Monday, 29 December 2014

Little Changes Make Big Differences | Motivational Monday #4

Hello!

It's nearly the New Year! For me 2014 flew by and I feel like I accomplished quite a lot, especially as this year I started this blog! However there are a lot of things I plan on doing to make next year even better than this one, which I will explain in Saturday's post. But those things are nothing, without motivation! (you see where I'm going now?) 

So this week's motivation is ...

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life

This really struck a chord with me because every year I end up breaking a few resolutions and then completely giving up because it doesn't matter right? So every year you end up in the same place, still addicted to chocolate, not meeting deadlines or not making enough time for your friends. It doesn't have to be that way! Who knows, maybe making an effort to eat healthily will give you the clearer skin you've always wanted. We make resolutions for our own happiness. we believe these changes can lead to a better life. So we should put in the effort to put them into practice!


Be sure to look out for my New Years Resolutions on Saturday!

How do you make sure that you stick to your resolutions?

Have a wonderful week!

Hattie
xox

Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 in Review

Hello!

2014 was a pretty good year, so I wanted to share my pick of the best in 2014!

Year in Music
Several artists have released some really great albums this year, the ones that really stick in my mind are definitely 1989, x and 5 Seconds of Summer. 1989 was amazing for many reasons. It sold 1.3 million copies in the first week and redefined album sales due to her decisions to pull her music from Spotify. It's also a pretty spectacular album, all the songs could be singles! Taylor Swift also conquered the world this year, but that's a story for another time. Other notable albums are x by Ed Sheeran and 5SOS's debut album. Ed Sheeran's songwriting is so beautiful and it's very exciting to see what amazing things 5SOS have up their sleeves.

Year in Film
I haven't really had the time to go to the cinema this year, my weekends are filled with homework these days. However the films I did see were excellent. The film adaption of The Fault In Our Stars was everything I hoped it would be and I thought they did a really good job of portraying the well loved novel. Another film that did extremely well was Frozen, some hate it, I personally love it, but nobody can deny the catchiness of the songs. I think the film is hilarious and has a really warm heart. I predict it will be a winter favourite for years to come.

Year in Books
Gone Girl is the stand out book that really stuck in my mind as one of the best I've read this year. It gripped me from start to finish and really got me excited about reading after a period of not reading as much. You can read the full review here. I've also been into a lot of YA fiction this year, I finished reading all the John Green books and fell in love with Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. YA is my favourite genre for many reasons, mostly because it's written with my generation in mind. 

Year on the Internet
Every year the internet surprises us and brings us amazing things, this year is no exception. YouTubers and bloggers capitalised and released products of their own, especially books. Those who have power on the web are now being taken seriously by the rest of the world, which is great! In significantly smaller internet news, I started this blog! I'm rather proud of it to be honest, I've thoroughly enjoyed working on it, writing posts and promoting this year. I'm so pleased to have joined this amazing blogger community too!

Year in My Life
This year I feel like I grew a lot as a person (warning, this gets a bit deep) and this blog definitely helped me with that. I got to meet new people through the blogging community and gained confidence through having my own space that was all my own work. This is the most creative and productive I've been in a long time! I'm also proud of how I've learned to stand up for what I believe in, particularly in feminism. I think it's really important to recognise your achievements but also to strive for better things, so my New Year's Resolutions are coming soon!
I've had some amazing trips, Washington DC, Austria and Florence. I've made some wonderful memories with friends and family, seeing Matilda and Little Mix. I'm so very grateful for all the fabulous opportunities I've had!
What were the highlights of your year? If you've done a similar post about your year, leave it in the comments, I'd love to read them!

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie
xox



Monday, 22 December 2014

Be Generous this Christmas | Motivational Monday #3

Hello!

As stressful and painstaking Christmas shopping may be, I actually really enjoy picking out gifts for people. It's such a great feeling when you discover something that you know a loved one will adore. I especially love when you actually give someone the present and they (hopefully) like it! 

"We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give" - Winston Churchill


Have a wonderful week!
Hattie
xox


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Teen Girl Gift Guide

Hello!
It's only 5 more days until Christmas and if you haven't finished your shopping I've got you covered as for what to buy for teenage girls (at least, girls like me!) So here are some suggestions for some last minute gifts from the world of online shopping!

