Introducing…

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Hey everyone! I hope you’re all well! I’m so excited to share this post with everyone!

I’ve been thinking about this project for a while now, and I’m so excited to finally launch it! So here it is.

Introducing…

ELLE’S ÉCRIT, ILS PARLENT

I’m going to be interviewing YOU for a series of special features on my blog! The posts will be written in the form of either profiles or Q&A format. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to meet new bloggers and let your followers learn more about you.

There’s no requirement other than you have to have some form of social media or blog. I’d like to feature a wide range of niches. You don’t have to be following me to take part either!

There are a few different ways we can do this. I can either interview you through DMs on social media. This is likely to occur over the course of a few days. I can also email you a list of questions and you can get back to me when you have time, or we can arrange a voice or video call that would last for no longer than 30 minutes.

I’m going to trial this between January and March, but if it’s successful I’ll definitely make it a permanent feature. I’m aiming for two posts a month, so I’m looking for at least six people to participate.

If you’re interested, please fill out this form. I’ll have a look at your social media and blog, and get back to you! I hope you’re all just as excited as me about this!

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Book Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepard

Hi everyone! Today I’m doing a book review on Megan Shepard’s A Cold Legacy. This was the first book that I read this year and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you! I’ve kept this review as spoiler free as possible, and I hope you enjoy reading!

A Cold Legacy is the final book in Megan Shepard’s ‘The Madman’s Daughter’ trilogy. The book is inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The synopsis on Shepard’s website is as follows:

‘After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet- along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward- has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth Von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

‘Then she uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation- and her own intended role in it- which forces her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. Juliet must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones- or make her own.’

As you can probably tell, this book is certainly not an ordinary teenage romance novel. It’s action packed, and takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. It is driven by plot, however, the author uses amazing details to describe the scientific experiments.

In this novel, there isn’t a love triangle. Juliet is planning her wedding. Although she is young, her wedding acts as a nice subplot to the novel. It helps to put the darkness of her secrets into perspective. I also like how Juliet still has elements of normality in her everyday life.

The novel isn’t really a re-telling of Frankenstein. This makes sense though: it would have been an impressive feat to retell three Victorian tales in one series! The author definitely makes good use of elements of Frankenstein. The manor where Juliet is staying belonged to Victor Frankenstein’s family, and the key theme of reanimation is used. Edward also leaves, which mirrors that of the monster. I wasn’t as much of a fan of this part. It seems unfair that he is compared to a monster when he tries so hard to protect Juliet and Lucy throughout the trilogy.

I loved the setting. The novel launches straight into the description, which sets the eerie and creepy tone that is used throughout the novel. Although it is a completely different environment, the creepiness of the mansion is similar to the creepiness on Doctor Moreau’s Island.

I definitely had a lump in my throat while reading the final chapters. I wanted so much for Juliet to have her happy ending. I won’t say if the author grants her it or not: you’ll have to read to find that one out!

I’d definitely recommend these books to lovers of teenage romance. The plot is gripping and although there is a love triangle, it isn’t the main focus of the book. The Madman’s Daughter is still my favourite book from the trilogy (I wrote a review if you want to see what I thought), but I’d definitely recommend reading the rest of the series!

I hope you enjoyed this review! Let me know what your favourite novel is in the comments! I’d love to get some recommendations!

Recipe Testing: Rolo Cookie Bars

Hi everyone! It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve done a baking post! I did lots of baking over Christmas but was too lazy to take photographs, which was very silly! I had a couple of days off university at the start of February so I decided to pop home and bake!

The first thing I made were these Rolo Cookie Bars from Jane’s Patisserie. I’ve been wanting to make cookie bars for so long, so when my mum chose this recipe, I was so excited to make them!

As you’ll know by now, I’m a massive fan of Jane’s website. I’ve made lots of her bakes before. Her Lemon and Blueberry Blondies were a firm favourite, and I’m definitely planning to make her Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins again! Her recipes are very easy to follow and there’s lots for experienced bakers too! I’d definitely recommend going over there if you’re looking for inspiration!

I followed the instructions exactly as they’re printed. I think my bags of Rolos were a little bit smaller but I didn’t find it made too much of a difference. The only thing I wished I had done was saved more to put on top. I did keep back a handful, but a bigger handful would have been more to my tastes!

There was a point when I did doubt if the recipe would come together. Once the dry ingredients and the chocolate was added, I was worried it wouldn’t combine. I looked away for a minute and as if by magic, it had formed a dough!

