Tuesday, 7 February 2017

50 Facts About Me

Did you know I have a Youtube Channel? I only have one video up at the moment, as I had a huge purge of old content. What a nice little plug of my other social media. 

Please find below my 50 Facts About Me video (#snowflake)

Regards, Almsee

Monday, 6 February 2017

Best Books of 2016

In 2016 I read twenty books (could do better) and looking through the list, I have shortlisted my favourite six. All are amazing and I recommend you to download, purchase or order online for next day delivery A.S.A.P. 

Narconomics by Tom Wainwright
If you know someone who watched all of Narcos in one day and then wouldn't stop impersonating Pablo Escobar afterwards (or if that person is you) then they'll (you'll) love Narconomics. I have to hand it to Wainwright, who is the Britain editor for the Economist, he really knows his stuff. The novel is intercut between the myths and truths of the world's cartels, the facts, figures and costs of being in the business of drugs together with his own experiences in South America as he researched and lived a small bit of cartel life. Narconomics is very interesting, thought provoking and a bit of a gateway drug (lol) to the interesting side of economics. It doesn't just draw you in with the hilarious appeal of reading "How to Run a Drug Cartel" on the number 30 bus to your nine to five job, but delivers with some shocking statistics and a hard look at the cold horrors of the drugs world. It does leave you optimistic when you realise that the more a cartel is built like a multinational corporation , the more you can use economics as the "the blueprint to defeat them". Supply and demand, product marketing, branding and job satisfaction all pull together into an almost step-by-step instruction manual for drug destruction. 

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
This was a really quick read, but written with such intense memorable beauty. The protagonist Alexandra Bergson tells the story of her life growing up in the edges of rural America during the western expansion. I imagine this is what Americans consider the true American dream, rising up from nothing and creating something from the very land itself when the land was bare. I already had a mild obsession with Little House on the Prairie and this is definitely the grown up version if you also enjoyed that series. Alexandra is a real feminist portrait which obviously I appreciate to the max. The story centres on her as businesswoman but also as sister, daughter, head of a household, employer. A short book but packed with many twists. It's the first in a trilogy by Cather and I will most definitely be getting the next two. Who can resist a Penguin Classic anyway? 

Undying by Michael Faber
Undying is the first book of poems I've read since G.C.S.E. English and this is one love affair I'm happy to rekindle. It was a bit of a tragic one to pick as my first as the poems tell the story of Faber's wife and her subsequent death from cancer. It's truly about love, loss, grief, memory and recovery. It made me think a lot about one of my favourite quotes from A Series of Unfortunate Events: "If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven't, you cannot possibly imagine". Grief is so different to individual people and yet it really strikes a chord how sometimes it's the little things in life that hit you the hardest, like crying in the cheese aisle of a supermarket because you just remembered how you bonded over a hatred of babybels. I didn't think a book of poetry could make me cry either but alas the walking stereotype that is my existence, I shed a tear TWICE, once when I was at WORK. The feels were strong with this one. 

A collection of short stories that I honestly, truly, wish I could forget so that I could re-read. I was enjoying it so much that I accidentally whizzed through it and then was terribly sad upon the realisation that it was over. The Paper Menagerie is superb, it crafts a collection of worlds and stories that are so incredibly immersive and complete despite the reader being in them for such a  brief time. All of them have stuck with me since reading, the lasting impression something which doesn't happen often with me and short stories. There is definitely an edge of David Foster Wallace in there as the prose is perfection and the stories so imaginative, dark and funny all in one. The collection has a strong Eastern Asian thread running through it and a lot of the stories focus especially on Asian-American relationships both real and imaginary, personal and political. The narratives all have a fantastical and futuristic spin on them and provoke you to think about humanity in the realms of magic, nature, souls, robotics and spirit. It is award winning for a very good reason and I could not recommend it enough. 

Fox is a professional anthropologist who takes the English people and dissects their behaviours to create a blueprint of English-ness and what make them tick. As a born and bred English female, I can only say that everything written in this book is 100% true. It is all freakishly accurate. Accurate to the point that I would recommend it as reading material if you ever have to interact with English people in an English environment (tourist, family, colleagues). There is a certain code of behaviour that seems perplexing, weird, even infuriating to those not indoctrinated into it... Why does an Englishman alone at a bus stop form an orderly queue of one? Why do we talk so much about the weather? The answers are all here, ready for you to discover and/or have some awkward realisations of self discovery. Oxford have put it on their Anthropology reading list so it's not only interesting but impressively interesting, winning all round.  

