Smell the roses: showing blog love

Hello friends!
Let's take a look back on last week's smell the roses - read and leave comments on ten blog posts.

What is SMELL THE ROSES?

I have been reading blogs for years but have always been a very bad commenter.
Every time I read a post I want to leave a comment but I just don't know what to say.
I could leave a nice "Great post!" but it doesn't seem enough for me - so I just don't leave any.

I really wanted this smell the roses to be an everyday thing - but I couldn't find enough time for some blog reading last week.
I did scan a few posts, bookmarked some of them - but mostly read and left comments on Sunday.
My comments weren't very constructive but I enjoyed reading the blog posts.

That's why I'm going to share them - and invite you to read/comment and give these lovely bloggers some blog love!

Enjoy the reading ☺︎

SELF LOVIN' by Chloe | Chloe Louise

A CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE AND BUILDING MYSELF BACK UP AGAIN by Amie | The Curvaceous Vegan

♡ MY BIPOLAR STORY PART 1 by Catherine | Working with Bipolar


♡ 5 THINGS I'M LOVING by Jemma | Dorkface

♡ 26 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN 26 YEARS by Lauren | Bournemouth Girl

♡ 7 WAYS TO SHOW LOVE ALL YEAR ROUND by Jordan | Hello Miss Jordan

♡ 7 PODCASTS YOU NEED TO HEAR by Ellie | Ellie K


♡ I HAVE OPENED AN ETSY SHOP by Bexa | Hello Bexa

ACHIEVING ORGANIC BLOG GROWTH by Charlotte | Charlotte Nicole

♡ THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD by Soffy | The Mum Affairs

♡ WHY YOU NEED A BLOGGING SCHEDULE TO KEEP YOUR BLOG ON POINT by Stephanie | Stephanie Vivienne

♡ HOW I USE PINTEREST TO DRIVE TRAFFIC TO MY BLOG by Maud | My Passion Projects

♡ MY TOP 5 MUST HAVE APPS FOR NEW BLOGGERS by Esther | Esther Wyse

MOVIES I WATCHED IN JANUARY by Zoe | Just Zoe

MY BULLET JOURNAL by Amy | Amy Edmonds

♡ OUR LOVE SONGS PLAYLIST by Melanie | Fraser's Fun House



Did you stop and smell the roses last week?
Join in the project and link up your smell the roses post below.

There is only one rule: leave a comment on the blog that links up directly before you.
It's so important to support and encourage each other! Spread the love!

Next smell the roses:
▲ Write down three inspirational quotes ▲

EnregistrerEnregistrer

SHOWING BLOG LOVE

A book review of the Actually book series by Ali McNamara

Hello friends!
With Valentine's Day around the corner, I couldn't wait to share my thoughts on one of the best book series I've read in years.
The ACTUALLY book series written by the lovely Ali McNamara.

 It includes three books:
FROM NOTTING HILL WITH LOVE... ACTUALLY
FROM NOTTING HILL TO NEW YORK... ACTUALLY
FROM NOTTING HILL WITH FOUR WEDDINGS... ACTUALLY

I'm sure it already makes you want to read them just by reading the titles!
That's what I first thought when I came across From Notting Hill with Love... Actually one day on Goodreads.
Not only did it draw my attention, but the cover illustration and the back cover blurb also attracted me.

From Goodreads -
She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy... wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant.
Scarlett loves the movies. But does she love sensible fiancé David just as much?
With a big white wedding on the horizon, Scarlett really should have decided by now...
When she has the chance to house-sit in Notting Hill - the setting of one of her favourite movies - Scarlett jumps at the chance.
But living life like a movie is trickier than it seems, especially when her new neighbour Sean is so irritating.
And so irritatingly handsome, too.
Scarlett soon finds herself starring in a romantic comedic of her very own: but who will end up as the leading man?

These books are page-turners for sure.
I am a fan of Ali McNamara's writing style and storytelling - and I just couldn't put the books down.
I love rom coms and the Actually story was so lovely, charming and very entertaining.

The heroine, named Scarlett, is adorable but also very clumsy, which lands her in some funny situations.
I could easily relate to her as she always daydreams and likes to compare her surroundings, the people she meets and situations to her favourite films - which annoys her relatives a lot... but certainly not me!
In fact, she originally decides to house-sit in London to show her dad & her fiancé that living like your life is a film can be done.
And then she unintentionally finds herself the heroine of her own romantic comedy.

