Sunday, 17 November 2013

Book Review: Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

I have just finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and so thought I would share my thoughts on the book with you.  This is my first book review and hopefully the start of more to come.  I am the kind of girl who has always loved to read but nowadays never make the time to actually do so as much as I would like to.  I recently heard some friends chatting about how good Gone Girl was so I decided to take some time to relax and delve into it for myself.

Gone Girl is definitely a thriller and I just could not put it down.  The plot is built upon a married couple and how their relationship has developed over the years.  The author draws the reader in throughout the first half of the book, keeping you guessing. Flynn creates a puzzle which you are desperate to know the answer to and she writes in a way that influences you begin to believe that the conclusion may be obvious.  She then cleverly turns the plot in another direction that leaves you questioning everything else that is written from then on in.   Right up until the last page I was gripped and wondering what twist would come next.  I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the ending as I was predicting that it would all be even more dramatic.   

As the reader you move from feeling sorry for characters, to detesting them and then feeling sorry for them again.  Flynn explores the closeness of relationships and how the characters know exactly how the other will react. The reader also realises how easy it is for us all to be swept along and reach a common conclusion rather than being patient and stick with our instincts until answers are uncovered.

I would recommend Gone Girl if you are looking for an easy reading plot that will keep you reading chapter after chapter.  I am a little bored of the usual chic lit so I really enjoyed this type of fiction and would love to hear any other suggestions for future reads.

Have you read Gone Girl?  What did you think of the book?
Have you got any other suggestions for future reads?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How to Save for a Mortgage

Buying your first home is a huge step for anyone to make as it is very likely to be the biggest purchase you will make in your whole life.  Getting a mortgage is a huge commitment, but probably the best way to invest your hard earned pennies.

Getting onto the property ladder and getting your first mortgage can be a daunting prospect and can often feel like it is an impossible task.  However, it needn't be that way as if you really want to be able to buy your first home then it will happen.  It just requires patience and a lot of saving!

The first thing that I would recommend anyone who is saving to buy their first house to do would be if possible to move back home with their parents. Obviously this is not always an option for many people, but if it is then however difficult it may be it will be worth it.  Parents are likely to offer you better rates than a landlord and would you not rather give your rent to them anyway?!  This is an option that many young people have chosen at the moment as it can be really difficult to pay high rent and save for your first mortgage at the same time.  It is usually the best option because it means you will be able to save much more quickly compared to renting.

I would also suggest paying off all overdrafts and other short term debt if you have it (excluding your student loan if you have one) as soon as possible so that you can focus on saving for your mortgage.

If you don't already have one then get a credit card.  A credit card is a great way to improve your credit rating and ultimately your chances of being able to get a mortgage.  You may think that you have been great with your money up until now, with no debt but unfortunately mortgage providers will not see this as a good thing as they will have no previous history to show your ability to repay debt.  Obviously, only use your credit card for purchases that you require and are able to repay that month.

Saving for your first mortgage does not mean that you have to scrimp and scrape for ages, it just means that you have to be sensible with your purchases.  Make sure that you budget each month so that you know how much you have to spend so that you can still go out and have fun.  The best way to do this is to set a minimum savings target each month so that without fail you know that you will be able to save at least 'x' amount every month. 

For large expenses such as car insurance it is definitely worth paying a lump sum each year if you can so that you save money as do not have to pay the interest.  Create an online savings account and put a small amount of money in it each month so that when your next renewal is due you can pay annually. Online savings accounts are a great way of dividing up your paycheck as soon as it arrives in your account.  If you divide the money into different accounts as soon as you are paid then you will know exactly how much you have left to 'play with' and will avoid dipping into your savings.

The most important thing to remember when saving for your first mortgage is that it is going to take time but it will be worth it in the end.  The more money you can save for your deposit the better in the long run as you will get a better mortgage rate and lower monthly repayments so when you do get to buy your first home you will have more money each month to enjoy it!

Have you got any tips on how to save money when you are saving to get your first mortgage?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Leopard Print Love

Hello Fellow Shopaholics!  If there is one print I love more than any other it has to be Leopard Print.  I think that there is no better way to style it than with simple black pieces.  I can't wait to style my new Leather Look Skater Skirt with a black blouse and then these killer Leopard Print Heels from Zara. I have also recently purchased a Leopard print mini skirt from the new M&S Autumn collection which I am considering styling with the black blouse and then clashing it with the heels.

