Monday, August 14, 2017

Books I Read in July (ft. Booktube-a-thon Results)

Not sponsored/paid | ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here

Hi!

I usually get my round-up posts up during the first week of the month, but I was away with the family for a week so didn't get a chance to update anything - I won't lie, it was GLORIOUS. But, back to reality - and my July reads.

I read 18 books in July.

THE RICK O'SHEA BOOK CLUB


The two choices for July were To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell and One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley.

To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell
This is a non-fiction account of the author's discovery and interest in Transhumanism. He meets many eccentric people on his journey to find out more about the movement - those involved believe that bodies will eventually be redundant, that our brains will be fed into machines and we will be able to live forever. It's a really interesting book, and the people he meets along the way are fascinating.



LIBRARY BOOKS

Including the book above, I also borrowed these from the library in July:

  

The Book of Chocolate by HP Newquist
I love those How Things are Made programmes so this caught my eye on the Borrowbox app - it's full of information about how chocolate became so popular and mainstream, plus it has stories about some of the major manufacturers and some random facts to file away for a pub quiz (the percentage of chocolate in white chocolate - 0%). I found it really interesting!

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter
I had never read anything by Dawn before (apart from her column) so I was excited to start this - it's the story of three women linked by different events. It's incredibly strange in parts and quite unsettling when you really look at the motivation of one of the women - but covers important subjects (child-free by choice, abortion, hereditary illness, male dominated workplace, going viral, sexuality) and I found it enjoyable.

The Midnight Court by Brian Merriman, translated by Ciaran Carson
I've borrowed this multiple times at this stage - it's a 1,000 line poem written in the 1700s about a man who falls asleep and enters a dream kingdom where men are punished at a fairy court for their reluctance to marry - it's a really lively, satirical poem, full of biting social commentary. This and Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti are my favourite poems (both are freely available to read online).

ADVANCE COPIES

   

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady
This is a light, sweet read based on Persuasion by Jane Austen. It's about a woman who has ended up being responsible for her entire family, losing the love of her life in the process. She gets a wonderful job opportunity only to discover that said love has the lead role. I read this one afternoon, it was an easy, cosy read.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
I had previously bought this on Kindle, but hadn't read it, and didn't realise it was the same book. It's an engaging thriller about a mother who wants the very best for her only son - is his new girlfriend good enough? I enjoyed this a lot and could see it getting a TV adaptation at some point. Both the mother and girlfriend were strong characters, and this was really well written.

CONTEMPORARY 

 

All The Rage by Courtney Summers
I've had this on my Kindle for a very long time, and decided that the best way to start clearing the backlog was to start reading from the beginning of the list any time I'm stuck for a book. This isn't an easy read - it's about how a sexual assault has changed the life of a teenage girl. Many books focus on the "before" - this is the "after". It's powerful, but it's unsettling. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
The blurb on this is a little misleading - it reads as if it's a story about a woman who meets and falls in love with a man, only for a former flame to return and throw a spanner in the works. There's an element of truth to that, but it's also a very real look at a very, very troubled relationship. I don't want to spoil it, but proceed with caution. "Enjoy" would be the wrong word here but it's right up there with my favourites of the year so far. Colleen is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. 

OTHER READS

  

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
This was a wonderful non-fiction read. Lindy talks about fatphobia, online trolls, body acceptance, the diet industry, and feminism. I saw a lot of myself in here, and it's a book I'll go back to again. Highly recommended - this is everything I wanted the horrible Fat is a Feminist Issue to be (and more). 

The Dry by Jane Harper
Set in Australia, our main character Aaron Falk is a Detective who returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of a childhood friend, Luke Hadler, who has taken his own life after murdering his family. Luke's parents think he was framed, and want Aaron to investigate, but do the townsfolk really want Aaron back, considering they ran he and his father out of town many years before? Really enjoyed this. It goes back and forth between the present day case and an event that destroyed the town years before. 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I really enjoyed both of this author's previous books (In a Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10) so I pre-ordered this. It took me an age to read - far longer than usual. It's about a woman who gets a text from a childhood friend asking for help - so she travels to her immediately, as do their other two friends. An event that took place when the girls were teenagers has come back to haunt them, and they might be exposed as the liars they are...  I didn't really enjoy this, I feel like it was drawn out and boring. But, other people seem to disagree so give it a go if you like back-and-forth mysteries. 

BOOKTUBE-A-THON

This year, Booktube-a-thon took place from July 24th - 30th and for the first time since I joined up in 2014, I managed to complete all seven challenges. You can see my post about planning my Booktube-a-thon reads here. I stuck to my TBR for the most part, only swapping out two books. 