I'm not trying to stereotype teen girls, it's an interpretation based on my friends and myself! Other types of teenager are available ;)
The Fangirl



The Beauty Lover
*Some of these are on the pricey side but some of the dupes are just as good and a lot cheaper!*


What are you asking for this year? Where are your favourite places to shop online?

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie
xox

Monday, 15 December 2014

Focus On What Could Go Right - Motivational Monday #2

Hello!

This week's motivation is one that could really change lives if more people took it to heart. Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, focus on what could go right. There are countless decisions we face everyday, options we come across, that get tossed aside because, worst case scenario, you could fall flat on your face! Then it's gone, out of your mind, without any time to think about the best case scenario; you could have the time of your life. I'm guilty of doing this. I think there's too many chances of failure, it's a stupid idea. Honestly?  If you do this too much, life can pass you by and you will miss some amazing things!


Have a wonderful week!
Hattie
xox

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Little Ways To Boost Your Positivity and Mood

Hello!

I've wanted to do this post for so long! I've just come out of a period where everything seemed to be happening, I had lots of tests, I didn't have a lot of time to blog and I was feeling rather stressed about it all. These things really helped to get me through it all and I think I was slightly less of a monster to my family!


Find and save inspiring pictures
 I'm on a bit of a positivity kick at the moment ( like you couldn't tell from this post), my camera roll is almost exclusively motivational quotes and pictures. I've just started my Motivational Monday series (which you can find here) so I've found lots of pictures for that, specifically from We Heart It and Pinterest.

Make a Photo Album of things that make you happy
I like to keep pictures of my friends and family in a special folder on my phone so I can look at them whenever I'm down.

Mini rave
Okay this one might sound mad, but sometimes what you really need is a private dance party (like in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell). My favourite songs for this has to be Shake It Off, She Looks So Perfect and All About That Bass. Just go crazy! 

Appreciate the little (or big) things
If you're feeling particularly poetic, it's soothing to sit and notice things. For example look at the trees and just marvel at how amazing they are or stare at the moon for a while. It's rejuvenating to renew your appreciation for the world and can also de-stress you.

Spread positivity by leaving blog comments
I really started doing this regularly when, during one of the blogger chats, I felt like a few people weren't respecting people's  opinions (including mine) and trying to start arguments unnecessarily. It really bothered me and I was ready to log out of twitter for the night to escape the negativity. However I was reminded that so many bloggers are truly lovely people and I decided to counteract the bad vibes by going on a "compliment spree". I wasn't just writing nice comments without reading the post, these were well earned compliments that I think so many bloggers deserve! There are some amazing bloggers out there that should get more recognition for the quality of their content. Really appreciating that boosts my mood so much!


Have a wonderful week

Monday, 8 December 2014

Mondays Are For Fresh Starts - Motivational Monday

Hello!

Start of a new series here on Hattie Hards, Motivational Mondays. I've seen a few other bloggers do this, notably Sprinkle Of Glitter and I thought it would be a great addition to the blog! I'm going to try to make it a weekly thing so look out for lot's more of these posts! 


This first one is appropriate for the start of the series : Mondays are for Fresh Starts. 
I do love a fresh start, whether it's a brand new notebook or a new friendship, and Mondays are the best time for them. The weekends are always a great time to think of new ideas and reflect on what's gone wrong and how that can be fixed. Monday is when all those ideas are actually put into practice. Let's kick the stigma of Mondays being awful and start the week as we mean to go on.

Have a wonderful week!
Picture from We Heart It

Sunday, 7 December 2014

REVIEW: We Were Liars + E Lockhart Event


Hello!

On Monday I attended a special Waterstones event to see top Young Adult author, E Lockhart, who wrote We Were Liars. I had just finished it when I was invited (read on for my review) and I was so excited to meet her.

 First she talked about WWL and her new book....... How she came up with the concepts and themes that interested her. She told us about how her untraditional upbringing influenced the character of Cadence and the importance of maps at the front of books! She was so lovely and friendly. She asked for questions but unfortunately I was the only one who had one.  I asked about her process, as We Were Liars bounces back and forth through different years. She replied that she uses a special word processor called Scrivener. She wrote all the fairy tale parts at one time and wrote the rest in chronological order. After that scrivener lets her switch around the parts and rearrange it.


