Blogging has become a huge part of my life over the past few years, and although it started off as simply a hobby, I've actually gained many skills and qualities from it. Whether you want something to write in your CV or prove that you're responsible, running a blog is a perfect demonstration of these qualities, although you might not realise it. In this post, I aim to share with you all of the positive attributes that you can gain from blogging, as well as persuading you to start one if you haven't already.

You can gain valuable skills that will be useful later in life
Blogging is actually great for gaining new skills and qualities that will definitely be useful, whether that's in school, work or just in general life. Your organisation and time management skills will both be improved as you have to prepare posts, take and edit photos, schedule social media posts and many other tasks that you have to carry out on a regular basis. There are some more specific skills which you will also gain, like technical skills (coding, photography and tracking analytics), marketing and writing skills. All of these are great to put on your CV and can be useful for any job, whether it's related to blogging or not.

It gives you the chance to improve and practice your writing
As I briefly mentioned in the previous point, blogging is a great way to practice writing, find your own voice and become comfortable with your unique style of writing. I definitely feel as though my writing has improved since starting my blog over two years ago, especially when it comes to more informal pieces. If you ever want to get a career in writing then blogging is a great way to start out and improve your own skills, as well as providing you with valuable experience.

You can interact with new people that share common interests
The amount of new people that I've came into contact with through my blog is incredible and I've definitely made some memorable friends through blogging. Whether you want to find people with similar interests or possible business partners, I can guarantee that blogging introduces you to an entire platform of new people, all of whom will probably share similar interests to you, for example the topic of your blog.

It boosts your self-confidence
Blogging will prove to you that you have the capability and potential to create something amazing, even if you initially doubt yourself. Also, the opportunity to share your true thoughts and interests with other people really gives you some added confidence. After blogging for over two years, I definitely think that I have more faith in my abilities and I no longer doubt myself, which shows how it will really benefit you to start a blog and prove to yourself that you are capable of doing something amazing with it when you put in some effort.

You will be challenged and able to try something new
When I started Daisies and Delights, I was persuaded by the idea of trying something completely different and like nothing I'd ever done before. By starting a blog, you'll be able to try your hand at coding, photography, writing posts and social promotion. Some of these may prove to be difficult and really challenge you, but ultimately your talents will grow and adapt to these new tasks. Also, trying something like blogging may become a new hobby that you'll really value in life.

It will bring you happiness
The ultimate reason as to why you should start a blog is because it's simply an enjoyable way to spend your time and will definitely bring you happiness if you stick to it. I really love blogging and I couldn't imagine how I'd spend my time without it. I wish that if you take one thing from this post, it's that you should blog for your own happiness as the main reason, above all else.

I hope that this post persuaded you to start a blog like mine and that the information I've shared will be useful and insightful. Thank you very much for reading this post, as your support is greatly appreciated as always. I'll be back with a new post next Sunday, so I'll see you then!

Love from Daisy x

Book launches are always incredibly exciting and there's nothing better than being one of the first people to read a new release. There are many young adult novels that are launching throughout the summer, which is perfect if you're like me and love to read underneath the summer sun, whether that's on holiday or just in the garden. I've selected a few books that I'm most excited for this summer, and I can guarantee that there'll be something for everyone amongst this collection!

United as One by Pittacus Lore
"The Mogadorian invasion has come to Earth, and they have all but won the battle for our planet. Their warships loom over our most populous cities—like New York City, Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi—and no army will risk making a move against them. The Garde are all that stand in their way . . . but they are no longer alone in this fight. Human teens from across the globe, like John Smith’s best friend, Sam Goode, have begun to develop Legacies of their own. The Garde have always known there is power in numbers. If they can find these new allies and join forces with them, they just might be able to win this war. The time has come for the Garde to make their final stand."

This release is for all of you loyal followers of the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore, as this is the seventh and final book, hopefully providing an epic conclusion. I'm pretty sure that the events won't make sense without reading the previous books, but what I do know is that this paranormal fantasy book will provide a satisfying end to the story arc, hopefully with a lot of adventure and action along the way. Although I haven't read any Pittacus Lore books, so I can't share my own thoughts on them, I've heard nothing but great reviews of them, with this series being a firm favourite of many people. This book, being released on 28th June 2016, is the perfect way to kick off your summer whilst bringing a beautiful series to its end.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
"Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within."

If you're a fan of young adult fiction, Victoria's name won't be unfamiliar to you and I'm certain that this release will excite you as much as her previous ones. Being the start of a new series, I feel as though lots of fresh, innovative ideas will be introduced and, from the summary, I can predict that a new light will be shed on the previous tired and repetitive aspects of dystopian fiction. The idea of monsters and an unusual love really intrigues me, and the fact that Victoria states it to be one of the strangest books she's ever written is all it takes to convince me that this will be popular and well-loved. Its expected publication is on 5th July 2016, so make sure you pick it up!