My pan was a different shape than she suggested, which meant my bars were a lot thinner. I found it a bit hard to press into the tin, which made mine look slightly more rustic than hers. They still tasted fab!

I baked mine for about 23 minutes, and it was slightly over baked. I believe they’re supposed to be quite gooey, but mine were hard, like cookies. That was definitely my fault though! Because my pan wasn’t as deep, I took them out at twenty minutes and then put them back in. I should have trusted myself!

All in all, this recipe is fantastic. It was super quick to make, and definitely satisfies a cookie craving! If you’re a fan of Rolos, they will be perfect for you!

Let me know if there are any other recipe blogs you enjoy reading! I’m always looking for recommendations.

‘Elle’s Ecrit, Ils Parlent’: Creatively Lauren

Hi everyone! Today’s ‘Elle’s Écrit, Ils Parlent’ is with Lauren from Creatively Lauren. Lauren is a lifestyle blogger from the USA. She is an experienced blogger and has created an ebook and Instagram templates. She chats about the creative process behind these, and shares some useful tips for new bloggers!

Ellen: How do you balance blogging with work and home life?

Lauren: It’s definitely hard. I’m a planner so I try to plan time to sit down and write and work on the blog. Currently, where I am in my career, since it’s frontline customer service, it stays at the airport when I clock out. It’s more my husband’s job that comes home. But we make sure we take time to watch our favourite shows or go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch once a week as a lunch date. It does get hard though when I feel like I’m on a roll with the blog and my mind just keeps going and going.

E: What is your favourite post that you have written?

L: That’s really hard to decide. Ever since the rebrand, I’ve been proud of just about all of my posts. I have a couple that I’m going to share. These are my favourites because they touch on topics that can be tough to talk about. The first one is ‘Creatively Lauren: What Went Wrong’. This is one of my favourites because nobody wants to talk about the bad times, or why they felt like they were failing. But I shared this because I wanted others that may be in that position [to know] that it’s okay. I also wanted to give an explanation for my long break. Another one is ‘Why Bloggers Need to Watch the Shane Dawson x Grav3yardGirl Series’. I shared this post because I love Shane Dawson, but this series talked about something a lot of bloggers face: burnout. I think this series is so important for bloggers to watch.

E: I really enjoyed reading your post ‘Our Wedding Day: 3/11/18’. Why did you decide to write about your wedding?

L: There were so many people from work that were invested in our wedding that couldn’t make it [who] also read my blog, so I wanted to share it there. Plus, I ended up taking a huge break and wedding planning was part of that, so I wanted to share it. I also love sharing pictures, and our Sedona wedding was gorgeous.

E: What do you think about the blogging community?

L: I think it’s great, I love the community. I think you get out what you put into it, which goes for any community. I know many people say the community is too saturated or there’s no room. But that’s not the case. The blogging community has room for bloggers. Many niches have their own communities as well. There’s room for everyone to win and succeed, and we all want to support each other!

E: What advice would you give to new bloggers?

L: Just be yourself! So many new bloggers read up so much on tips to “get rich quick” or “explode your traffic in just a month” and that’s just not it. Blog because you have something to share with the world. Be yourself and unique in your voice because the world does need to hear what you have to say, but it wants to hear from YOU. It doesn’t hurt to take advice from others when it comes to getting your blog off the ground, but don’t try to imitate other bloggers just for success. Don’t push yourself too hard when it comes to content. Quality> quantity, authenticity> conformity.

E: Can you tell me more about your ebook and the process behind it?

L: That was so long ago! ‘How to Blossom in College’ came about because I was going through my college experience and realised how hard it can be to start at a new school in a new state, which was the case with me. I was also pretty shy when I started college. I wanted to show others that it’s okay to be nervous when starting college, and give them tips on how to break out of their shell and start their college career on the right foot.

E: Why did you decide to create Instagram templates?

L: I was, and still am, struggling with my Instagram, trying to figure out a way to generate more content. I knew that inspirational quotes were something that people used to Instagram, and I wanted to create a new type of background to put them on. I was going through a big marble obsession and wanted to create templates that included marble.

E: What are your future plans for your blog?

L: I want to eventually publish a paid e-course, and create some passive income streams. But I really just want to continue to help new bloggers and share my opinions and thoughts on stuff. I love helping others and that’s what I want out of Creatively Lauren.

E: If you weren’t working with an airline, what job do you think you would be doing and why?