We then had an opportunity to get our books signed and have a chat. The lovely people at Waterstones fed us with adorable cupcakes with the We Were Liars cover on the icing. I'd like to say a huge thank you to Waterstones Cheltenham and Hot Key Books for setting up this amazing event. A big thank you to E Lockhart herself for being so friendly and for writing the book that so many of us love.


REVIEW
We Were Liars is about the Sinclair family (specifically the oldest grandchild, Cadence) and the summers they spend on their private island. I really can't reveal much more than that, if you've read it, you'll know it's hard to not give spoilers. It's a tale of pride, confusion and lies.

I thought it was a very thoughtful, extremely well put together book. The story twists and turns, never failing to surprise you as revelation after revelation comes your way. I loved the use of the extended metaphors, it gave the novel a freshness and set it apart from some of the other YA books I've read. Cadence was a fascinating narrator and the other members of the family were captivating. Overall the story was told in a vivid and exciting way; I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from E Lockhart!


Have a wonderful week!



Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Favourites

Hello!

It's that time again. It's only one month until Christmas! Here are my favourites for November.

Beauty: MUA Heaven and Earth Palette 
I was apprehensive about this palette as it was so cheap (£5!) but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. The colours are gorgeous, I've been using Amazonian Bronze the most, it's a shimmery champagne colour. Unfortunately I dropped it and one of the colours completely broke off so you have to be quite careful not to accidentally mix up the colours. I would recommend this and I'll definitely be looking out for more MUA products to try!


Fashion: Penguin Jumper
I really love this year's John Lewis advert, I cry everytime I see it, so when my mum saw this jumper in New Look I knew it was perfect. It's so soft and cosy, I love it.


TV: The Good Wife
I have been watching this show all month. It's a law drama about Alicia Florrick who's husband is the former state's attorney but behind bars for a scandal. The show revolves around her and the cases that she tackles, also focusing on her children and her husband. It's so addictive. I can't stop watching. It's really fascinating seeing how the law works in America. The cast is excellent too. I would highly recommend checking this out on Netflix.



Music: One Direction - Night Changes, Tom Odell - Real Love and 5SOS - Just Saying
These are a few songs that I've been listening to throughout this month.


YouTube: callmekathleenn
I was looking for covers of Out Of The Woods by Taylor Swift when I came across Kathleen. This was only a few hours after it was released so I was really surprised to see a cover of it already. She's an amazing singer too, I could listen to her covers all day. She seems to cover all the songs I like which is brilliant. Subscribe to her!

Life Things: The Wizard of Oz
My school production was this month and I had a lot of fun doing it. Lot's of my friends were in it and despite everything that went wrong in the performances, we ended up with a really great show! I did a bit of everything, I was one of the angry apple trees that had a few lines (huge part I know). All the lead parts were amazing and it ended up being so much fun!

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month
New feature here that I think I'll put in every favourites post. So next month is obviously Christmas so I'm looking forward to all that. Also I'm going to Boston for the New Year which I'm really excited for!

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Lad Culture

Hello!
Another serious post today, this one addresses the growing trend of "lad" culture. It's a problem I've seen take over the minds of almost all the boys in my year and one that continues to anger me every single day. 

I thought that a lad was someone who was witty and occasionally cheeky but good naturedly so. Turns out it is someone who is offensive, objective towards women and makes crude jokes.At least that's what I've gathered from how the so called "lads" in my year behave. A specific example of how lad culture influences their minds negatively is the idea of banter. Again I thought banter was a good natured way of teasing your friend or making witty comments. On the whole, this assumption is correct but I have seen it go way too far, past the point of good nature.

Boys in my year have started to make the claim "there's no such thing as bullying, just banter!" This phrase fills me with so much anger and horror at what my generation has become. This is excusing verbally abusive behaviour as a joke. Of course bullying is real! You can dish out the "hilarious" banter and your victim will laugh along encouraging you with a light hearted smile. But when they get home the words linger, "is that what people really think of me?" It's a horrible way to feel so why inflict it on someone for the sake of "banter"?