The Sellout by Paul Beatty
I think I get Brownie points because I read this one before it won the Man Booker which has never happened before and will probably never again. I was drawn in by the blurb's premise: a black man attempts to bring back segregation in his neighbourhood of a U.S. town. I will say it lives up to the blurb in post-modern prose. The plot floats along, not too interested in the reader but keeping you interesting regardless. Like many modern novels it doesn't give you much back in the way of resolution so if you're used to books which tie up all loose ends this isn't for you. Stones are left unturned and characters unsatisfied but it all loops back to the theme of the book: one mans perspective on modern racism in all it's complex, unsatisfying glory. A lot of reviews revolve around the book being a "side splitting comedy" and although I thought it was sharp and witty and satirical I didn't see it as a laugh out loud novel. The humour I took away was more like a black comedy, designed to lightly shake you and re-consider your social norms and the assumptions you hold about the way we exist and interact. It's Foyles' Book of the Year and it's been acclaimed by some as the most important book of 2016, how can you possibly say no? 

Both the writers and writing styles are really varied over the six books and cover multiple genres, fact/fiction, prose/poetry/short story. I guarantee there's a least one you want to read already... My favourite place to purchase is Foyles and there's one in Birmingham Grand Central if you're ever visiting or passing through. Most of my book purchases are made there, and over half of my favourite from 2016 where picked up straight off the shelf, which goes to show how good the selection is. It's independent and cosy but not cramped and has everything you could want from a book shop: a good selection of books, knowledgable staff, cool birthday cards and if that doesn't sell you, their points card is called a 'Foyalty Card'. 

I adore you Foyles. 

Regards, Almsee

Sunday, 5 February 2017

My Kylie Kollection & Swatches

It's no secret in real life that I'm a big fan of Kylie and will patiently wait in an online queue to grab another lip kit, so why not broadcast that love all over the internet too? Now introducing my Kylie Cosmetics Kollection...

I have eight lip kits, so you can tell there are no real complaints. They were purchased over the last year since the original lip kit launch and I've attempted to purchase a variety of shades...although I think you can tell I have a preference for nudes. I adore the packaging and the branding in general, I think they're reasonably priced considering you get the liner and the liquid lipstick and internal shipping is okay as well - even better if you combine orders with a friend and go halfsies on P&P. My only complaint is when ordering to the U.K. the customs charges are extortionate. On one order I purchased four kits, which is one tiny little box to ship but was charged £26 so if anything I would recommend bulk buying to save on charges. This is not a Kylie decision though, but the U.K. border control turning a sweet profit on the Kylie kits, probably due to the number that pass through.

Onto the kits themselves, I will say that as a certified white girl, all the shades come up super dark on me. Dolce is more like how I imagine True Brown and True Brown is almost black on my lips. I love all the shades and how they swatch but it is something to be aware of if you're also pale and purchasing online.

The formula of the lip kits has definitely improved since their first release. The original three which I got in the first couple of weeks of the lip kit launch have begun to dry up and Dolce, which was my most loved is in need of a re-purchase soon. From the earlier releases, I had also purchased Koko K (the deep purple) but I found that the formula wasn't good enough for such a dark shade. It seemed to slip all over my mouth, bleeding into my foundation and didn't have the staying power of the other colours. I ended up swapping Koko K with my friend for a different lipstick because I just knew I was never going to wear it if the application couldn't be perfect. However my recent purchases indicate that the reformulation has fixed this issue as Leo is true perfection as a dark lip, with staying power to match.  

My two current favourite shades are Leo and Mailboo, both shown left. Leo is unequalled for a dreamy evening colour. It's so autumnal and a definite crowd pleaser. I always get so many compliments when I'm wearing Leo. Gah, just dreamy. If you're looking for a bold matte liquid lipstick this is the one for you. Mailboo is the opposite - a faultless nude for either day or nighttime. It's the easiest for me to whack on without too much thought and I'm ready to go. I also have a cold toned skin base, so I find that with it's blue undertones Maliboo suits me better than some of the pink toned nudes I have. 

I think Kylie is a great role model for younger girls as she's completely taking advantage of her platform to create this beauty/clothing empire. She's creative and resilient and doesn't take herself too seriously. Who even cares that she's had lip fillers anyway?! I cannot wait to purchase more of her products in future and to see what's next on the Kylie agenda! Let's be friend King Ky. 

