20 Years of Buffy

20 Years of Buffy

Friday was the 20th anniversary of the first airing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – one of the defining tv shows of my life. 

Final seasons Scooby Gang
I remember watching the first season on BBC2 with my little sister and my dad, and just thinking here was a show that spoke to me. I was just starting secondary school and those teenage monsters were very familiar. 

Now we were all supposed to be in love with David Boreanaz’s tortured vampire-with-a-soul Angel but I must admit I do love a bad boy – there was a huge poster of Spike (James Marsters) on my bedroom wall.

“I’m a bad rude man”

The monsters as metaphors is a construct as old as story telling but these were monsters A teenage girl with a sharp stick and a great line in quips could kill. That’s a pretty empowering thing for any young woman. 

Buffy dealt with bullies, death, a bratty sister, love, heartbreak, exams and friendships – all the things we all go through. She showed us the way. How many times did you want to quite literally stab your heart breaking ex through the heart with a wooden stake. 

And then there was the kickass soundtrack. I still have all 3 of the soundtrack cds – including the musical episode ‘Once More With Feeling’.

Mr Pointy

I have trouble picking a favourite episode, character etc but here’s my highlights. 
The silent episode ‘Hush’ was masterful. And proves the cast can all act. 

Xander and Willow’s relationship is definitely a friendship to aspire to – he saves her from becoming full on evil Willow with the power of his love for his best pal. And then there’s the Snoopy dance (bless Nicholas Brendon for still doing this at fan conventions). 

When everyone loses their memories and Spike and Giles think they’re father and son (and Spike’s called Randy) 

My ideal tea party

Faith – just too damn cool for school. But also power crazed, murderous and just a tad unhinged. 

Five by five

The Halloween episodes – vamps took the night off but all sorts of havoc would break loose. My favourite was either when everyone became their costumes (Buffy as an actual damsel in distress) or when they get trapped in a haunted house and have to defeat a fear demon – who’s about 3 inches high! 

Squished

Tara and Willow’s beautiful falling in love story. Pretty much the first sane sex couples I remember seeing on tv. Sweet, sad, romantic and tragic. 

😭😭

How much I hated Riley the cardboard soldier and that whole plotline – even more than the Glory/Dawn storyline and I really hated that. 

Eurgh
When did Buffy sleep? Demon fighting by night and school by day. What a hero, or serious caffeine habit. 

How sad I was when it all ended. 

Me too Anya, me too

This weekend I am planning a boxset binge to mark the anniversary – anyone else? 

Book review: Caravel- Stephanie Garber

Book review: Caravel- Stephanie Garber

This has been incredibly well promoted and publicised online so when I got a copy I was quite keen to see if it lived up to the hype. 

Firstly it’s a good looking book, I know you should never judge a cover but it does add something when the book looks good too. 

I’m very into books set at fairgrounds, carnivals and freak shows, I think it’s my preference for the “other” in fiction. 

Caravel is set at something between a carnival and a theatrical experience – a living theatre that has been known to drive people a little mad. 

Scarlett and Donatella are ruled by their strict and cruelty father but Scarlett’s upcoming marriage to a man she has never met could equal freedom. 

However Scarlett has been writing letters to the mysterious Legend, who owns Caravel, and shortly before she’s due to marry, he finally invites the sisters to his private island to play his twisted game. If they go, it could change everything. 

This is YA fiction and sometimes the best books come from this genre. Unfortunately I don’t think this is one of them. The premise is great but it struggles in the execution. 

At times the plot felt a little weak and repetitive, at others the characters grated slightly. It wasn’t the worst book ever, not even close, but I’m not desperate for the sequel (which is bound to be written considering the ending). 

It just wasn’t up there for me. I think Angela Carter ruined this style of Magical realism for me (Nights at the Circus is sublime fantastical writing). 

Book Preview: Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

Book Preview: Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

This ARC was in Illumicrate 6 and I didn’t so much read it as devour it in one sitting. 

I liked Lawrence’s previous trilogy The Broken Empire so I knew his style but this book was just so good I couldn’t put it down. 

It’s fantasy but it’s also a thriller. Nona Grey is given to the child-seller and sent off to the capital where her life is saved by a rather unusual (by our standards) convent. 