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey
"Everything in Echo's life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace. The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart. Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she's already overcome. She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight. Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature--or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what's left of her world to the ground? Welcome to the shadow hour."

If you're a fan of gripping high fantasy novels then this is definitely a recommendation for you, as Melissa Grey is back with the second book in her The Girl at Midnight series. Everything about this book sounds really interesting and urges me to read it, especially since it promises to feature magic and paranormal elements. As this is a sequel, I'd definitely recommend reading the previous book before this one, as it'll help you to make the most of the story and experience it in the best way possible. I definitely think that this may be one of the most underrated releases for this summer, but I'm sure that after its release on 12th June 2016, this book will attract the attention it deserves.

Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
"June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice. June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price. After years of gruelling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?"

Amidst all of the fantasy and dystopian books, I thought it was only right to recommend a contemporary novel since it is one of my favourite genres to read. From the synopsis, I can tell that this book is right up my street and is the ideal fast-paced, indulgent book. Not all of you may know this but I actually love dance, and so this book will combine two of my largest hobbies into something that I hopefully love. However, I do think that there'll be more to this book than what there appears, and I hope that what may seem like an innocent story about some ballerinas will actually become much more eventful and suspenseful. This book is expected to be published on 12th July 2016, so make sure you get it then if you're excited about this new release.

A World Without You by Beth Revis
"Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have "superpowers." At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age. But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she's not actually dead. He believes that she's stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it's his job to save her."

From what I've heard, Beth Revis is an excellent science fiction writer, which is evident from her critically acclaimed Across the Universe series that has had book bloggers and reviewers alike going crazy. This new novel of hers also features these elements of fantasy and time travel, but it seems to be a lot deeper, with a particular focus on mental health. I love how Beth is incorporating many different genres into her newest book, with romance, science fiction and contemporary all playing large parts, meaning this book will definitely appeal to a variety of people. This book will be published on 19th July 2016, so make sure you get it then to find out what happens in this exciting yet emotional novel.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
"A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts. In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead."

Being the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, also by Sabaa Tahir, it's no surprise why this dystopian young adult novel is a highly anticipated release. Although I don't know a great deal about this series, I'm aware that it has quite a lot of fantasy elements, as well as some adventure and romance, so I feel as though it will be suited to many different people. As I'd recommend with pretty much any sequel, make sure you read all of the previous titles beforehand, as I can guarantee that it'll be worth it and help you to fully enjoy this novel. It may seem like you've been waiting forever if you're a huge fan of this series, with the release date being pushed back and still no finished cover, however, the wait is almost over as it will be published on 30th August 2016.

I hope you liked hearing about all of these new releases and if there are any others that you think I've missed out, make sure you let me know in the comments. Thank you very much for reading this post and I'll see you next Sunday!

Love from Daisy x

You may have noticed that I recently changed my way of taking blog photos and I've since been experimenting with lots of different ideas and ways of taking photos. I really feel as though they've improved quite a bit and I've had quite a few messages from people asking what I do to take my new style of photos. Rather than just answering briefly to each question, I thought I'd share with you a more in-depth summary of how I take my photos in this post, including everything from setting up the photos to editing them. I feel as though these tips and techniques have taken my photos to the next level, so now it's time to share them with you!

It's always best to take your photos in a location that is bright and filled with natural light, as this will instantly make your photos look clear and appealing to the eye. It might be hard to resist the temptation of taking any photos in the evening and using artificial light, but this won't give a great effect and will often result in photos seeming dull, no matter how much you edit them. I'd recommend taking your photos either early in the morning or in the late afternoon when the shadows aren't too overpowering.

To make the item that you're photographing stand out, it's important to have a good background. I find that something neutral usually works with any product, but you can definitely mix it up depending on the theme of your blog and what you're taking photos of. I used to use a plain white background, but with this you're sometimes faced with the problem of it looking quite grey. However, I think that using patterned backgrounds really adds to the image and makes it seem more interesting. I find that using wallpapers as a base is the way forward as it allows you to customise your backgrounds and change them up whenever you want, which is something that I've done in all of my newest photos.

A mistake that I used to make with photographing for my blog, particularly with makeup posts, is that I'd take a photo of the product with nothing in the background. Although it's clear what you're talking about based on the image, it can look quite boring and there's lots of wasted space around the outside of the product. Whether it's a candle, makeup brushes or something else entirely, I think that it's nice to add something to the perimeter of your image, without letting them detract from the main focus of the photo.