I instantly fell in love with Scarlett, and with her new neighbour, Sean, too. What a man.
I found myself attracted to him very quickly and could easily picture him as a younger version of Simon Baker.
The minor characters are also very good - sometimes a bit too cliché - but they are definitely necessary to the story.

Also, as an avid movie fan, I really enjoyed all the romantic films references.
The Holiday, Love Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary, Pretty Woman and many more. You will love it.
Scarlett even meets celebrities in real life, and there's even a weekend getaway to Disneyland Paris in the first book!
Did you know you could actually get married in Sleeping Beauty's castle?

I highly recommend all lovers of romantic comedies and chick lit in general read this book series.
It was a really good story that hooked me in and made me want to keep on reading.
From Notting Hill to New York... and From Notting Hill with Four Weddings... are just as lovely & entertaining.
I really hope the author will release another Actually novel because I want to read more of Scarlett's adventures.

Ali McNamara is an amazing author and also the queen of music and film references in books.
She has written seven books and her latest one, The Summer of Serendipity, came out last year.

Let me know in the comments if you read the books!

THE ACTUALLY BOOK SERIES BY ALI MCNAMARA

Smell the Roses: Make-up novice needs guidance

Hello friends!
Remember last week's smell the roses goal - get a facial.

What is SMELL THE ROSES?

Well, I did not get a facial.
Instead I booked an appointment at the hairdresser's.
I love going to the hairdresser's - the head massage and nice smelling shampoo. It's absolutely divine.
A month ago I wanted a makeover so I had my hair dyed brown - but this time, I had it cut.
Now I have a bob haircut and I'm loving it!
I feel a bit more confident and pretty - for once.

That's not all - I also took a make-up class!
You see, I'm a total novice when it comes to make-up.
I did try to take an interest in the beauty world ages ago but never asked for any advice.
In retrospect I think I never really had an interest in anything beauty-related because.. I didn't like my face.
Why take time and spend money on that face, really?
Ridiculous thought, I know. But that's what I used to think of me - and my face.

I have a history of low self-esteem, and learning to care for me has always been a challenge.
However, and that's good news, I'm feeling much better and more confident lately.
And not only thanks to the hairdresser's and beauty salon - but that's a topic for another blog post. I promise.

After my hair treatment, I talked to a beauty therapist.
I detailed my (quick) morning/evening beauty routine and the products I use - I actually brought them to the salon.
My skin is dry and sensitive, and easily irritated. I knew that, but I never really took care of it.
I'm such a bad girl, I buy products from the supermarket without knowing if they are suitable for my skin type.
Same when it comes to choosing a foundation for my skin tone.

Each morning, until last Saturday, I used a bottom-end moisturiser that would irritate my skin, put some foundation which was way darker than my skin tone and some mascara. That's it.
Don't even mention an evening beauty routine because there was none of it!
I would just use a make-up remover wipe - when I wouldn't forget about it. And not very eco-friendly either.

This needed to change. Back to square one.
The beauty therapist taught me the basics (easy-peasy) and showed me the different types of brushes and a selection of products.
She put make-up on one side of my face and as a good student, I had to do the other half.
It was a fun class. We got along well and she instantly made me feel comfortable.
I must admit I felt ashamed at first - I thought, I'm a 30-year old woman and I don't even know about make-up!

The beauty salon sold Pupa Milano products - have you ever heard of this brand?
I bought a face exfoliator, bi-phase make up remover, lotion, moisturiser, foundation, eyeliner pencil, blusher, and eye shadow.
My bank account is crying right now - but it's worth it.
I will write a review of these beauty products in due time.

This smell the roses was perfect ♡
Not only did I get some much needed me time, but it also boosted my confidence.

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?
Join in the project and link up your smell the roses post below.

There is only one rule: leave a comment on the blog that links up directly before you.
It's so important to support and encourage each other! Spread the love!

Next smell the roses:
▲ Read and leave comments on ten blog posts ▲


________________________________

MAKE-UP NOVICE NEEDS GUIDANCE

Books I've read in January 2018

Finally... it's February!
I don't know about you but I just couldn't wait for January to be over.
The first month of the year is never easy - in spite of all the goal setting and motivation.
It's a long month - and where I live, it's cold, raining all the time and the evenings are dark early.
Ugh - bye January!

I started my 2018 reading challenge and read four books throughout the month.
I wish I could've read more because I have a pile of exciting books on my bedside table - but I'm a slow reader & I've been busy.