Nona comes to see that what makes her different makes her special. 

I desperately don’t want to spoil this for anyone but it’s really good. Lots of mystery and intrigue, great plotting and characterisation. Well written and gripping. 

It’s properly published in April but I already can’t wait for the sequel which probably won’t appear till next year. 

Illumicrate review 

Illumicrate review 

The new Illumicrate has arrived and it was a heavy one. 

The book in the box is Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones and it looks like a good ‘un. Inspired by the author’s love of the film Labyrinth yes, the one with David Bowie in those trousers. There’s also a note from the author and a bookmark. 

As well as that book, there is also a sampler from an upcoming book and an advanced reader copy of Mark Lawrence’s soon to be published Red Sister (a review of which is upcoming). 

There’s a whole bundle of other book based goodies too. 

There are fridge magnets with quotes from V.E. Schwab’s books. 

A really cute pouch featuring Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book and a Magic and Mischief lipbalm. 

There is also a Newt Scamander bookmark, as well as the usual freebies promoting some interesting looking upcoming books and discount codes at the included shops.  


I was really pleased with this box – I have already read one of the books included and am about to read the next one. 

Wedding Wednesday: a prep timeline

Wedding Wednesday: a prep timeline

This is my incredibly scatter brained approach to wedding planning. My wedding is about 18 months away now, but I started planning a while after C proposed. I wasn’t one of those girls who planned their dream wedding as a kid so I’ve had to learn a lot fast. 

💍Get engaged. Or decide to get married. If photoshoots are your thing or a party, do that. We got a new fridge. So rock ‘n’ roll.  

👰Are you going to have a long engagement? Or do you want to get married relatively soon? If it’s the second- pick a date. C and I very romantically picked a date a month and a day after C’s birthday so he wouldn’t forget our anniversary. 

🎁Set a budget. Are you paying for it or is there some money set aside? I had no idea my Dad had been saving since I was a baby, and that has really helped with paying deposits. 

👱Guestlist time! Who do you want to share your day with? Do you want bridesmaids/groomsmen or even bridesmen or groomswomen? 

💒 Start looking at venues. Popular ones can be booked up very quickly.  Depending on what kind of wedding you want, this can affect your venue choices. We are having a traditional church wedding and then a big knees up, very relaxed and informal to follow.  

🌹Once you have sorted the venue – start looking at vendors like florists, photographers etc. I actually found my photographer before I picked our reception venue. Again, try not to leave this too late as popular vendors get heavily booked, especially at peak times of the year. 

🎪What fun features do you want? A photobooth maybe, a band, lawn games? I suggest visiting wedding and event fairs to try these out or look online. Again, once you know what you want – book it. 

🎉Pinterest is your friend. Build inspiration boards for just about anything. I also use Etsy to look for ideas.  

💌Time to send out Save the Dates – most people seem to send these 18 months to a year before the wedding. I plan to send my invitations out about 6 months before so StDs are vital in making sure the people we want there the most can start making plans. 

🎂 Cake tastings are a great way to decide what you want- look online for ideas – most wedding cake makers are really happy to work with you on designs and flavours. 

❤Are you writing your own vows? What about readings? Research some ideas and work with your intended and celebrant to put your service together. 

 There’s lots more to do, from picking out outfits, deciding on hair and make up and designing menus. But I haven’t quite got that far yet and as my planning is a bit topsy-turvy I can’t really say what I’m going to do next.  

Any tips from married folks or engaged types are always welcome in the comments. 

The images are all from Pinterest – search ‘weddings’ for similar inspiration. 

The Pip Beauty Box

The Pip Beauty Box

This new beauty box, named after the founder’s canine chum, is all about championing cruelty free beauty. 50p from each box has been donated to Cruelty Free International. 

Inside are five cruelty free and vegan friendly beauty treats. 

Bloomtown Botanicals Nourishing Mini Soap (RRP £1.40) – made in small batches with plant oils and butters, this vegan friendly Soap comes in a whole range of scents. 

Akamuti Green Clay Face Mask (RRP £2) – sundries green clay that you mix yourself to make a purifying face mask that is suitable for sensitive and problem skin. 