Leather Skater Skirt Primark - Get the Look here
Black Long Sleeve Blouse - Get the Look here
Leopard Print Heels - Zara (old)
Leopard Print Skirt £35 - Marks & Spencer

I always think that there is a very fine line when styling leopard print, but as long as you keep it simple and choose the print carefully then you can achieve a chic, sophisticated look that will see you through season after season.

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Peep Show

Hello Fellow Shopaholics!  This is my first outfit post in what seems like ages. I went out for dinner and drinks for my best friends birthday last night and this is what I wore. In true British style the weather was 30 degrees on Thursday and then typically yesterday it was raining and to be honest it felt like Autumn was on its way, hence I opted for long sleeves.

Long sleeve 'No Peep' Blouse £35 - Autograph at Marks & Spencer
Black Leather Look Skater Skirt - Similar from MissGuided
Necklace - Dorothy Perkins
Tan Sandals - Topshop
I have been banging on about the new Autumn Winter collection in Marks & Spencer for ages now and this week it finally launched.  I was so excited to pick up the Leopard Print coat that I was lusting over here which I will featured in future blog posts.  I have been looking for a quality nude coloured blouse for a while now and when I found this Autograph 'No Peep' Blouse in M&S I just had to snap it up.  The 'No Peep' really does mean that you cannot see through it despite it being such a light colour and you do not have to wear a cami underneath.

The blouse has black leather detailing so it worked perfectly with a leather look skater skirt which also toughened it up for more of an evening look.  I then added a chunky necklace from Dorothy Perkins and my Tan Heels.

Even if you are not usually a fan of M&S I would definitely take a peek at the new collection.  Belinda Earl and her team have done a fantastic job of revitalising Womenswear at M&S.  Their Leading Ladies Campaign launched this week and features Helen Mirren, Katie Piper and Ellie Goulding.

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Sunday, 1 September 2013

What's in My Make Up Bag?

Hello Fellow Shopaholics!  I thought that I would share with you my everyday beauty favourites that are currently in my make up bag.  I love sharing make up tips with other girls and without the advice of friends, my sister and other beauty blogs quite frankly I think I would look like a little girl who had gone through her mums make up bag!  These are the products that I use for an everyday look.

The Mascara
Firstly, my us girls tend to go through pretty much every mascara until we find one that we like.  Maxfactor False Lash Effect Fusion mascara in black has to be my all time favourite.  I think it usually costs around £11.99 but I always buy it in bulk in Boots when it is on offer 3 for 2. It gives a lovely thick dark look to your lashes. I have tried all of the Falsh Lash Effect range by Maxfactor and this has to be the best by far.

The Foundation
I use L'Oreal Infallible Foundation in 200 every day as it gives a great coverage and I find that it is not quite matte yet not shiny.  You can use only a little for everyday and then even if you cake it on for an evening look it does not look too thick.

The Concealer
Rimmel Wake Me Up in 040 is perfect to hide those dark circles or blemishes and the shade blends evenly with my foundation.

Bronzing/ Blushing/ Contouring
I have included my absolute favourite products to use for bronzing, blushing and contouring.  Bella Bamba by Benefit gives a fantastic pink pop of colour to your cheeks. Powderazzi is a gift I received for Christmas that includes three fantastic shades from Benefit - Hoola, Coralista and Dallas which I also have the full size version of aswell.  I love Benefit bronzers as they give really intense, long-lasting colour.  I also use MAC Powder Blush in Buff Matte which is great as an alternative more subtle colour for my cheeks.  My fave bronzing brush is my Autograph one from M&S.  I have to say it is getting a little tired so any suggestions for a new one would be greatly received as they no longer sell this one.

That Gal from Benefit is my go to primer as it is easily applied and smells fantastic.  It offers a great base for your make up and is light enough to wear everyday.

Eyeliner is probably my one item of make up that I could not live without.  I have used the Rimmel Kohl pencil in 061 Jet Black for as long as I can remember.  I have used others but always go back to this one as it is just so easy to apply and blends easily. As you can see this one is starting to become a very small pencil so will need a new one soon!  For an everyday natural look for my brows I use the Rimmel Eyebrow pencil in 001 Dark Brown.

