Wednesday, 23 December 2015

2016 Reading Challenge

I've decided that rather than just reading within the same genres I always do, I'm going to tackle the Around the World in 52 Books challenge. I'm going to keep this post updated throughout the course of 2016 with my progress!

Progress - 11/52

1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
                             "The Martian" by Andy Weir

2. A book set in a different continent

3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
                             "Finding Audrey" by Sophie Kinsella (nominated in Best YA fiction)

4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015

5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name

6. The highest rated on your TBR

7. A book about books

8. A classic book with less than 200 pages

9. A book that was mentioned in another book

10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
                              "Soundless" by Richelle Mead

11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge

12. A childhood classic

13. Reader’s Choice

14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How)

15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)

16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels

17. A book with a beautiful cover

18. A book on a summer/beach reading list

19. A non-fiction book

20. A book with a first name in the title
                            "Book of Ivy" by Amy Engel

21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page

22. The first book in a new to you series

23. The next book in a series you are reading

24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)

25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you

26. A book everyone is talking about

27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)

28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
                             "Beautiful" by Katie Piper (memoir)

29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name

30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
                              "Rumpelstiltskin" by Brothers Grimm (German)

31. A work of young adult fiction

32. A historical fiction book

33. The 16th book on your TBR

34. A book about mental illness

35. An award winning book

36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
                             "Golden Boy" by Abigail Tarttelin (the main character is intergender)

37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read

38. A book about an anti hero

39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list

40. A novella from your favorite genre

41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
                              "This Is Where It Ends" by Marieke Nijkamp (a mass school shooting)

42. A top 100 fantasy novel

43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
                              "Cirque du Freak" by Darren Shan (vampires)

44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public

45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have

46. A crime story

47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title

48. A dystopia
                              "Nerve" by Jeanne Ryan

49. A book with a great opening line 
                             "Revolution of Ivy" by Amy Engel ("No one survives beyond the fence.")

50. A book originally written in a language other than English

51. A short story from a well-known author

52. A book published in 2016

In other news, I've completed 2015's Goodreads reading challenge to myself of reading 50 books! I think I'll set my 2016 target for 60 books, including the completion of the 52 challenges above.

Happy reading!

Saturday, 14 November 2015


129 people are confirmed to be dead. 352 are injured, 99 of whom are critical. All in 6 sickening attacks around the city of Paris. The most deadly European terrorist attack since 2004, when trains were bombed in Madrid.

No words I, or anyone else, can say will ever do the horror of this incident justice. Yet, it's all I have been able to think about in the past 24 hours.

Paris is the city of love and lights. Paris is always a good idea and Paris, je t'aime. The beauty of the city can't be denied. This makes the shock factor of the attacks so much harder to swallow. The terrorists targetted places of entertainment and enjoyment: restaurants, a music venue, a football stadium. These are the last places one would expect to visit and suffer gun and explosive attacks. Attacking the unexpected leads to innocent people around the world living in fear that their town, city, country will be next. Fear is what allows terrorism to remain strong.

City of Glasgow College showing its support to Paris. Photo credit to The Ark, Glasgow.

France has fallen victim to three terrorist attacks in 2015: Charlie Hebdo, the Thalys train attack and now, Le Bataclan, its surrounding areas and Saint Denis. However, this is attack is no longer single-handedly a French issue. Arrests have been made in Belgium. Victims come from all over the world: the UK, USA, Switzerland, Tunisia. One of the attackers was smuggled through Greece. It is a worldwide issue.

Monuments and buildings around the world have been lit up with le tricolor français. Vigils have been held in multiple countries, with thousands of people singing La Marseillaise and showing their unity. We need to back up this support. François Hollande states that he will fight back without mercy and our governments must stand with France to defeat ISIS before hundreds more people are tragically killed.

I am in shock. I feel sick. Paris is a city that is very close to my heart, as a French student. Many of my fellow students are currently living in France. Thankfully, none of my friends are living in Paris, and miraculously this is the first weekend in a long time where no one I know was visiting the Paris region. Not everyone was as lucky.

Je suis avec Paris. Le monde pense à Paris. Reposez en paix toutes les victimes.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité is a message that France and the world must keep close to them in light of these events. We must also add another word to this list - solidarité.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

What's in my make-up bag?

Your makeup bag is your trusty companion. Whether you adapt it for a travel version, it’s all over your bedside table or you’re seriously organised and have it colour co-ordinated blogger style - we all have one. If you’re anything like me, you take it everywhere, you re-stock it constantly and there’s always some hidden treasure at the bottom of it.
But have you ever wondered what everyone else’s looks like? We’ll be delving into our beauty writer’s bags and sharing all their trusty makeup secrets. – Renate O’Connor, Beauty Editor.