Saturated Colour Lip Vinyl Liquid Lipstick in Frisky Fuchsia (RRP  £7) – a deep pink shade in a liquid lipstick – something of a recent beauty trend. 

PHB Ethical Beauty Black Mascara & Nearly Black Eyeliner (RRP £24.70) – both award winning formulas that complement each other. Made with botanical oils and water resistant, suitable for sensitive eyes. 

There are discount codes in the box for PHB and Saturated Colour. 

For a first beauty box this is well balanced in terms of skincare and make up – and fullsize items to boot. 

Wedding Wednesday: National Wedding Show with the Mothership

Wedding Wednesday: National Wedding Show with the Mothership

On Saturday my Mother Dearest and I went to the National Wedding Show at the Kensington Olympia. I won tickets through an Instagram competition hosted by the lovely Kat from Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride.

Goody bag

There were many freebies on offer, including a goody bag for every ticket holder. Now I love a freebie but some of these were a little problematic – more on that later. 
According to the brochure there were more than 250 vendors present, offering everything from wedding dresses to confetti, cakes made of cheese to flowers. 

It was a bit overwhelming, weddings are big, big business, and the centre was heaving with brides to be, their mothers, bridesmaids and the occasional bewildered groom to be.

Will this turn into a really tiny pumpkin?

There was a Groom Room full of suits and very fancy cars, which C would have loved except he refused to come with me (but did take a Best Man to look at suits). 

I took my Mum – and she was having a ball. I now know I get my love of a freebie from, she’s been married for 37 years, but oh she was lapping up everything we were offered. 

Some of the freebies I gathered

I tried on a flower crown (definitely having one of those), looked at dresses, flowers, table settings, entered every competition going  (please can I have a free holiday), tried cakes, looked at fascinators for Mum, discussed my engagement, our wedding plans and the colour scheme about a million times, are more cake, and looked at about a thousand dresses. 

Fistfuls of leaflets, brochures and business cards

I totally failed to take any photos, there was just too much. 

Wedding magazines galore

Now I want to talk about something that has already annoyed me beyond belief and my Mum decided to bring up several times too. 

The wedding industry is fixated on a very particular type of bride – slim, conventionally pretty, and white. There was very little diversity on show. 

Where were the dresses for fuller figured brides? Where was the ethnic mix of London being represented? What about the lesbian and genderqueer brides? 

Every picture of a bride could have been of the exact same girl. The only suits were tailored for men. There was no suggestion of same sex weddings. I saw no pictures of black or Asian brides, no temples, synagogues, churches or mosques. 

Now, I’m sure a lot of the vendors present would happily work with a wide range of wedding couples, after all, business is business. But I can’t imagine how alienating this vision of skinny, perfect whiteness must be. 

My Mum pointed out that the wedding dresses were stuck in the past – women on the whole are bigger than before – the average dress size is a 16, but so many of the dresses were designed to fit slim, small-breasted, narrow hipped women. Where is my wide hipped, rugby player shouldered self going to get a dress? (I have ideas, but there was nothing for me there – I didn’t see anything on display above a 12). 

The other issues we had revolved around this idea of being perfect- teeth whitening services, professional makeovers, all conforming to a standard not everyone can achieve. 

 My mum was also horrified by all the weight loss products on offer. In the goody bag offered to everyone were weight loss shakes, tea, biscuit bars and offers for discounts on these and other products. 

At a time when even 8 year olds are suffering body image issues, when eating disorders are on the rise, when the standards of beauty are ridiculous, the pressure on the engaged women (and men) is insane. 

A wedding is pretty stressful anyway, dealing with vendors, venues, family politics, negotiating everything you want, wrestling with a budget – you name it, it needs to be done. Yes, there are loads of tools, apps, websites etc to help you, but it’s still a lot to take on. 

And then on top of that the pressure to lose weight, to be made perfect, because obviously your fiancé doesn’t want to marry you as you are – but some ridiculous impossible image of some other you. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best – to have your hair and make up done, to wear an outfit you feel (and look) fab in, but there is something wrong with feeling pressured to change everything about you to fit into a box. 

When my parents got married (37 years and still both alive), there wasn’t nearly as much of this extreme pressure on young women before their weddings. And it really casts a pall over the excitement of it all.