If your camera or phone isn't set up in the right way, it can result in losing quality in your photos and them not looking the best. If you don't know what settings you should be using then I'd definitely recommend researching into it, as it will likely be different for every camera. Honestly, these settings can be the difference between good and bad quality photos, so it's always beneficial to be educated on how you're taking your photos. For my iPhone, I usually enable high dynamic range (HDR) and also slightly up the exposure, but with a camera you have much more control over the settings.

Probably one of the biggest disasters that you could have with photography is taking a load of photos only to realise that none of them are in focus. Having a central component of your image will really make it pop, especially if the background is slightly blurred out or not in focus. With an iPhone, this is as simple as tapping the screen where you want it to focus, and there are alternate methods of focusing with a camera. However, remember that this is a step that you shouldn't forget and can really make a difference to your photos.

Although you might think that you only need to take one photo, this could often result in it not being the best or how you'd like it. This is why it's best to take multiple photos, even if they look very similar, as it allows you to choose the best one. I usually take a couple of photos, adjust everything, take a few more and then repeat this until I think I'm happy with the outcome. Also, taking multiple photos means that you'll have other usable ones if you like to post different images to your blog and social media platforms, rather than the exact same one.

When you hear the word 'editing' you may think that you have to add lots of filters and drastically change the appearance of the image. However, this isn't the case with blog photos and they often only require a few subtle tweaks if you've followed all of the previous steps. I tend to steer clear from any filters and instead manually edit things like the brightness, contrast and exposure until I like how the image looks. The aim for editing is to make slight improvements, not drastically changing the images to the point of them being obviously edited.

I hope that these tips were helpful and that you will take them into account when photographing for your blog. If you have any photography tips then make you leave them down in the comments as I'd love to hear them. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week with a new post!

Love from Daisy x

To celebrate the release of Harriet Reuter Hapgood's debut novel The Square Root of Summer, MyKindaBook has launched an exciting global campaign - #ThisIsWhoIAm. Taking inspiration from the time capsule that characters Gottie and Thomas create in the book, I have been asked to think about what I'd include in a time capsule that represents me during the summer of 2016. This is definitely something that I was interested in doing and the idea of creating a time capsule has fascinated me since I was very young. Although it was difficult to decide what to include, I'm certain that everything in this time capsule would help me to remember who I am right now, and most importantly shows that This Is Who I Am. I included:

Reading is one of my biggest hobbies and I've loved books for as long as I can remember, so some of them are necessities in my time capsule. I feel as though books contain many memories for me and it'd also be interesting to see what I enjoyed reading as a teenager and whether my tastes have changed over the years. A few of the books that I'd want to include are:

  • City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare - Although I love the Mortal Instruments series as a whole, this book was a beautiful conclusion and I loved every minute of it. Not only does it show what I enjoyed reading as a teenager, but it represents a huge part of my life, and so this book was a necessary inclusion.
  • Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - This is another book that I'd class as a favourite and it was while reading it that I started to enjoy fantasy and science fiction novels, which are now my favourite genres. I also have many memories attached to this series, so I had to include it.
  • Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame - For me, this book represents how I've recently started to expand in what I read and try contemporary novels. Also, this is the first book that I was sent to review for my blog, which is a huge milestone that I want to remember.
Aside from reading and blogging, my biggest hobby is performing and I love to dance, sing and act, so I wanted to include things to show this in my time capsule. Tickets and programmes from shows will remind me of all of the performances I've done and roles that I've had, all of which I want to remember. I'd also love to include some videos, particularly of me dancing, as I think these would be interesting to see and I definitely have some memorable moments dancing, such as when I first nailed my set of fouetté turns or self-choreographed a trio with some of my best friends.

Being the Head Girl of my secondary school was a huge achievement for me and definitely something that I want to remember for a long time. Including my badge in the time capsule will act as a reminder of this memory and convince my future self to have some more self-belief and confidence. It will also act as a reminder of my time in education in general as I have plenty of happy memories from school that I don't want to forget.

Writing is something that I thoroughly enjoy and want to continue in the future, whether that's just through blogging or in my job. One of my biggest goals is to write a book myself and this is something that I've aimed to do since I was a child. I feel as though my first proper attempt at writing a book was from NaNoWriMo last year, where I wrote over 20,000 words of a novel that I was really pleased with. I want to include this to show my future self where I started in regards to writing and also to inspire me to continue creating stories in the future.