Another awful thing I have noticed about lad culture is how women get objectified and only seen as a sum of their body parts. On more than one occasion, I have heard people discussing women in this way, remarking that so and so is hot but her bum lets her down, as if her worth is decreased by the way her body is shaped. I fear this is amplified by the media and how tabloids make it seem okay to comment on some woman's post pregnancy stomach or how they look when popping to the shops. Facebook pages such as "Lad Bible" also amplify these attitudes towards women.

The reason that I'm so worried about this issue is that these influenced people will grow up thinking that this kind of behaviour and attitudes are okay. Think how damaging it will be to have people making offensive comments and having opinions on a woman's worth based on appearances. It worries me deeply and angers me every day. I really hope we can slowly start changing these bad attitudes now before it's too late.

Have a wonderful week!


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Top 7 Movie Musicals

Hello!

I'm in the middle of rehearsals for my school production of the Wizard of Oz (more on that soon). It's one of my favourite movie musicals and it got me thinking what other ones I love. They tend to be spectacular and moving, if they have a big budget, there's usually a stunning cast as well. So here's my top 7 movie musicals.

(in no particular order)

1. Chicago
I love the concept and storyline of Chicago. It follows Roxy Hart (Renee Zellweger) as she tries to escape execution for murdering her lover. Catherine Zeta Jones plays the Vaudeville star, Velma Kelly, who is also a murderer and actually won an Oscar for her performance. Other notable performances were from Richard Gere, Roxy and Velma's lawyer, and John C Reilly, Roxy's ever suffering husband. The musical numbers take place within Roxy's mind as she is obsessed with Vaudeville theatre and being notoriously famous. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2003 and is a spectacle to watch.


2. Les Miserables
Last year I was utterly obsessed with this film. I fell in love with the story, the songs, everything. It boasts a stellar cast, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. As well as breakout stars like Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit. What I love about this film is how true to the musical theatre roots it stayed, featuring cameos from musical stars like Kerry Ellis and Gina Beck, even the original Valjean, Colm Wilkinson. It's huge budget meant that it was almost a masterpiece.



3. Wizard of Oz
A true classic. A tradition for so many families at Christmas, Judy Garland's Dorothy has stood the test of time. It's a timeless story one that I'm sure will stick around for much longer.



4. Hairspray
The very best of feel good musicals, Hairspray never fails to cheer me up and get my feet tapping. It's about a young girl called Tracy Turnblad who dreams of becoming a dancer on the Corny Collins Show but is told she is too fat. Set in the 60s Baltimore, the film addresses the issues of race and body confidence. It's a really fun film to watch, a girls night classic. Did I mention Zac Efron is in it? So what are you waiting for? Go see it!


5. Singin' in the Rain
I think I've only seen this once but it was so good that it stuck in my memory. It's about the transition in Hollywood from silent movies to "talkies", it stars Gene Kelly and is more of a dance film than a singing one. The sheer talent of Gene and his co-stars Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds is mind blowing, watch "Good Morning" on YouTube. I'd love to see more of these old school musicals.

6. Grease
Another great feel good film, I love the story and the songs are so catchy! I always wanted to play Rizzo. It's a classic and I'll always watch it around Christmas.


7. Cabaret
A less popular musical but one of my absolute favourites. It's about a cabaret girl called Sally Bowles who is working in Germany when the Nazis are beginning their rise to power. Liza Minnelli plays Sally and Joel Grey plays the Emcee. It's different and gritty but so beautiful.



Honourable mentions to High School Musical, Frozen and Mary Poppins.

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Feminism: Why It's Important Today

Hello!

I class myself as a feminist. By that I mean I believe in gender equality. I find that a lot of people shy away from the term feminist but still support equality, which doesn't quite make sense. Shailene Woodley made that mistake and when asked if she was a feminist she replied "No because I love men", she has since learned that feminism means equality for both men and women. The term isn't that important but it does help to unite people who believe in gender equality and want to try to achieve it.


I won't  dwell on the common misconception that feminists are "man haters" because it makes me angry, but also because Emma Watson explained it really well in her UN speech. I'm sure you must have heard of it, as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador she launched the HeForShe campaign with a a very effective speech. She talked about how there is no country in the world that has achieved gender equality yet and how there are still so many issues regarding gender, like unfair wages and the right to an education. She also talked about the social implications of unequality like gender roles, which affect both men and women.