As you can see my make up bag is pretty simple and affordable.  I think it is great to experiment with new products and love finding ones that work for you that you keep going back to time and time again.

What do you think of the items in my make up bag?
Have you ever used any of the items I use on a daily basis?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Undercover Blogger

Us bloggers write because of the love of it and more often than not it begins when we are inspired by something else we have read.  We want to share our own thoughts, ideas and creativity with other like-minded readers.

With so many different social media sites these days, it can often be frustrating that everyone seems to know everything about everyone else. Let's face it we all like to have a nose about what other people are doing from time to time on Facebook, but at times it can feel a little false especially when 'friends' are judging everything that you post.  Many people now use Facebook purely to keep in contact with people and tend not to actually share a lot on their personal profile.  On the other hand, some share every breathing moment.  So why is it that we don't want to share on Facebook with our 'friends' yet we are happy to blog to the whole world?

The great thing about a blog is that although it is available for everybody far and wide to read, being a small drop in a huge sea of content online means that people are only likely to come across your blog if you tell them about it. It is not uncommon for bloggers to choose not brag about their blog or share it on sites such as Facebook as it is seen as a personal space, written for readers who have similar interests and not for 'friends' to judge.  You know the type - Flossy who always posts about how wonderfully happy she is and having lots of fun, but you worry that if she saw your blog would probably laugh in your face and poke fun.  Believe it or not, Flossy is probably not wonderfully happy and is actually jealous.  However, understandably so choosing not to share your blog with Flossy just avoids that uncomfortableness.

Some bloggers choose not to tell anyone about their blog.  Some bloggers choose to tell everyone.  Some of us just prefer for our readers to come naturally because they like what we blog about and for only our close friends and family to know about it.Close friends and family can actually be your best fans and enjoy talking to you about recent posts (and give you ideas for future ones!)

Whoever you choose to tell (or not tell as the case may be) if you are deciding to start a blog, remember the reason that you are starting it in the first place. It is your little piece of the worldwide web and it is for you to do with it as you please.

Fellow shopaholic bloggers - have you shared your blog with people that you know?
Have you ever had any concerns about sharing your blog with 'friends'?

Love Laurashopaholic xx


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bank Holiday Weekend in Pictures

As the Bank Holiday Weekend now seems like a distant memory, I thought I would share with you a few photos from mine.  If you don't already, please follow me on Instagram here.

The Marina, sunset and ducks in Abingdon on the River Thames.

A Homemade lunch buffet, Sunflowers, a Yankee Candle burner, just some of the lovely presents from friends at work.

Hope that you all had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend - what did you get up to?

Don't forget to enter my SheInside giveaway for your chance to win a gorgeous Polka Dot dress.

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bank Holiday Giveaway!

Hello Fellow Shopaholics!  Hope that you have all had a lovely weekend.  To beat those back to work Bank Holiday blues, I have a great little competition for you to enter.

For your chance to win this gorgeous brand new SheInside Polka Dot Smock Dress as seen in my SheInside review all you have to do is follow these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow Laurashopaholic on Twitter then RT about the Giveaway here

2. Follow Laurashopaholic and +1 on Google+ here

3. Leave a comment below telling me how you would style the dress if you were the winner!

I am really looking forward to hearing how you would style the dress.  The lucky winner will have their photo featured on Laurashopaholic!

Good Luck!

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Entry to the competition ends at midnight on 2/9/13 and one winner will be selected at random.

The winner will be contacted and the dress will be posted free of charge via Royal Mail.

Details of the giveaway winner will be posted on a future post showing the photo of the winner in their chosen style.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

TFNC London Top 5 Dresses

TFNC London is my go to online retailer when I am on the look out for a stunning statement dress.  I have chosen my Top 5 Dresses from their current collection.

1. Paris Sequin Dress £55 in Oxblood
2. Neva Sequin Dress £50 in Navy/Gold
3. Lumie Bodycon Dress £35 in Black
4. Suzanne Lace Bodycon Dress £42 in Black/White
5. Theresa Bodycon Dress £37 in Red/White/Black

The TFNC London range is known for luxe pieces at affordable prices and you may have seen items from the brand in Topshop and Asos.

