Each one is perfectly placed, and her tattoos are gorgeous on their own, but also work well together.

10.  Do you prefer black and white tattoos or colour?  Or both equally?
I prefer black & white tattoos, having said that, I'm not saying they're better than colour tattoos.  It all depends on what the tattoo is etc.

11.  Pharrell Williams has recently had his tattoos removed from his forearms.  Do you think getting a tattoo is something that people are rushing in to these days?  Is there any advice you could give people considering a tattoo?
There have always been people who rush into tattoos, and some that spend hours researching.  There are plenty of people who don't regret their rushed tattoos, and there are people who regret the tattoos they spend hours researching on.  So it all depends on the design and the person.
My advice to people who are going to get a tattoo is to make sure they will like that design forever, and that it will be relevant forever.

12.  Which style of tattooing is your favourite?  E.g. old school, Japanese style...
I prefer simple black and white tattoos.  Especially words, I love word tattoos.

13.  Which blogs do you like to read?
I love to read the typical popular blogs, style scrapbook, after drk, Carolines mode, happy because and fashion toast.  I've also recently come across Park & Cube, which I love.
I also like reading up and coming blogs; Cindiddy (http://www.cindiddy.com/) and Scissor Sisters (http://www.scissor-sisters-scissor-sisters.blogspot.com/)

14.  What can we look forward to on Tattoologist?
Hopefully you will see a Tattoologist book in the future!

15.  Any tips for upcoming bloggers on how to make their blogs a success?
Tips would be to blog and blog and blog.  Don't give up, it takes time.  And to blog about things that excite you, make you happy and things that you want to share with everyone.


I'd like to say a big thank you to N.A Ridyard for being my first interviewee.  Hopefully this blog was enjoyable to read and perhaps introduced you to a blog you previously hadn't read.  I really recommend you have a nosy at Tattoologist, if only for the beautiful photography.

What do you think of tattoos...yay or nay?  Do you have any?  I love to hear tattoo tales, so please share below!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of In the Spotlight!

T x

24.8.10

House of Harlow *Love*

All images taken from asos
How fabulous are these pieces?  My love for Richie has been cemented.  I love the rings, but Santander won't love me if I give in to temptation.  Perhaps just one....?

What do you think girls?  I need encouragement - should I go for it?!

14.8.10

Does my bum look big in this?

Hey ladies,

Isn't it great when you get in contact with a friend you haven't seen for ages?  And when the conversation flows so freely it leaves you with a warm feeling inside and a vow that you won't leave it so long next time?  On Thursday I met up with an old work pal who I haven't seen for 18 months and we had a great time; putting the world to rights, gossiping, followed by my all-time favourite....shopping.

Image taken from Nando's
First stop was everyone's favourite - Nando's.  It was here that when the conversation turned from work, to boys, to friends, to diets, that it raised some interesting questions about body image.  Or more specifically, mine.

A couple of years ago I was a lot heavier.  Through hard work and "lifestyle changes" (as the books would put it) I've lost 74lbs.  I am extremely proud of this achievement, but as blogger Alice Linley-Munro says in this month's Glamour magazine: "I just wish someone had told me that the physical act of getting slimmer is only half the battle."  I can't say I'm faced with all of the problems Alice has, but I can empathize with this statement.  At my heaviest I was wearing a size 16-18 and at the time it didn't bother me one bit.  Trouble now is that I have no idea what size I am.  I mean, I can measure myself and use sizing charts to find out, but I have problems believing that I am the size it says I am and still buy clothes in bigger sizes.

So I used our old friend Google to find out what was going on.  According to Thomas F. Cash, PhD, I am suffering from Phantom Fat, a condition quite common in women who have lost weight but have not adjusted their body image to reflect their new look.  More worryingly, Cash suggests that some women create a self-fulfilling prophecy by believing that they are carrying this phantom fat.

Image taken from MSNBC

Don't get me wrong, I am aware of the changes in my body.  I can now feel my ribs.  I have a collarbone again.  I've dropped two shoe sizes and more annoyingly I frequently hit my hipbones on worktops because I don't always remember that there is no longer padding there to cushion the blow.  My trouble is that I just imagine I always looked this way, just 74lbs heavier.  Or perhaps it's to do with my previous experience of myself at my (previous) lowest weight.  This would have been when I was 16 years old and a size 12.  I now weigh less than that but I just can't quite believe it.  I look at pictures of myself back then and imagine that I'll never be that size again, despite the fact that people tell me I'm smaller.  If I was a size 12 and (in my eyes) smaller then, how can the sizing charts can be right when they tell me I'm now an 8-10?

So what do you think ladies?  This post isn't fishing for compliments...after all you haven't seen me to be able to give any.  It's about body image.  We all compare ourselves to other girls and question whether we measure up in the size stakes.  Or at least I do.  But how accurate how your comparisons?  Recently my lovely mum (who very rarely says anything remotely complimentary) informed my that I look "positively frail" when compared to somebody at work who I, hand on heart, think I am the same size as.

Or perhaps you think it's all a load of rubbish.  Labelling problems that didn't need a label.  As Jeremy Clarkson put it on QI - "Why do we have to name everything?"  I'm in two minds.  I know this is a psychological issue (if we would even call it an "issue"), but by giving it a name are we placing too much emphasis on something which maybe just needs time for us to change?  I have to admit, my thoughts on the existence of the condition called "Phantom Fat" changed when I read another online article which suggested that to change negative body image all I need to do is, among other things, start walking around in the dark, lie down with a book on my tummy and try to move it with my (non-existent) muscles to my chest or even just walk around backwards.  These suggestions led to serious doubts in my head.

So a slight change of pace in today's post ladies and I do apologise for it's length.  However I'd love you know what you think.  Have any of you lost weight and find it hard to adjust to the new you?  Are you still plagued with the idea that you're the size you were when you started your diet?  Or do you think that this is all a load of rubbish?!

Thanks for reading
xx