L: Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that the airline industry is where I want to stay. I started with an airline as my first job when I was 19, back in 2015. It’s honestly all I know. I guess if I wasn’t at an airline I would probably be doing marketing or something business/economics related because that is what I had in my mind when I went into college. But considering I’m still trying to find my career path in my company, I can’t even imagine what I would be doing without it.

E: What is your favourite quote?

L: I would say my favourite quote is “everyone wants happiness, no one wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without any rain.” I love this quote because no one’s life is happy 100% of the time. That’s just not how it works. And going through bad times helps one appreciate the good times. Rainbows are beautiful and positive but are only able to be seen after a storm. That’s how you have to look at life sometimes.

It was great to chat to Lauren, and I can’t wait to see how her blog develops this year! If you enjoyed reading this, make sure you’ve read my previous post where I chat to Syrah from RN Soul. And if you want to be involved, you can sign up here!

You can find Lauren on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

Book Review- The New York Trilogy

We all love a detective novel. Getting stuck into a good whodunnit, following the brainy detective’s methods and watching the bad guy get punished. But sometimes this can become a bit predictable. We know that the detective is superbly clever, that the bad guy will get caught, that society will return to normal. Sometimes we crave something different, more reflective of real life, where the world does not return to perfection at the end of the day.

Paul Auster takes the typical conventions of detective fiction and flips them on their head. The three short stories in The New York Trilogy are all examples of postmodern detective fiction, a genre which subverts the standard conventions of detective fiction. In it, the detectives often investigate larger concepts such as the self and identity.

Yet the novel is disguised as a typical example of detective fiction. In ‘City of Glass’, our detective Quinn is a segregated individual. Divorced from his wife, he is an author of detective fiction. A mysterious phone call leads him on a journey investigating the behaviour of Peter Stillman Snr, who is plotting to murder his son, Peter Stillman Jnr. ‘Ghosts’ follows the life of Blue, who has been tasked by White to watch Black in his apartment. ‘The Locked Room’ is narrated from the perspective of an unnamed narrator. He is investigating the disappearance of his childhood friend Fanshawe, while publishing his work.

Do they sound like simple detective mysteries? From a glance, they are. But on closer inspection, they are not just a simple detective novel.

Sometimes, there is no clear villain in the case. You could even argue there isn’t even a case. Yet there’s something engaging about these novels. Something that keeps one reading.

And yet, all of these stories are interlinked. This is not revealed to the reader until the final pages. This opens up a whole realm of possibilities that I’ve not fully wrapped my head around. Every time I pick up the book, the meaning seems to change, and I’m left with more unanswered questions.

If you’re looking for a challenging read, I’d definitely recommend this book. Auster’s writing style is engaging, and he uses lots of interesting imagery. It’s definitely a book that takes effort to work out, but it’s worth the effort. If you’re looking for a lighter read, this is not a book I would recommend.

Do you like to read detective fiction? What’s your favourite kind?

‘Elle’s Ecrit, Ils Parlent’: RN Soul

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! Welcome back to another ‘Elle’s Ecrit, Ils Parlent’. Today I’m chatting with Syrah from RN Soul. Syrah is a nurse, and she covers nursing on her blog. As a new blogger, it was very exciting to interview her!  

Ellen: You’ve recently started blogging. How are you finding it so far? What is your favourite part?

Syrah: Yes, I began my blog towards the end of 2018. I have always written, it is just a part of who I am. For about ten years I helped co-own a writing community website that has since been taken down. Writing blogs is a completely new format for me. I am still evolving my voice and niche, but have determined that I want my “nursing” blog to [reach] beyond nurses. There are many experiences that we all share and it is great to use things that are specific to nursing.

E: What is your favourite post on your blog?

S: I’m torn because every time I write a post I try to share a piece of me within it, hence the name RN Soul. I would have to narrow it down to the post I am currently writing about failing nursing school. To be clear, that did happen. It isn’t a ploy or gimmick like you see sometimes. However, within that failure I was able to grow as a person and a nurse in a way that I would never have had I not failed. I became a better person and nurse because of failure. So is it really a failure? The post is about changing the perspective of failure. I also love ‘The Ugly Christmas Sweater’ because it was not something planned but written out of a vulnerable state. It was very scary for me to post it too. I’m proud of myself for having the courage to do it.

E: I really enjoyed reading that post. Did you find it difficult to write about your feelings?

