Books to Love: All The Bright Places

I fell in love with this novel almost immediately and not once did it lose its tight grip on my heart. Violet and Finch are strangers until they meet at the top of the school Bell Tower, both leaning over the edge prepared to jump. She’s a writer who lost her sister in a car crash, an accident she blames herself for. He’s an eternally troubled soul with a lot to say about everything. It’s clear that his mental state is vulnerable but he still manages to breathe life into Violet. As their stories unfold and their lives entangle it becomes clear that they both have their own mountains to scale. As they begin to explore Indiana for their school project, they learn a lot about their home, a lot about each other and a lot about themselves. They fall in love in the most perfect way and teach each other about all the little things in life that matter. Something that we all need reminding of every now and then.

I have a pull towards these types of novels, especially ones that brace the subject of suicide but in an uplifting way. I didn't get to the end of this book feeling depressed and cheated, instead I felt satisfied, like it had served its purpose. I loved the characters and I thought for a while about whether I identified more with Finch or with Violet. In the end I think there are parts of them both that resonated with me and I devoured this book from cover to cover wanting to know where their journey would take them next. 

This novel is a bittersweet story but one that delicately and honestly explores the issues surrounding mental illness. It’s beautiful and heart-breaking and one that you will keep with you for long after you’ve turned the last page.

Have you read All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven? What did you think?

The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate

When the Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask first came out, it was plastered all over my favourite blogs and youtube videos. I heard people raving about it for months until I caved in and bought it. It was a product I loved immediately. I loved how my soft and healthy my skin would feel in a morning - it gave me a great foundation for my makeup! You can read my thoughts on that product here on my blog. 

When The Body Shop announced that they were releasing more products in the Drops of Youth range, I knew it was something worth looking into. So the next time I was in a store I did just that. I browsed the Drops of Youth section for what felt like hours until I feel decided on the serum. I've used a couple of serums before but none that I could really rave about. This one was different. I use it on a morning and evening under my moisturiser and it makes a massive difference to how healthy and fresh my skin feels.

Having loved the serum so much too, I later went back and bought the day cream. Using all of the products together has done wonders for my skin. I struggle with acne and the medication I use for it makes my skin really dry. Anything I can get that provides a huge surge of moisture is a winner in my book and these products do just that. 

It's very rare that you feel or see the effects of a product straight away but within one day of using these products, my skin felt so much smoother and looked so much healthier. Even though they are designed as an anti-aging product, I don't see anything wrong with using them because of the other benefits they provide.

I cannot recommend these products highly enough and if you're something to invest in your skincare, try the Drops of Youth range from The Body Shop. Next on my list is the eye concentrate!

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Tips for Learning a Language

I've always been a bit obsessed with the idea of learning a new language. Not just because it's a useful skill but because it's fun! Now that I'm not at university I find myself craving something productive to do, I love learning new things and now is as good a time as any to brush up on my French skills. I never really enjoyed French lessons at school because I wasn't very good at it. But being at home and being able to do things my own way at my own pace has made such a difference! So I've decided to compile a list of a few things that have helped me along the way and might help you too!

Basics | You're going to find the process of learning a new language a lot easier if you nail the basics first. Think of it the same way you were taught to read and write in primary school. You have to start with simple concepts, ideas, words and sentences before moving onto more complex work.

Dictionary | This is tip that my GCSE French teacher gave me - carry a pocket size dictionary in your bag wherever you go. This way, if you come across a word or phrase that you don't know how to say in French, you can quickly look it up. The other useful thing about most language dictionaries is that they have a grammar section at the back which will come in handy when you're learning how to conjugate verbs and the like!

Repetition | There's a great app called Duolingo that gradually builds up your vocabulary and language skills. You can set yourself a daily target and set notification reminders so you don't miss a day. The tasks only take a couple of minutes each so it's easy to get in a daily practice without it being too much of a burden. I've found that the repetition of these tasks helps the vocabulary stick with me. 

Read | I've challenged myself to read a Harry Potter book in French and it has been such a huge help in building my vocabulary. It's taking me forever to read because I have to keep stopping and looking up words but my understanding of the vocabulary and grammar has improved massively! 

4. Immerse yourself | In this technological age, it's so easy to immerse yourself in a language without actually having to immerse yourself. There are thousands of websites, podcasts and apps that can help you learn a new language quickly and effectively. You can listen to conversations in other languages, read news articles and watch videos. I use an app called Euronews that lets you watch news snippets in another language and provides the transcript underneath so you can follow along.

I'm really enjoying getting a better grasp of the French language. Let me know if you have any other tips or tricks, I'd love to hear them!