Here are the prompts I chose in January:
• A book you borrowed or that was give to you as a gift
• The next book in a series you started
• A book about time travel
• A book set in the decade you were born

WHAT HAPPENED by Hillary Rodham Clinton ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
I got What Happened for Christmas and couldn't wait to read it.
Let me tell you - it was a very interesting and powerful read by an incredibly good writer.
I'm not American and don't know much about politics but I thought it was very enlightening on the 2016 presidential campaign.
Many topics are discussed here - the behind-the-scenes, the omnipresent misogyny in politics, Russia's role in the elections, Donald Trump, the email controversy...
She also gets very personal when she writes about her upbringing, the support of her family and her recovery from the election.
What I like in this book is that she admits she made a series of mistakes, and that she is not perfect. Who is anyway?
Hillary Clinton is inspiring and one thing is sure - she would have made a better president than Trump.
I highly recommend this book.

▲ THE ELITE by Kiera Cass ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
The Elite is the second book of The Selection series by Kiera Cass.
If you don't know what it's about - three hundred years have passed and the United States became Illea, a caste monarchy. Thirty-five young girls, including America Singer the protagonist, are chosen to compete to conquer the heart of Prince Maxon, the heir to the throne.
It's a bit like a dystopian Bachelor during the Civil War - including all the excitement and cheesy show around it.
Just like the first book, the second installment is a good and easy read.
And yet I have a few reservations about this one - and mostly because of the heroine.
I was tired of America's indecisiveness, and her mood swings and fits of jealousy were annoying.
She just can't stop changing her mind in every chapter and is less and less likable.
This being said, I can't wait to read the third book of the series.

STEP BACK IN TIME by Ali McNamara ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
JoJo is a workaholic.
One day she is hit by a car on a zebra crossing and starts time traveling into the 60's, then 70's, 80's and finally 90's.
I really wish I could have given the book five stars because I am a huge fan of Ali McNamara and The Beatles - but it was not as thrilling as I expected it to be and I wasn't fond of the protagonist.
That being said, Ali McNamara's writing style remains enjoyable and the Beatles & other cultural references are perfect.
I also enjoyed the time travel concept - it's original and fun.
Not my favourite book by the author, but still a pleasant one.

▲ ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎
Eleanor & Park is set in 1986 so that fits perfectly with the prompt - a book set in the decade you were born.
It's a third-person narrative from the points of view of two teenagers - Eleanor, a red-haired chubby girl and Park, a half-Korean comic book reader. Barely speaking to each other, the pair will end up forming a relationship through music and comics.
The book also deals with important topics like school bullying, family violence and identity quest.
What struck me the most is not the romance but Eleanor's chaotic life. Her family is broken and it was sometimes very painful to read her narrative. All I wanted to do was hug the kids.
This was a good book overall but I was nevertheless left with mixed feelings. The romance was lovely and real and the cultural references on point but the end disappointed me.
My first thought when I finished it was - Whaaat, that's it??

What did you read in January?

I'm about to finish The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and intend to dive into Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
The Twilight series have been on my bookshelf for years and it's about time I read it!

JANUARY READS

Smell the roses: make a playlist of your five favourite songs

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Hello friends!
Time to take a look at last week's smell the roses - make a playlist of your five favourite songs.

What is SMELL THE ROSES?

Last week has been a bit of a struggle for me.
So many emotions have hit me all at once - and as a result, I feel emotionally drained and physically tired.
But it's time to get back up and keep moving because I know I got this!

When I'm in such a mood, I don't really feel like talking and usually dive into a book or listen to music - and close my eyes.

Music can be very therapeutic and make me feel better when everything seems to go wrong.
Music speaks to my soul and heart, and helps me recover - faster & better.

I listen to music all the time and have multiple playlists on Spotify - from 90's music and musicals to TV shows theme tunes.
For this smell the roses, the only difficulty was to pick only five songs.
I have so many favourite songs!

There's something special about all of them - the melody, the lyrics, the charismatic lead singer...
Those I have picked for the compilation have been favourites for years and will probably always be.

Enjoy the playlist ♡

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?
Join in the project and link up your smell the roses post below.

There is only one rule: leave a comment on the blog that links up directly before you.
It's so important to support and encourage each other!

This week's goal is:
▲ Get a facial 

A PLAYLIST

Blogger reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell in the sunshine

Hello friends!
My blog turns one month old this weekend and I was recently nominated for a SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD.
How cool is that!

Thank you Ellie for this wonderful award - you are so sweet.
Please, check out her blog ELLIE K for great posts on productivity, positivity, food and anything lifestyle-related.
You can also find Ellie on Twitter and Instagram.

The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are as follow:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
2. Answer the eleven questions the blogger asked you.
3. Nominate eleven new blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
3. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or in your blog.