Music is a huge part of my life, with Spotify constantly playing, and it just takes one song to evoke many memories. I can guarantee that as I became older I'd forget some of these beautiful songs, and so keeping a copy of them in my time capsule would allow me to reminisce. Some of the many songs that I'd choose are:

  • Heart of Stone by Iko - my all-time favourite song had to be included, and it also acts as a nod to my Twilight obsession
  • Bonfire Heart by James Blunt - the song which reminds me of my family holiday in America and consequently some of my favourite memories
  • Turning Page by Sleeping at Last - I'm honestly in love with every Sleeping at Last song, but this is probably my favourite and the first of his that I ever heard
  • Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon - my feel-good song and a reminder of my holidays in Spain, which is practically a second home to me
  • Unfaithful by Rihanna - my favourite song growing up and the first popular song that I learned how to play on keyboard
Photos are really special as they can capture a moment or event perfectly and allow you to remember it in more detail than ever. I have plenty of photos on my phone and laptop that document my life and give an accurate representation of who I am at this moment of time, so I'd love to include them in my time capsule. Whether it's random photos from my daily life or those featuring my family and friends, these memories would probably be the most cherished and therefore an important part of the time capsule. I'd also love to see how I've changed and how my life is different when I'm older and open up the time capsule.

This is the final thing that I'd like to include in my time capsule. I think that something like this would be a great addition as it allows me to see what life was like when creating the time capsule. Whether the letter was a formal one addressed to my future self or just discussed my general life, I think that reading it in the future would be incredibly funny and sentimental. Although I've never been one to keep a diary, a letter like this would be a great way to document a moment in my life for me to relive in the future.

I'm incredibly thankful for the people at MyKindaBook and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to share what would be in my time capsule and for sending me this book. If you'd like a review of it sometime in the future then just let me know, as I'd be more than happy to write one. Now that you've seen what's in my time capsule I'd love for you to share yours, which you can do using the hashtag #ThisIsWhoIAm on social media. I hope you enjoyed this post and I'll see you next week with a new one!

Love from Daisy x

The Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is a product that I'm certain has changed my skin for the better, helping it to become a lot cleaner and less susceptible to blemishes. As Liz Earle is a natural skincare brand, I knew that this cleanser would be beneficial for the skin without including any harmful chemicals or other ingredients, as well as having other positives like not testing on animals. Furthermore, every single review that I've seen of it has been extremely positive and gives praise to this cleanser, being yet another reason why I was eager to try it. Now that I've fully formed my opinions of this product, I've decided to write an in-depth review of it, including mentions of ingredients, benefits for the skin and any other thoughts that I have about it.

As always, I thought that I'd start by briefly commenting about the packaging of this product, which I feel as though is quite simplistic and minimal, perfect for an all-natural skincare brand. Everything about it feels natural and gives me the impression of being calm and soothing, which I really like and it definitely is an added bonus with a lovely product like this. Probably my favourite part of the packaging is the fact that it includes a pump, which means that it doesn't create a mess, and it's much easier to dispense the required amount of product from the bottle.

If you like to know what is used to make certain products then you'll be pleased to hear that the list of ingredients for the Cleanse and Polish includes rosemary, cocoa butter, chamomile and eucalyptus essential oils, all of which are natural and beneficial for the skin. Beeswax is also included, making this cleaner incredibly moisturising and therefore great for anyone with dry skin. I'd definitely urge you to read more about the ingredients included in this product as some of them are incredibly useful for the skin and it's amazing how many different benefits this cleanser addresses.

When using this product, I start by taking a pump or two of it and applying it onto my hands, rubbing it into my dry face. I ensure that it is covering any areas where makeup has been applied and continue to thoroughly massage it in until my makeup has started to melt away. At this point, I take a muslin cloth that has been soaked in hot water and squeeze it out, before rubbing it all over my face. This is much less messy than splashing your face with water and it means that you can thoroughly wipe away any dirt whilst exfoliating your skin with the muslin cloth.

I've also found after using this product a lot that it's great for removing eye and lip makeup, in addition to facial makeup. This makes this product a multi-purpose cleanser and means that you can quickly remove all of your makeup in one go, opposed to using separate products. To remove any lipstick and mascara, I simply massage the products thoroughly into these areas until the makeup appears to have melted away. Also, this cleanser doesn't tend to sting when it goes near my eyes, which is a problem that I frequently encounter with other products.

I definitely think that my skin feels a lot fresher and smoother after using this product on a regular basis, and I can also tell that it's really helped prevent some of my blemishes and clear the existing ones. All of my makeup is melted away with not a trace left behind, and in return I'm left with a revitalised face that feels extremely clean. I also find that it helps to balance out the dryness of my skin and add more moisture to it, leaving me looking healthy opposed to dehydrated.

Overall, I'm absolutely amazed at the performance of the product and I firmly believe that it's responsible for rescuing and restoring my skin. It's definitely produced some amazing results and hopefully, this will persist as I continue to use this product on a daily basis. Thanks for reading and I'd love to know your thoughts and opinions on this cleanser, so make sure you leave them down in the comments!

Love from Daisy x