S: Thank you very much! I did find it difficult to write, but also necessary. The things I share in that post about my brother are the reason why I started this blog: as a means of coping. I don’t want to use my platform in a way to [gain] sympathy or play the victim, but I do want the experiences I have had to hopefully help someone else. When the holidays came up, I went into a spiral of emotion that blocked me from producing more than two sentences of a blog post before deleting it. The grief became my own block, and in that I was able to identify the need to share, to a small extent, my story. This allows me to identify for myself, and in turn others, ways to cope and how to survive the holiday season. I hope it helped others, but truly it helped me.

E: Are your family and friends supportive of your blog?

S: I haven’t really told family about it so that way I can [discuss] sensitive subjects without [worrying] about what it will do to them emotionally. The few friends I have told have been supportive.

E: What are your future plans for your blog?

S: I really want to try to get more consistent with my posts. I work anywhere from 52-65 hours a week as a registered nurse and have home obligations to tend to. Thus, getting into a consistent rhythm with my posts has been very challenging; however, I am beginning to find a groove and [I] am hoping that it will continue to progress. I would love to reach more people by increasing my subscribers. December has so far been my best month by exponential numbers. It has been very encouraging. My biggest goal though is to help people through this blog. I am also considering writing a second blog once I have the consistency down with this one. If I do it, it will be food only. Whether or not I actually pursue it, we shall have to wait and see!

E: What age were you when you decided to study nursing?

S: I went back to college when I was 30 to pursue nursing. I honestly avoided being a medical professional with a prejudiced vengeance due to some horrific experiences of neglect and abuse by nurses I had witnessed. My experiences made me prejudiced, but I learned that my experiences did not have to be the norm.

E: Why did you decide to study nursing?

S: I became a nurse to take care of my brother. I was a registered nurse for approximately six weeks prior to him passing.

E: If money was no object, what would you change about the healthcare system in the USA? 

S: The entire set up. We have everything set up to where healthcare is outrageously expensive and many people cannot afford it. My health insurance jumped $50-60 per month in one year. It is a highly controversial perspective, but I feel the quality and accessibility to healthcare would greatly improve nationally if we had a national healthcare system like the U.K. or Canada, the great thing is if we could all agree on this, we could take what works and what doesn’t in other countries who have national healthcare to develop a system that would work well. I’m also a big [advocate] for in-home care as opposed to long-term care facilities and believe that the overall costs would be higher initially, but save a lot of money over time due to the decrease in ER visits/hospital stays. It would also improve quality of life. I could go on.

E: Where do you find your inspiration?

S: It is hard to pinpoint one thing as to what inspires me. My inspiration comes from life, experiences, things I’ve seen, things I’ve done. It can be driven by an emotion, or it can be very rational. I just try to make sure that whatever I have to say has relevance, preferably breaking past the medical profession to be relevant to anyone who reads.

E: What is your favourite quote?

S: ‘Attitude is Everything’- Ramtha.

I loved interviewing Syrah! I hope you all check her blog out, and give her some support! If you enjoyed reading this post, make sure you read the last ‘Elle’s Écrit, Ils Parlent’ where I interviewed Chloe from Chloe Chats. And if you’d like to be featured, you can sign up here!

You can find Syrah on Twitter and Instagram! Her username is @RNSoul.

January Favourites!

Hi everyone! Today I thought I’d do a favourites post to mark the end of January. Unpopular opinion though, I don’t feel like this month has been too long. I honestly feel like it’s flown by! Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading my favourites for this month!

Killer Sudoku

This may be the geekiest sentence I will ever put on my blog, but I’ve been obsessed with them. These puzzles are a cross between a Sudoku and a Kakuro. They take a little while to figure out, but once you do, it’s definitely worth it! I use the website I’ve linked above. It’s mobile friendly and it’s a good one for beginners to start with. I use this website. I highly recommend you try them!

My dressing gown

I’m cold about 90% of the time, so obviously a dressing gown is a necessity in January! This was a Christmas present and I’m absolutely in love! I left it at home, and whenever I’m there, putting it on is the first thing I do. My cat Olaf likes it too, and he always comes and sits on my knee when I have it on!

My diary

I bought the most Instagramable diary from Paperchase back in September, so I’m so happy I’ve been able to use it this month! It has lots of room for me to fill in my deadlines and social events, and I love the pastel colours. Each week also has a ‘goal’ (for example, this week’s is to try something new). I really need to get into the habit of using a paper diary, so I’m hoping this will be the perfect motivation!

Buzzfeed Tasty

I’m slightly obsessed with watching these videos on Instagram. I don’t know what it is, but I find them so satisfying and interesting. I never make the recipes either, although some of them do look amazing! I’d love to try some of the dessert recipes!