Read about a character different to you: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 
The main characters are Indian-American teens who attend a summer camp aimed at those interested in app development and technology. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole pile of app development - instead, we had a ridiculous talent show and a whole heap of Insta-love. I didn't enjoy it, but I did enjoy the learning experience. 

Read a book in one day:  Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel
This was also the book that Ariel picked as the "group read" for Booktube-a-thon this year. It's a contemporary YA book about a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her sister. She uses index cards to journal her days - and then she loses one. I really, really liked this book - it was touching and sweet. 

Read a seventh book: Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
A cute YA novel about a teenage girl who goes to stay with her estranged Grandmother along with her mother who is recuperating from cancer. While there, the girl finds her Gran's old diary from when she was a teenager - and realises that perhaps, they're not so different. I adored the diary chapters, I'd recommend it for those alone. The present-day story was a bit bland, but otherwise it was a good read. 

Read a book outside: Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughn
It's very hard to not compare this graphic novel to Stranger Things - there are gangs of teenagers on bikes, in the 80's, and some kind of alien presence - I really loved this, and I've Vol.2 ready to go from the library. 

Read a hyped book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I only started reading books by this author this year, and am a fan of her ACOTAR series. They're young adult fantasy novels, and this, her other series, has been mentioned so many times that I've lost count. I finally went for it - and immediately got sucked in to the world of Celaena, an assassin released from prison to participate in a test to become the King's Champion.

Read a book with a person on the cover: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
The second I finished the first book in the series, I wanted to drop everything and move on to book two - so I did, using it for this prompt. This one continues Celaena's story, and is full of action and adventure like the first one. It's a fun series to read and I'll happily see the series out. 

Read a book you bought for the cover: She is not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
I saw this in Charlie Byrne's last year and was drawn to the cover immediately - it's a neat little hardback with that amazing picture on the dust jacket. I had read another book by that author and found him quirky, so picked this up. It's about a blind girl who travels to the US with her younger brother to find their Dad, they think something really weird is going on and that their Dad is in danger. It was a strange book - I could have done without the "events" in America (the Dad's story was weird enough). Great premise, very clever, but let down by the poor plot. 

So - there we go, that was my July in books. I'm up to almost 100 books for the year now, and I think that'll start to wane a little as we come into crafting season - but for now I'll plough on and see you in September for the August round up (there are some absolute corkers on the way). 






Blogger Tricks

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Blog Tour: The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

ARC clearly defined in accordance with policy here

Hi!

Today, I'm hosting the final stop on the blog tour for The Upstairs Room, by Kate Murray-Browne. The cover of this caught my eye on Netgalley instantly, and I was thrilled when the publishers got in touch to see if I'd like to take part in the blog tour. Thanks to Don and Picador!


PLOT

Eleanor and Richard have bought the house of their dreams - a Victorian townhouse in London. They rent the basement out to Zoe, a twenty-something year old receptionist at the development firm where Richard works. As Richard becomes slightly obsessed with keeping tabs on Zoe, Eleanor is convinced that something evil is at work in the house. The name "Emily" appears in scrawls all over the walls, and her youngest child Rosie becomes more and more hostile. Eleanor soon realises that the house may be affecting her health, and vows to figure out what's going on.

Meanwhile, Zoe is contemplating her life and comparing herself to others who seem to have done more. She has horrific nightmares and dreams about the presence of a young girl. Is the house starting to affect her too? 

THOUGHTS

I've been describing this as "Hammer Horror meets David Nicholls". There are two very different stories linked by the house - Zoe's story is the contemporary relationship drama, a young woman unsure of what she wants from life. Eleanor's is the story of a woman in a marriage bordering on stale, who is desperately trying to figure out why the house is having such a detrimental effect on her health. She's worried about her children, especially her daughter Rosie. She wants to find out what happened in the house - and who "Emily" is........or was. 

This novel could have worked without Zoe's story - but I think it adds another dimension, and gives the book a modern feel. It's set in 2013, but parts of it are so creepy and dark that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a gothic setting. 


I'd recommend this if you like contemporary stories with a creepy edge. I'm a big fan of houses being used as characters, and this one has plenty of personality. I also liked that there were some genuinely quite spooky moments (the one that inspired the photograph above gave me chills). 

The Upstairs Room is published today, July 27th by Picador. 

RATING


If you'd like to visit the other stops on the blog tour, you can find them below - there are extracts, reviews and lots more. 





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Hi!