I think it's so important that more people openly support feminism and work to change things. So many women still have a status lower than men and don't have the basic human rights they deserve. It happens in every country, in the UK, though technically illegal women are still paid less than men as a result of loopholes. This may be a result of the overwhelmingly male government but the UK is still a world ahead of others. For example, in Afghanistan 1 in 11 women are sentenced to death at birth and have no medical rights. This may have something to do with their religion but it is a matter of interpretation, I will address this in a further post. It's simply awful that in this modern day women are still suffering because of their gender.

I'd really like to talk a lot more about Feminism on this blog. I've recently started going to my school's FemSoc (feminist society) where we talk about the Patriarchy and how we are all affected by the issues caused by gender inequality. I'm going to leave a few links for you to have a click through regarding feminism in popular culture. 

Rights of Women
Feminism - The Guardian

Have a wonderful week!



Sunday, 2 November 2014

October Favourites

Hello!

November is officially here so it's that time again! It feels like this month has gone so quickly and Christmas is fast approaching. Here are the things that I have been loving in the month of October!

Beauty -  Rimmel Stay Matte Powder

This powder does what it says on the tin, it's really effective if you have an oily T-Zone like me and keeps makeup in place all day.


Food & Drink- Urban Fruit Mango & Pumpkin Spice Latte

I've been loving so many different foods this month but I had to narrow it down to two! I've always loved dried mango but some brands are too sweet or not sweet enough, however Urban Fruit finds that perfect balance. They probably have a lot of sugar in them but I like to pretend they are healthy for guilt-free snacking.
My last food and drink favourite is something that everyone seems to be raving about and I feel like I was a bit late to the bandwagon. It is of course the Pumpkins Spice Latte from Starbucks. I'm not a huge coffee drinker but this one is so sweet and milky that it tastes so good!


YouTube - Carrie Hope Fletcher

This month Carrie Hope Fletcher has been doing her "Dear Autumn" videos for the second year running. Each day she does a video with a voice over of her talking about her thoughts and feelings regarding things like her family and her birthday. I could listen to Carrie all day, she has a way of stringing together words so they sound so beautiful and profound.


Music - 1989 Taylor Swift

1989 only came out on the 27th but it's still got it's place in my favourites this month! I have been looking forward to this album for so long and now it's finally here. It is absolutely amazing, it's shot to number 1 in the charts and is set to break all kinds of records for 2014. There isn't a single weak song, they could all be singles. My personal favourites are Style, Blank Space and Out of the Woods. I've had it on repeat all week and will probably end up being a November favourite too! Also Taylor Swift has been killing it on social media lately, posting fans selfies with the album on Twitter non stop. I need to stop rambling now but just scroll through her Twitter feed for the last week and you'll see how amazing she is with her fans.



Blog - Zoe London

This month my favourite blog has been Zoe's because her writing and pictures are of such a high quality and are lovely to read. I love how she's so honest and open in her writing , she comes across as such a warm and friendly person. My favourite posts this month were "My Dyed Hair History", "Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Glaston-Berry" and "How Blogging Changed My Life" ,  Give her blog a follow here. You won't regret it.


Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Week: 20 - 27 October

Hello!

This week has been half school and half holiday because our half term break started on Wednesday. I've been lucky enough to have gone to see three different plays this week so it was more special than most. Therefore it would be a good week to do one of these posts! I love reading them but my life isn't interesting enough to do them regularly.

Monday & Tuesday

School, not interesting at all sadly.

Wednesday

I had school again but in the evening I went on a drama trip to the Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham to see The Pantaloons' adaption of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. None of us really knew what to expect, having read sections in English it all seemed a bit depressing and well ... bleak. However, much to our surprise, the production was very different and funny. It took you through the book in the original chapters, of which there were over 50. As well as an abundance of chapters, there was also over 50 characters, played by only 5 actors. It pokes fun at Charles Dickens and the frankly ridiculous plot points (spontaneous combustion anyone?). I loved the use of song and over the top characterisation. It was a great night and I'll be looking out for more of their shows in the future.