Everyone’s makeup bag is different. For me, there is a bit of everything. Often, if I’ve spent too long in bed in the morning I’ll do my make-up on the bus to uni, so here are the products I like to take for easy and quick application:


I’m very pale, so now that I’ve found a foundation and concealer that work for me, I stick to them religiously. For foundation, the Rimmel Match Perfection is the best for light coverage, and the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer works on spots and under the eyes. I also carry the Rimmel Stay Matte powder to set my face make-up and eye primer and to create the perfect matte look for lipsticks.

Becca Cook, Kettle Mag, What's in my makeup bag? Image: Becca Cook

Rimmel's Match Perfection Foundation is available from Boots for £7.99.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is available from John Lewis. Get yours in store or online for £22.00.
Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder is also available from Boots and for just £3.99.
Selected Boots cosmetic products, including No 7, are currently on offer. Buy 3 for the price of 2!


For eye shadows, there’s nothing better than MAC. I use their Paintpot for a base and then carry their Burgundy x9 Palette, because it’s so dinky and portable! I’ve mastered winged eyeliner on the bus using Collection’s Extreme Felt Tip Liner, which is the easiest eyeliner I’ve ever used and is very dark. L’Oreal Miss Manga mascara is easy to put on without getting it everywhere, so I always make sure this in my on-the-go makeup bag too.

Becca Cook, Kettle Mag, What's in my makeup bag? Image: Becca Cook

Buy your MAC Pro Wear Longwear Paint Pot online or at your local counter for £16.00
Their Burgundy x9 Palette is on sale for £30.00 – get that on your Christmas list!
Collection’s Extreme Felt Tip Liner is available from Superdrug for £2.99, along with L’Oreal’s Miss Manga Mascara for £8.99.
Receive a free tote bag when you buy in the 3 for 2 on nails, cosmetics and lashes at Superdrug!


Often, I’ll have quite a few lipsticks rolling around my bag, but I have two staples at the moment - a berry and a nude. Topshop are by far my favourite brand for lipsticks, so I’m carrying Beguiled, a blue-toned berry shade, and Naturist, because every girl needs a good nude lipstick, right?

Becca Cook, Kettle Mag, What's in my makeup bag? Image: Becca Cook

Get your Topshop lipsticks, lip bullets and glosses online or in store for £6-£8.

originally published on

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Review: A Play, A Pie and a Pint (Descent)

A Play, A Pie and a Pint at Òran Mór is one of the most iconic regular events that takes place in Glasgow. For your ticket, you are given a small-scale performance with up to three actors, alongside a beverage and your lunch to enjoy as you watch.

Recent themes in the current season of plays have included sci-fi and political satire, but for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, in association with Luminate, a new play Descent was performed six times over consecutive days, promising an accurate account of dementia and its struggles. I was intrigued: how would such a serious health issue be conveyed among more light-hearted plays in such a basic form?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

9 reasons why you should date a journalist

Recently, I read an article entitled "8 reasons why you shouldn't date a journalist", and I found myself disagreeing with almost all of the points. Journalists are great to be around, right? Why wouldn't you want to date us? We have many redeeming factors, so I thought I'd share 9 of the best.

Monday, 19 October 2015

News: Strathclyde ranks 46th in university league tables

Strathclyde has ranked 46th in the UK in The Times and Sunday Times University League Tables 2016.

This puts the university at seventh in Scotland.

The university’s score for student satisfaction and experience increased from last year’s rankings by nine places. 86% of students are happy with student life at Strathclyde.

Other areas where Strathclyde scored highly were the rate of first-class and 2:1 degrees achieved by students, which has a rate of 78%, and in sports – where the university ranks 42nd.

Strathclyde is also in the top 25 for research submissions, with a high number of submissions and nearly 80% of research since 2008 has been rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Do graduates have to move to London?

London is the place where dreams come true, right? Thousands of graduates each year flock to the city to find work, due to the ever-present fact that “there are no graduate jobs across the UK” anymore, and London is the only place to find a graduate-entry job that is perfect for you.

It’s a vicious cycle for graduates: most work experience and internships are unpaid, but almost all graduate jobs require some form of experience and unless your family can fund for you to work unpaid, it’s easy to become desperate for employment. Many people move to London in a last-ditch attempt to obtain a paid entry-level job. 

In fact, according to the Daily Mail, one in three 22 to 30 year olds with a degree move to London in order to find employment. Is it really necessary to pack up and move to the capital city as soon as you have your degree in your hands, like many graduates believe?


It’s not a definite answer, but for some, re-locating is by far the best option whereas for others, it is possible to stay near your family or your university city.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Some LUSH Christmas goodies

LUSH, je t'aime beaucoup. Especially at Christmas. Every year, I swear I don't need any more bath products when you release your spicy, cinnamon and apple scented Christmas range. Every year, I give in.

Lord of Misrule bath bomb

Monday, 13 April 2015

Part-time jobs for students

Part-time jobs as a student aren’t great. Many students remain unable to find work, and even those that do are often uninspired by folding clothes or serving plate of food. Here are a few job ideas for funding your student life which are a bit less dull and more importantly, have regular opportunities available.