Cauliflower seems to have enjoyed a revival in recent years. Anyone who has scrolled through Pinterest for more than a few minutes had probably seen how it can be substituted for numerous different things, including rice and potatoes. I've even seen a recipe for cauliflower "wings" - dupes for spicy chicken wings using Frank's Hot Sauce. Unfortunately myself and the hot sauce didn't get along (not to my taste at all) so I won't be trying that one - but I was dying to try a proper Cauliflower pizza base.

I've tried this a few times before, and it has never turned out right. This time I used Lauren Goslin's method, and adapted the recipe to suit my measuring system. This base has no dairy or gluten (toppings excluded).

Lauren's original recipe and instructions can be found here: Oatmeal With a Fork

This is my adaptation. I made it bold even more delicious with some cheese and chorizo - but you can use any topping you want.


For the pizza base, you'll need:


Equipment: A grater, baking paper, shallow baking tin or dish, chopping board, grater, bowl (microwave suitable), sharp knife, clean towel, scales or scoop, whisk.
Ingredients: 230g fresh cauliflower florets (1 standard fresh cauliflower is more than enough), 1 medium egg, pinch of sea salt, pinch of garlic powder, pinch of oregano, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 45ml water. Toppings of your choice.

Make cauliflower "rice" by grating the raw florets into a bowl.


Add the water to the bowl, microwave on full power for 1 minute. Remove WITH CARE, the bowl will be extremely hot. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400f/200c/Gas 6.

When cool, empty the "rice" out onto a clean tea towel and wring all the water out.

In a clean bowl (I just rinsed the same one) whisk together the egg, olive oil, garlic powder, oregano and salt.


Add the cauliflower to the egg mixture and mix everything thoroughly.


Take your baking paper or greaseproof paper and your tin, turn your tin upside down, draw around it, and cut the circle of paper to match the size of the tin.


Lightly grease the tin and smooth the paper on top.


Spoon your cauliflower mix in and smooth it out evenly. You can use your spoon to create a raised edge to act as a crust, just push the mixture gently from the middle out towards the edges.


Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for 30-40 mins or until golden.


Add the topping of your choice - I used passata, some grated low fat cheese, and some chorizo. Increase the oven temperature to 450f/230c/Gas 8 and bake for 6-7 minutes or until topping is cooked.


Leave to cool slightly, then peel the paper off and plate it up!

The question I get the most when I mention this is "does it taste like cauliflower" - Well, look - it IS cauliflower, so yeah, it does. But it's not overpowering and it tends to take on the stronger flavours (like chorizo here, or onion).

Please let me know if you try it!



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Box Club: June 2017 - Spells and Remedies

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I mentioned in my last Owlcrate unboxing that it would be my last box. I wanted something a little closer to home, and after trying Book Box Club for a couple of months last year, I decided that I was going to subscribe to them permanently.

My first box of the new subscription was the June Schoolroom Scandals box, and it was a beauty - I did an unboxing post on Instagram:


I thought I'd do a blog post on the July Spells and Remedies box to give you an idea of what to expect if you're thinking of signing up.


Every month, the box contains a wrapped book, themed goodies, and a scroll inviting you to an online forum/chat. I love this idea (even if I always forget when the chat is) - I'm going to make sure I don't miss the next one, because it's usually a Q&A with the author of the previous month's book.


I love that the book is wrapped, it adds an extra surprise to the box.


This month's book was The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy:

Every seven years something disappears in the remote town of Sterling: people's reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden - and one young woman's desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save the people of Sterling from the past.

It looks like it's right up my alley, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Also included were a signed bookplate, the aformentioned scroll, and two bookmarks - one a promo for After the Fire by Will Hill (a Zoella Book Club pick this year) and a Shakespeare one by Holly Grace Illustration


We also received gorgeous fabric bunting created exclusively for this box by The Literary Omnistore; Hocus Focus loose tea by Bluebird Tea Co.; Raven Boys inspired soap handmade by Just Fribble (two scents available - I got 300 Fox Way) and an illustrated compact mirror designed by Moon Kestrel


Finally, there was the usual card that tells us what's in the box, and two extras - samplers of upcoming releases by Holly Bourne and M.A. Bennett. I love these little chapter samplers, they're a great way to tell if something will grab you from the first chapter or not. 

And that's it - the August box is currently on sale, you can find out more by visiting the site at www.bookboxclub.com. They post internationally, their customer service is fantastic, and they also have a new option for those of you who'd love to receive a new YA release every month without the extra merchandise. Purely Books is launching soon, and you can find out more on their site. 

So - tempted? 




Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blog Tour: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

ARC clearly defined in accordance with policy here

Hi!