Thursday

Another day, another show. This time it was in Birmingham to see the Importance of Being Earnest. We had some time before the show so we went up to visit the huge library. It was opened a year ago and has a staggering amount of books there. We went right up to the top which boasts a panoramic view of the city. However we didn't get to explore the lower levels as it was closing for the evening. I wish I lived in Birmingham just for this library! We ate at the Mailbox, in Zizzi. We over-ordered garlic bread and I had a margarita pizza, both of which was utterly delicious.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a touring production, starring a whole host of established British actors such as Nigel Havers, Rosalind Ayres and Niall Buggy. They played it as a play within a play as an amateur village production. This was very funny in the first half as all the actors had a lot of chemistry with each other, you could tell they were all good friends. It stayed very true to the original play and the characters were just as I imagined them to be when I read the play.

Friday

I went to the Cheltenham Racecourse Christmas Gift and Fashion Fair on Friday. It had so many different stalls, all packed into one room. There were so many high quality products on offer, from gorgeous cashmere bobble hats to delicious fudge. However they were clearly not marketing their products to teenagers! Everything was so expensive that I didn't actually get to buy any presents for anyone.

Saturday & Sunday

Saturday was rather normal, I just did a shift at the charity shop I work in. On Sunday my family and I went on a walk with our dog to the village where my parents used to live. It ended up being a lot longer than expected but luckily I had lots of podcasts to listen to.

Monday

I went to see The Hypochondriac on Monday starring Tony Robinson. You probably know him from the British TV show, Blackadder where he plays Baldrick. This play was by far the funniest out of the three that I saw this week. At certain points during the play, there would be songs about hypochondria (thinking you are terribly ill all the time). My mum and I were laughing so much that tears started streaming down our faces! I would highly recommend trying to go see this!

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Harry Potter Tag *with gifs*

Hello!


I saw this tag on My Life As Anu and knew I had to do it, I'm a huge Potterhead!




1. What is your favourite book?
The Goblet of Fire. I feel like this in book, JK Rowling really flexes her writing muscles, introducing lot's of new characters and creating such tense and exciting scenes.

2. What is your favourite film?
The Prisoner of Azkaban, it's a lot darker and more exciting than the first two. That's probably because of the change in director, Alfonso CuarĂ³n. The main trio really grow up as actors and the whole thing looks slicker and more professional. Also it's where questions about Harry's parents are finally answered.

3. What is your least favourite book?
The Order of the Phoenix because the whole plot is basically Harry not listening to advice and awful things happening as a result. It's just a bit annoying

4. What is your least favourite film?
The Halfblood Prince. I didn't hate it, just wasn't memorable

5. Which parts of the books/films made you cry?
Nothing really! The saddest bits were the deaths of Dobby and Sirius.


6. If you could marry any character who would it be?
Either Harry or George Weasley

7. Who is your favourite character?
Snape, that's a no brainer

8. Who is your least favourite character?
Umbridge. Even the mention of her makes me shudder.

9. What is your favourite line?
"After all this time?" "Always"



10. What would your Patronus be?
Ideally something cool like a fox but probably something pathetic like a sloth

11. If you could have the invisibility cloak, resurrection stone or elder wand, which would you choose?
Invisibility cloak because the original fable said that it was the only good choice that could defeat death

12. What house would you be in?
Gryffindor because I'm mainstream like that. People try to tell me I'm Ravenclaw though, I feel like the Gryffindor values suit me best.


13. If you could meet any member of the cast who would it be?
Alan Rickman

14. If you were on the Quidditch team, what position would you play?
I'm not sporty at all so not a chaser or a keeper, I couldn't bear to be a beater so I guess I'm a seeker.

15. Were you happy with the ending?
I'm satisfied with the general ending but the only thing that bothers me is Hermione and Ron. I agree that they should end up together, in fact I'd be annoyed if Harry and Hermione got married instead. I just think JK rushed their relationship, throughout the series they had limited chemistry and then in the last book it's fit in around all the action so it isn't focused on.

16. How much does Harry Potter mean to you?
It means an awful lot! It was one of the first series that I got stuck into and cemented my love of reading. I've reread them so many times and the characters feel like friends. It perks me up when I'm down and I love how most people have read them and relate to them.


Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

Friday, 24 October 2014

Book Reviews - Gone Girl + The Understudy

Hello!

I've been meaning to do more book reviews on this blog so here are my thoughts on two books that I have recently read!

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

This book has created such a buzz in the literary world in the past few years; the film adaption has just come out starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. I felt like I had to see what all the fuss was about and pick up the book from my school library. On Amy and Nick's fifth anniversary, Amy goes missing. With a seemingly staged crime scene in their living room and mopped up blood in the kitchen, all fingers point towards Nick. He swears their relationship was fine but the media is turning on him and his portrayal of the anguished husband is unconvincing.

I was thoroughly impressed with this book from start to finish. I've read a few books with some pretty tense, twisting plotlines, but none as well written and exciting as this! There were too many revelations and sudden plot twists to count, though the main one was introduced earlier than I would have expected. I love how Gillian Flynn plays with your perceptions of Nick and Amy, even at the end I wasn't quite sure how I felt about each of them. Nick is an especially interesting character, during his narrative you are never quite sure whether you can trust him. Gone Girl explores their marriage psychologically, examining how they reacted to each other's "real" selves. The ending was not as explosive as I had expected and I'm still not sure whether it provided closure. It's been a while since I physically could not put down a book as the temptation to read on was too great. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a passion for thrillers or murder mysteries. Definitely one of the best books I have read in the last few years!


The Understudy - David Nicholls

I really love David Nicholls writing; One Day is one of my all time favourite books (review here), however I wasn't sure whether this would be as brilliant. Stephen McQueen is a distastrously unsuccessful actor who is stuck playing dead bodies and being an understudy to Hollywood superstar, Josh Harper. His life is a disaster which only gets worse when he falls for Josh's gorgeous wife, Nora.

This was a really fun, light read and I really enjoyed it. Steve's life is comically hopeless but he's so lovable that you keep rooting for him to succeed even when everything is falling apart. If there's one thing that David Nicholls does really well, it's creating likeable characters. The scenes between Nora and Steve are my favourites as the dialogue is witty and Steve is really at his happiest. My only criticism would be that Steve's constant failings got pretty depressing after a while. I've always wanted to go into acting so to hear all these ways which things can go wrong is so disheartening. Despite that, I really enjoyed it!


Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo


Monday, 20 October 2014

Why I Love The West End

The West End is a truly magical place. Every night, stories unfold in splendour, actors get their big break and countless audiences fall in love with the captivating characters. The moment you step inside a theatre, you are transported to another world, where anything can happen! You only watch for a few hours but in that time your perceptions can be changed, your imagination broadened and your world transformed. You may watch an inspiring tale of one witch's fight for acceptance or a happy-go-lucky jukebox musical that's sure to make you feel good. You might even see a thought-provoking play about one boy and his mystery. Whatever you see, you are guaranteed an unforgettable night when you go to the West End.
My personal experience with the West End started with Mary Poppins when I was 5. Laura Michelle Kelly dazzled as the magic nanny, from that moment on I dreamed of being a leading lady like her.  I would play that soundtrack non-stop, it drove my family crazy but I wanted to be transported back to that night. 10 years later and my passion for musical theatre hasn’t faded. I recently saw Matilda and was stunned by the talent of the young stars. The set was spectacular and the characters unexpectedly hilarious. Nothing’s changed, I still play the soundtrack to be reminded of that night. That’s what is so special about the West End, you want to relive the performances again and again.


Plays are just as brilliant. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time simply mesmirising to watch,  the whole production was stunning and challenged your perceptions of autism. Now I can afford to watch amazing National Theatre productions from the comfort of my local cinema. Stars like Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller, Cary Mulligan and Bill Nighy perform to thousands across the country. The intimate feeling and energy of live theatre in the West End is unmatched however.

Theatre is one of the greatest forms of escapism. In one evening you meet and grow attached to a group of characters whom you will never forget. In that one evening, those characters will seem like friends or family to you. You will see yourself in the characters, weep when they weep, laugh when they laugh. Theatre gives such joy to so many and the West End is one of the finest districts in the world. That is why I love the West End.

Hattie xo