Bar/club work 
Many students – especially those living in cities – work for bars and clubs alongside their studies. The shifts tend to be relatively short and fit well around university timetables. Common jobs include bar staff, PR workers (handing out leaflets and vouchers to the public), cloakroom staff, glass collectors and more. It’s more exciting than working in a shop, especially for those who love nightlife. Take it as a chance to gain communication skills, confidence and work alongside other young people who will make your job a lot more fun.
Call centres 
Working in a call centre is definitely not the average person’s dream job, but it’s not the worst option. Call centres jobs in Scotland tend to be quite flexible with shifts, meaning that when you start, you can work a few hours over a few days or for one or two full days, whichever suits your lifestyle. Lots of students work in call centres due to the flexibility, and it’s likely that you’ll be working with a great team. They are also great jobs for building contacts, as usually the centre is part of a large company, and it looks great on your CV due to the customer service skills you’ll develop. Pay tends to be above minimum wage too, which is always a bonus when you’ve spent all of your student loan!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Strathclyde news: Gary Paterson re-elected as Strath president

Gary Paterson was re-elected as president of University of Strathclyde Students’ Association at March’s student elections.

He won 1291 of the 2147 votes cast for president – 50% more votes than his opponent. He won majority vote in every Strathclyde faculty.

He is the second person to ever be elected for two terms at Strathclyde.

Paterson said “I think the last year has been a fantastic time for the Students’ Union, I’m incredibly proud of the work we have done, and I am really excited for the year ahead.”

Friday, 6 February 2015

News: Students call for end to rent that swallows up to 95% of student loan

Activists are calling for new rules over the prices of housing, after it has been revealed that students are spending approximately 95 per cent of their loans on rent.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has stated that the average university halls come in at £123.96 per week, which equates to £5244 per year. As of 2014-2015, the maximum student loan available in Scotland is £5750.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

10 things you didn't know about University of Strathclyde

University of Strathclyde is over 200 years old, and is situated in the heart of Glasgow's city centre. It has a very lively and relaxed ambience, and a wide variety of students making it a fun and interesting place to study. Here are some facts that you may not have known about Strathy!


1. Bigger than you think:

Beaten only by the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Strathclyde is the third biggest university in Scotland with nearly 20,000 students and over 3000 members of staff.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

David Cameron Backs Out Of 'Leaders Live' - Thoughts

'Leaders Live' is a live Youtube show, ran by 'Bite The Ballot' - an impartial, not-for-profit organisation who aim to motivate young people to be more involved in politics and to register to vote - and supported by broadcasters ITV.

Towards the end of 2014, four of the UK's political party leaders took to a panel of young people to answer their questions, as well as those sent via social media in a live hour-long show each. Prime Minister of the country, David Cameron, was supposed to feature in an episode in 2015. However, he has now refused to participate.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

My 5 most anticipated books of 2015

2015 is set to be a great reading year. There seems to be a lot of series starting this year, as well as the next parts of existing book series being released. Of the books that have been announced for this upcoming year, here are the ones I'm watching out for.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Book Review: 'Rebel Belle' by Rachel Hawkins

I was drawn to the first in the 'Rebel Belle' trilogy for two reasons. Firstly, the cover is beautiful! It's girly, pink and elegant, very up my street. Secondly, there has been a lot of hype surrounding this novel since it was released in April 2014. It promises a mix of fantasy and contemporary, and it achieved this greatly.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Controversy and Katie Hopkins

Scandals sell. That's how the media operates. Those with loud opinions that go against the status quo will always gain attention. That is why comedian Frankie Boyle has so many Twitter followers: his controversial "joke" tweets about current affairs, such as the Jimmy Savile revelations, are retweeted by thousands of people due to their shocking nature.

And that, my friends, is also why Katie Hopkins has been all over the news as of late.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

"We are the Liars. We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury. We are cracked and broken. A story of love and romance. A tale of tragedy. Which are lies? Which is truth?"
Every review I read of 'We Were Liars' before picking it up stated the exact same thing: it is best to go into the story without knowing what's going to happen. I didn't expect to agree with them; usually I like to know the general genre and idea of a novel before reading it, but with this one, it is vital to the ending that it is not spoiled for you.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Book Review: 'Girl Online' by Zoe Sugg

Zoe Sugg's debut novel 'Girl Online' has been the topic of much discussion and controversy over the past month. After becoming the best-selling hardcover novel of 2014, it was confirmed that the Youtuber actually used a ghost-writer. The book and the drama surrounding it have received a very mixed reception. Admittedly, I had very low expectations as I'm a few years older than the target demographic and I don't watch Zoella's videos. Everyone talking about it intrigued me, and alas I downloaded the book onto my Kindle and gave it a go.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

This year, I will be participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the first time. I've fallen out of the habit in recent years of spending my spare time just reading a book, as I described in my New Year's Resolutions post.

My aim is to read 40 or more books in the 365 days of 2015. This may be a lot or a little to some people. Personally, I don't know how well I'll do. Without boasting, I'm a speedy reader, but this will be cancelled out by a lack of spare time whilst at uni.