Here are my responses to Ellie's questions.

▲ How long have you been blogging?
MALOREADS launched on 28th December but if I'm being honest, I've been lurking around the blogosphere for years.
Anyone remembers when linkups and blog buttons were a thing? Well... I was there.
I blogged on and off with no real motivation but I've never stopped being an avid blog reader.
I'm hoping this time it will stick. Blogging is fun.

▲ What genre of music is your favourite?
I don't really have a favourite music genre.
I have a "favourites" playlist on Spotify which include a mix of genres: The Beatles, Eminem, TLC, ABBA, Serge Gainsbourg...
But I must admit I've really been into 90's music lately.

▲ Who is your biggest inspiration?
My grandmother. She has gone through quite a lot in her life.
Born in France during WW2, she was abandoned by her mother at birth and didn't know who her father was.
She married young to my grandfather, who was controlling & forbade her to work, and raised five children.
She also raised me after my parents' divorce.
My grandma passed away in 2013 from colon cancer and I miss her every single day.
She always encouraged me to follow my dreams and was the only person I could run to when I needed anything.

▲ What movie has had the biggest impact on your life?
Titanic by James Cameron.
I was a pre-teen when it was released and was emotionally shaken after watching it.
I'd read anything Titanic-related afterwards and have been a huge fan of Leonardo and Kate ever since.

▲ What time do you wake up in the morning?
I usually wake up at 6.30 on weekdays and around 8 on the weekends.
We're early birds here.

▲ If you could travel anywhere free of charge, where would you go?
I have always been fascinated by the variety of landscapes, cultures and people in the United States.
A road trip across the the country is definitely on my bucket list.

▲ What are your favourite blogs?
VIX MELDREW.
HELENE IN BETWEEN.
LOVE TAZA.
WONDER FOREST.

▲ If you could only eat one type of food forever, what would it be?
I can't make up my mind between sushi and pizza.
Both are so good.

▲ What are the top three things on your bucket list?
Top three things... Travel abroad with my husband & son, get published, be my own boss.

▲ What are you currently reading?
I'm currently reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
I'm on Goodreads if you want to follow my reading adventures.

▲ What was the last photo you took?
The last photo I took is this post's picture actually.

I nominate Maud from MY PASSION PROJECTS, Coral from THE DETERMINED DREAMER, Emma from BOOKING GOOD READ, Bella from LIFE WITH BELLA N, Selena from LENA DEE, Soffy from THE MUM AFFAIRS, Amanda from WE ARE MAGNETIC, Denise from WEESI'S WORLD, Alice from SINCERELY ALICE, Zoe from JUST ZOE and Kellie from KELLIE MARIE.

1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
2. What's been your favourite post from your blog so far?
3. What's your favourite social media platform?
4. What's your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
5. What's a short-term goal you wish to accomplish before the end of the year?
6. What's your ideal kind of day?
7. What's your favourite book?
8. Who's your celebrity crush?
9. Who would you most like to sit next to on a 10-hour flight and why?
10. If you could go back in time to witness a historical event, and only witness it, which event would you pick?
11. Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, and if so, where?

THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD

Smell the Roses: Travelling Postcards with Postcrossing
This is NOT a sponsored post.

Hello friends!
It's Monday, which means it's time for a recap of last week's smell the roses - leave a message for a stranger.

What is SMELL THE ROSES?

For this challenge, I didn't want to just leave a message on a bench or under a windshield wiper for a stranger.
I wanted it to be bigger, I wanted it to become a project - and then I thought of Postcrossing.

Believe me, as simple as it is, Postcrossing is genius.
It actually allows you to send and receive postcards from strangers from all around the world.

All you have to do is request an address, write a nice message on a postcard, stamp it and mail it on your nearest post office.
When your postcard arrives, the recipient will register it on the website (using the Postcard ID) and then you become eligible to receive a postcard from someone else in a random country.

You can leave any type of messages on the postcard.
It can be facts about yourself, interesting things to see & do in your area, your favourite book, favourite quote... anything nice.

Earlier last week, I bought a dozen cute postcards and stamps.
I requested an address - you can send up to five postcards but then must wait for them to be registered to send more.
I have written messages to Germany, Finland, Japan, the United States and Russia so far, and I can't wait to receive postcards from other people in different places in the world.
That is so exciting!

I created the hashtag #PostcrossingMaloreads for you and Postcrossers to follow my Postcrossing project as I will document it on Instagram - and probably on the blog too. I purposely left my username on the postcards I've sent and also asked Postcrossers who are going to send me postcards to write theirs down so that I can tag them in my posts.