When looking for a dress for a particular occasion or night out, I always tend to go for items that I will be able to wear again and so the timeless factor is always high on my list of priorities along with luxe quality.  TFNC definitely always ticks the boxes for me.

Have you got any dresses from TFNC?
What are your favourite dresses from their current collection?
What do you think of my selection of Top 5 Dresses?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Capsule Wardrobe

Hello Fellow Shopaholics!  My best friend (and my number one blog fan!) set me the challenge of pulling together a capsule wardrobe of 10 pieces that if I could only have these items and nothing else in my wardrobe, these would be what I would have.  It was a tricky task for me and I managed to pick 10 items (plus a belt sneaked in, so technically 11!) from my excessive wardrobe full of clothes.

The Casual Basics
I tried to keep the selection simple and versatile. So firstly I just had to pick my Converse and leather-look leggings to team with three key jersey tops.  I chose a Basic Grey Vest from H&M, an Oversized White Fleck Top from Topshop and a Nautical Stripe Top from M&S.

The Leather Jacket
When putting together my capsule wardrobe, it was a no brainer for me to choose my All Saints Leather Biker Jacket.  I love this jacket as it works to well to thrown on over pretty much any outfit and it is such a high quality, timeless piece. The leather is so soft and just gets better and better the more I wear it.

The Dresses
Picking the dresses was really hard to do, but I eventually chose these three as I think that all of them can be dressed up or down.  I love midi dresses so I included this Strapless Black Bandeau Midi Dress from MissGuided, a Short Sleeve Navy Midi Dress from New Look and then finally my Acid Wash Motel Penny Babydoll dress for something a little shorter and more floaty.

The Heels
Last but not least, my capsule wardrobe would not be complete without my Topshop Tan Heels.  They are perfect to add to any outfit and they are just so comfortable that I could wear them from day to night.

I think that my capsule wardrobe would actually work really well for a weekend away as there are a few outfit combinations for both day and night.  Hope that all of my readers have a lovely bank holiday whatever you are getting up to.

What items would be in your capsule wardrobe?
Are you going away this Bank Holiday weekend?

Love Laurashopaholic xx, click here

Friday, 23 August 2013

Tartan Trend

The tartan print trend is always a classic Autumn favourite and I think it is great styled simply with black to keep it chic.  I do not own anything tartan, so thought I would pull a few ideas together.  I have to say that I am not very confident when it comes to clashing prints so my preference would probably be to add a pop of tartan to a dress such as this Black Fantasy dress from Zara with an accessory such as this umbrella from New Look. I also think that this Tartan Tee from Topshop would look great teamed with this Leather skirt also from Topshop.  The kilt is another easy way to nail this trend and it can be styled so easily with basic tees.

Clockwise from top left:
Oversized Shirt £25 - Glamorous via Asos
 Tartan Tee £30 - Topshop
Leather Skirt £85 - Topshop
Black Fantasy Dress £29.99 - Zara
Knitted Cardigan £45 - Glamorous via Asos
Kilt Skirt £40 - Asos
Enzyme Check Smock Dress £36 - Topshop
Umbrella £7.99 - New Look

How would you wear the tartan trend?
Would you be confident and clash it with another print or would you keep it simple with black?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Topshop Wish List

I am in need of a little bit of a splurge in Topshop and these are the items on my wishlist.  I was lusting over this Leather look T-shirt dress when it was first in stock earlier this year.  It then went out of stock and for summer they had a white version which I pondered over until again it went out of stock.  So when this black one returned I knew that I just had to have it.

Now that summer sadly seems to be coming to an end, I have been on the look out for some heeled ankle boots to wear in the Autumn.  I love black and gold so I think that these heeled boots with a gold buckle will do just nicely.

The cami dress is big at the moment and although I already have a couple in my wardrobe, this pink number caught my eye.  I am not sure that I even own anything this pink in my wardrobe, so I am not sure whether or not it will make it past this wishlist.

What items are on your Topshop wish list as Autumn creeps up on us?
Do you think that I should purchase the cami dress in pink?

Happy shopping!

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Making a House a Home

Moving into a new home is exciting as it is the start of a new adventure. When you start on a new adventure at different times of your life I find that it can often remind you of the amazing people you have around you supporting you.  I thought I would share with you a few home styling ideas, the majority of which were gifts from dear friends.