Regards, Almsee.
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Friday, 3 February 2017

Five television shows you should watch

five television shows you need to watch / Almsee, fashion and lifestyle blog

I am addicted to television and I am so not sorry. Netflix changed my life, whether for the worse or the better who knows but there's really no going back now. My type of T.V. is fast paced with an excellent script and a band of extremely talented actors. I'm not fussed about genre, I'm happy to watch sci-fi, fantasy, detective shows, comedy, dramas. Literally anything goes. All I want is for the episodes to keep me hooked, not patronise the viewer and to keep coming. Like #sixseasonsandamovie. 

Here's my five faves:

1. The Good Wife
I cannot type into words how amazing The Good Wife is. Perfectly built around the main character, Alicia Florrick, who is scorned by her cheating politician husbad in the pilot, she simultaneously deals with the scandal whilst re-entering the workplace as one sick ass lawyer after fifteen years away. Alicia is everything you'd ever want in a strong female character, so completely realistic, flawed and relatable. Unlike other court room shows, The Good Wife doesn't just have one token "strong" female, it has a pack. Diverse and complex and everything I want to inspire me like Elle Woods inspires me. Let us not forget the male leads, my favourite man of all time Matthew Goode stars as dreamy Finn Polmar. And dreamy is an understatement. Aside from the cast, the plot is just as dreamy, showcasing one of my favourite plot twists in television and grabbing your attention with even it's most BAU episodes. Seven seasons, all on Netflix, 10/10.

2. Orphan Black
This is a science fiction show with a punch-you-in-the-gut beginning. The acting from Tatiana Maslany, who plays the main protagonist is one of the best performances I've ever seen but to fully understand you need to watch. It's an epic mystery on it's third series out of four but do not be afraid, Orphan Black has a really good season structure if you are fed up of the ever-lasting crazy plots of Pretty Little Liars. The plot here moves fast enough to give you whip lash and has actual gasp-out-loud plot twists as well as being hilarious and loveable. Science fiction with a heart of gold. Highly recommend. Netflix, Three seasons 10/10.   

3. Hannibal
I will admit that once you've finished season one of Hannibal, The Walking Dead will look like child's play in terms of gore. So if you don't like bloodshed and don't fancy seeing some seriously dark murders then give this one a pass. It's worth noting however that the violence in Hannibal is shot with a clinical almost justifiable view on murder, and is created to be both beautiful and chilling. The audience is a voyeur inside Hannibal's world and at his mercy, drawn in by the beauty and and now helpless to turn away. The sets and locations are beyond beautiful, the story arc is altogether believable, gripping and heartbreaking. Hannibal and Will Graham are both hero and the villain and together give television the kind of heart racing, gasp-inducing, gut wrenching characters that a true therapist-come-cannibal show needs. There is potential for a season four which I will personally fund myself if I ever become a millionaire. Three seasons, Now TV, 10/10.

4. Battlestar Galatica 
BSG aired from 2005-2009 but it hasn't dated a day. Oh my god, this is one of those programmes where you get a fully formed show which from beginning to end is interesting, driven and demands an audience. It's been a couple of years now since I watched it but it's still something I'm emotionally invested in, (major fangirl) so you know it's a good'un. Like Doctor Who but way more saucy and satisfying horrible. Think emotional decisions and the grey area of good vs. evil. All thought provoking stuff to binge on. Start watching and you'll end up with a whole different code of speech and costumes for conventions. Four seasons, Netflix, 10/10.

5. Elementary
This isn't what I had expected when I sat down to watch Elementary. I had assumed is would be a crappy U.S. knock- off, see Shameless, Skins, the Inbetweeners, but be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise. And Elementary is an angel. In my humble opinion it's actually better  than Sherlock especially with regards to diversity, plot twists and plausible relationships. And as it's American you get waaaaaay more episodes, meaning more mysteries to solve and more time to fall in love with Lucy Lui as Joan Watson, and Jonny Lee Miller as a tatted, rugged Sherlock *heart eyes emoji*. The show deals with real issues like drug abuse, race relations, homelessness and does it all with depth and feeling. Five seasons, NowTV, 10/10. 

An honorary mention goes out to Firefly, which is my actual favourite show of all time but the emotional wounds I've received from watching Firefly are still too fresh to put into words. Maybe another time. 

Regards, Almsee.
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