A Cold Legacy

This has been my favourite book of this month. It’s the final part of the Madman’s Daughter trilogy. It’s inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is one of my favourite classic novels. I’m planning to do a full review on it, so I won’t say too much!

That’s been my favourites for this month! What have been your favourites this month?

Elle’s Écrit, Ils Parlent: Chloe Chats

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another ‘Elle’s Écrit, Ils Parlent’! Today I’m talking to Chloe from Chloe Chats. She is primarily a mental health blogger although she sometimes posts lifestyle content. Read on to find out her motivations for blogging and what she dislikes about blogging!

Ellen: How did you build your following on your blog?

Chloe: I actually have had my blog for a good while [but] it was only October 2018 that I decided to get on social media- and I’m very glad I did! Twitter has been the best for me for building a following on my blog. I think just being supportive to other bloggers was how I gained followers/subscribers. It’s one of my favourite things though, meeting, chatting and supporting other bloggers.

E: You’ve recently collaborated with a few brands. How did you find these opportunities?

C: I have! It’s been really fun. I actually felt nervous to begin with because it’s a bit terrifying that maybe what you write about isn’t what they were hoping to see. But if it’s a review of something then being honest is what you should do! Everyone I’ve worked with so far has been lovely so I haven’t received any negative experiences…yet!

E: I really enjoyed reading your post ‘Horror films and how they exploit mental health issues’. What was your inspiration behind this post?

C: Thank you so much! I really enjoyed researching that one. It was around Halloween and I wanted to do something related to it and I started to read about horror films and found a few other articles and blogs of where people have spoken about the exploitation of mental health. A few years back I wouldn’t have really thought about it that way, but of course they exploit these issues. You can find it in so many horror movies. Even though I found a few other articles on it, there wasn’t that many, and I felt like it’s an important topic and we should all be a bit more aware. I wasn’t trying to turn people against horror films. I will still watch them, but it’s definitely worth bringing attention to it.

E: What is your favourite blog post you have written?

C: This is a hard question. I’d probably say the one called ‘Living with someone who has anxiety’. I hadn’t really seen anyone write about it before from the perspective of someone- like a loved one- who lives with someone that has anxiety. I know that sometimes my anxiety can be difficult to deal with and sometimes my partner struggles so I wanted to tell everyone my advice and what I have learned from my partner’s perspective. I also enjoyed writing my ‘How blogging has helped my mental health’ just because it’s a personal one to me and it was one of [those posts] that you pour your heart into. It was very therapeutic to write.

E: Is there anything you dislike about blogging?

C: There’s not much I hate about blogging. I’d say perhaps when you get the odd person who isn’t very supportive and brings all the drama in the blogging community. I think as well, I don’t ‘hate’ it, but when you write a blog post and someone comments on it saying ‘great post’ and then puts their URL… you know that they’re just looking for a comment back and it’s understandable that you’d want a comment returned if you comment on someone else’s blog, but at least read the blog post!

E: Do you find it difficult to write about your feelings?

C: I used to find it difficult, but now I find that I just talk about my feelings openly on my blog. I won’t talk about everything, there might be some private things that I’m dealing with at the time and won’t want to talk about it, but anxiety wise, I try to be open about it and talk about it a lot. For one, talking about it really helps me, and also, I have found it can inspire others to speak out too.

E: What message do you want people to receive after reading your blog?

C: Hmm, message wise, just that they feel positive or they feel that they’ve learned something from it. I will sometimes write about some general lifestyle things, but my main posts are usually to do with mental health so if anyone feels it helps them a little that’s a massive plus for me and puts a big smile on my face. A big reason [for] talking about my personal mental health issues is so that I can help others and let them know that they’re not alone.

E: What are your future plans for your blog?

C: I’m not sure really, just carry on going with it! I would love for it to be my full-time job, that would be amazing. I know it’s a lot of work to get it to that point, but perhaps I can get close to it this year.

E: You’ve written about lots of places that you have visited. Where has been your favourite?

C: My favourite place [is] maybe Northern Ireland! I had a really nice time. I got to see my uni friend and her new baby, I got to go on the Game of Thrones tour which was amazing, and just having time with my boyfriend was really nice. At that time as well I know that he needed a break from work so it was lovely.

E: What is your favourite quote?

C: My all-time favourite quote is: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Winnie the Pooh.

What a lovely quote that perfectly sums up the essence of Chloe’s blog! If you enjoyed reading this post, make sure you read the previous post where I interviewed Abby from MyLifelines. And if you’d like to be involved, you can sign up here!

You can find Chloe on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!