Having our own home means another excuse for shopping!  I love home styling and making a space truly your own.  It needn't be expensive and you can get some real gems in shops like Home Sense and TK Maxx.  I also love looking in M&S, Next, Ikea and Laura Ashley from time to time, usually to pick up ideas and inspiration.  In fact, Marks & Spencer have a Bank Holiday Home Event starting today giving you 20% off home and 30% off furniture.  The M&S Bank Holiday Home Event lasts until 27th and is available online and in-stores.  I can't wait to have a browse and share with you my top picks in a future post.

Where do you purchase your home accessories from? 
What is on your wishlist from the M&S Bank Holiday Home Event?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

SheInside Review

As much as I love the high fashion street brands such as Topshop and Primark, from time to time there is nothing better than searching online and finding new retailers. SheInside is an online store that I have only in the past couple of months stumbled across.  The website is full of an eclectic mix of hidden treasures and is updated with newness daily so I thought I would do a SheInside review for all of you shopaholics. You can also watch my SheInside Review on the Laurashopaholic YouTube Channel, see my most recent SheInside Wish list and my outfit post to show I styled this SheInside Black Crop Top.

I wanted to share with you my favourite pieces from the site that I have been lusting over.  There are so many dresses and tops on the site that initially I was like a child in a sweet shop!  However, if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is, so I thought that as well as sharing my wish list with you I decided I would give the website a try and do a SheInside review of my experience to help my fellow shopaholics...

Design and colour cardigan dress was £21.70 now £11.17
White Long sleeve polka dot blouse was £13.32 now £9.01

I love this Cardigan dress as I think that it would look fabulous thrown over so many different outfits.  The tie dye print means it would make any outfit instantly festival or beach ready.

I am on the look out for a polka dot blouse and I think that this one will be perfect to wear either with leggings or tucked into skirts.

I have already purchased this Beige short sleeve floral straight dress.  See how I styled it on my SheInside Review video.

Polka Dot Smock Dress - SheInside £13.49
This polka dot smock dress was my first purchase from SheInside a couple of weeks ago.  I had read very mixed SheInside reviews and so despite loving many of the products, I was a little unsure about what to expect.  I have to say that I was not disappointed when this little number arrived.  The website offers free worldwide delivery, which I think is very reasonable considering that the prices are really great value.  I was therefore not expecting delivery to be fast.  I think it took a couple of weeks to arrive and when I opened the package I was actually really impressed with the quality of the dress.  As with all white dresses bought online my first worry is always that it will be see-through and this one isn't as it is lined.  There are however, no tags inside the product, so no branding or care labels.  You can see the dress and packaging in my SheInside Review video.

It was only available in one size and I would say that it fits a size 8 and no bigger unfortunately.  Also, it is a little short if you are anything taller than myself only being 5'3 and even I find it a little on the thigh flashing side.

When I emailed SheInside with any query that I had they got back to me within 24 hours and are generally helpful even if their English is not great. The only problem that I have had is everything that I order always tends to go out of stock super quickly so I would definitely recommend buying any items you love as soon as you see them or they will be gone!

If you would like more information and to see the items that I have purchased then don't forget to watch my SheInside Review on YouTube.  'Thumbs up' if you find it useful and subscribe to my channel to keep updated on my latest videos.

Have you purchased anything from SheInside?  If so what was your experience like?
Did you find my SheInside review helpful?
Please add your SheInside review below.
What is on your SheInside Wish List?

Love Laurashopaholic xx

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Monday, 19 August 2013

Laid Back Midi

Hello Fellow Shopaholics!  Hope that you all had a lovely weekend.  Today's post is a casual weekend outfit featuring a Midi Dress that I picked up online from SheInside. Yes it is a midi dress and not a Tee tucked into a chiffon skirt! Although I would have loved for them to be separate as really like both the top and bottom half of this outfit and can think of loads of ways I would wear them both!  I love how casual it feels, yet looks like more effort has been made than actually has (always a bonus!)

I styled this outfit with tan accessories including sandals from Topshop which are my go-to flats when I want a girlie casual, comfy look.

T-Shirt Midi Dress - SheInside £14.36

I think that this particular dress has actually sold out online now, but you can buy a similar one also on the SheInside website here and also in grey/yellow here which is now in the sale for £9.21.

Love Laurashopaholic xx