I enjoyed picking cute cards & postcards from my local stationer's.
But I really want to support more small businesses this year so if you design lovely cards, leave your shop link down below!
I also loved writing to people from all over the world.
I mean, I never thought I would be sending a postcard to Japan one day!
What's more, as an introvert, I feel way more comfortable writing a message than talking - especially to a stranger.

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?
Join in the project and link up your smell the roses post below.

There is only one rule: leave a comment on the blog that links up directly before you.
It's so important to support and encourage each other!

This week's smell the roses is:
▲ Make a playlist of your five favourite songs 

TRAVELING POSTCARDS

2018 Blogging Goals

My lovely little blog launched on 28th December 2017 - so it's still very much in the baby stages.
It's such a wonderful outlet for expressing myself, and sharing what inspires and motivates me.
MaloReads, and blogging in general, is also a great tool to communicate and improve my English, which isn't my first language.

Although I'm still struggling to find the right balance between personal life, work and blogging, I need to say that this blog makes me incredibly happy and fulfilled. It's so much fun and allowed me to meet awesome people from around the world.
And my blog is not even one month old yet!

I can't wait to post more content and see it grow - just like TESS!
Here are my blogging goals for 2018.

One. Switch to Wordpress.
I'm currently on the Blogger platform and to be honest, I quite like it - it's free and easy to use.
But since I want to have full control of my blog, I need to go self-hosted and actually own my site/content.
Wordpress is also much better for SEO - which I still need to learn about!
Confession: SEO scares me but is necessary if I want my little blog to grow.

Two. Increase my interactivity on social media.
I want to engage more with other bloggers, and support more small bloggers/businesses as well.
Because of the lack of time or just lack of self-confidence (yes that happens), I don't interact as much as I would like to.
So let's participate in Twitter chats and comment more this year!

Three. Keep a consistent blog schedule.
Since the launch of my blog, I have managed to stick to a schedule.
I publish a new post twice a week, on Mondays & Thursdays - Monday posts being about my SMELL THE ROSES challenge.
To stay consistent, I plan on scheduling and drafting posts ahead of time more often.

Four. Grow my following.
Even if my blog is just a hobby at the moment, I really hope to increase my following and readership.
I already promote my posts on social media and try to respond to comments as soon as I can.
It's a good start - but that's not enough.
I've been using Pinterest for years for personal use, but need to start using it for my blog to get more views & grow my following.

These are simple goals - and I want to take things one step at a time.
I might start monetizing my blog this year but it's not my priority at the moment.

What are your blogging goals for 2018?
If you have any advice on one of these goals, please leave a comment below!

2018 BLOGGING GOALS

Smell the Roses: Tess

Hello friends!
Ready to start this new week?
Let's take a look back at last week's smell the roses - care for a house plant.

What is SMELL THE ROSES?

I have a confession to make.
I'm a disaster when it comes to caring for house plants.
I love plants but always forget about them - and let them dry and die.
Terrible.

I really wanted to give it another shot - not only do plants add greenery to a room but they also purify the air & reduce stress.
So I went to the closest garden centre and instantly set my sights on the cutest little plant - a white Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana.
Pronounce kal-un-KOH-ee or kal-un-kee.
"Great!" said my husband - that one requires minimal care!

Once I got home, I read all about the plant and its growing tips.
Indeed, Kalanchoes are not particularly hard to care for and grow - just little watering.
The Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana is a succulent flowering plant coming from the island of Madagascar, and it usually blossoms between February and April.

I repotted the plant into a larger vase - with the help of my husband, who loves gardening.
He also told me about compost but to be honest, I completely forgot about it.
I just wanted to take my little plant and place it on my coffee table.

Since I will try and grow this little beauty, I decided to name it.
TESS - like Tess Durbeyfield, one of my favourite literary characters.
At first glance, the plant looks so innocent and angelic.
Well... later found out that the Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana could be poisonous if the leaves are ingested.
So maybe I could have named it Lucrezia, Elle Driver or Yvonne...

That smell the roses is a real, long-term challenge for me - but it's going to be great to see that plant grow and flower.
Then I could have an indoor garden!
You'll be able to follow the development of Tess on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #growingTess.

Did you stop and smell the roses last week?
Join in the project and link up your smell the roses post below.

There is only one rule: leave a comment on the blog that links up directly before you.
It's so important to support and encourage each other!

This week's goal is:
▲ Leave a message for a stranger ▲

TESS

@MALOREADS

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