Book blog tours are great, they're something I promised myself I'd do more of in 2017 - this one in particular is exciting and a bit of an honour for me, because I've been a fan of this author for a long time.

Today I'm hosting a stop on the tour for Karin Slaughter's latest standalone release, The Good Daughter.




PLOT

Charlotte and Samantha Quinn are just young teenagers when gunmen enter their home one evening and change their lives forever. Their father Rusty, is known locally as "Attorney for the Damned" - and that reputation has caused the entire family nothing but unimaginable trouble. 

Now in her forties, Charlotte is a defense attorney. When she is one of the only witnesses to a terrible crime that rocks the community, it drags up the events of almost thirty years ago. The family will once again be put under scrutiny -  their loyalties questioned, their past examined, their truths uncovered. They will need to face their demons in order to work together and make sure justice is served. Again. 

THOUGHTS

This is a beast of a book (almost 600 pages) and I read it in one day, two sittings. If you're familiar with the work of this author you'll know how well she writes Police dramas - unusually, this one is told from the POV of the lawyers. It's one of those claustrophobic rotten-to-the-core smalltown books that this author knows how to do so well. 

I enjoyed this so much - it's one of my favourites of the year so far, and one of my favourite Karin Slaughter novels so far. It has a great plot, terrifying villains, really atmospheric setting, and strong female leads (one of the strongest being a transgender character who I would like to adopt me). I like the way the story is revealed, and how we go back every so often to find out what really happened on that fateful night almost 30 years ago. There are graphic, violent scenes that won't be a surprise to fellow fans, particularly in relation to some of the 1989 chapters. This isn't a problem for me, but proceed with caution if this is something that concerns you.

Although this is a standalone, there is a prequel available. It's a novella called  Last Breath (The Good Daughter #0.5) that's set a few years before this story takes place. It follows a case that Charlie takes on pro bono, and is not related to the events in this story. I read and enjoyed it very much too, I would love to read more stories featuring these characters.

The Good Daughter is available for Kindle and from all good booksellers now (and don't forget your library!).

RATING


If you'd like to see some reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour, please check them out below!





Saturday, July 15, 2017

Empties April - June 2017

Not sponsored or paid. Samples clearly defined.

Hi!

I promised myself at the start of the year that I'd start making more of an effort to use products up fully before buying any more, and I'm happy to say that it's going great. No more needless Boots or Chemist hauls at €50 a pop - it's made a huge difference to the amount of money I'm saving. Or, squandering elsewhere (looking at you, Etsy).

You can see my empties from January to March here:

Empties January - March


Here's what I got through in April, May and June:



***BODY/SKIN***




Moo Goo Milk Wash Gifted from Company
Melanie from MooGoo very kindly sent me a box of goodies about a year ago. I had been using some of them on and off, but wanted to finish this. MooGoo are free from sulfates, parabens and all nasty chemicals. There's not much in the way of a lather, but it's a pleasant wash to use. 
Would I buy again?
I would. MooGoo are one of a few brands that I know won't cause anyone in the house any skin irritation - one of my twins is very prone to allergic reactions from bath products so it's nice to have a reliable brand to go to.

Lush Snow Fairy Shower Gel
I bought this last year as part of an order I placed online. It's very sweet and has a hint of shimmer through it. It's also very bubbly.
Would I buy again?
Nope. Maybe if I had a Lush shop nearby, I'd buy more of their stuff - but I hate ordering online because I can't smell the products beforehand. Had I known this particular scent was this sickly sweet (it smells like Wham bars) I wouldn't have bought it. 

Sass Intimite Skin Concentrate
This is a soothing gel that you apply to your intimate area after waxing or shaving to reduce ingrown hair growth and itching. I reviewed it in full here
Would I buy again?
I've bought this a couple of times and I miss it when I don't have it - there's a noticeable difference in the degree of itching, so I will continue to repurchase it. 


Sure Maximum Protection Anti-Perspirant
I've mentioned this so many times at this point I'd say people think I work for them (I don't) - for me, it's the best anti-sweat product on the market at the minute and I will continue to buy it (in bulk when it's on sale). 

Rituals Ritual of Sakura Body Cream
I got this in a beauty subscription box or possibly the Look Fantastic advent calendar last year. It's a rich body cream that contains no parabens, this one smells like cherry.
Would I buy again?
Nope. It's very pleasant, but I found the scent a little overpowering. It does leave my skin feeling smooth, but so do other cheaper, less scented creams. 

Lancome Hydra Zen Moisturising Cream
I can't even remember where I got this, I think it was in one of those gift-with-purchase bags that Lancome do sometimes. It's an "anti-stress" moisturiser with SPF 15.
Would I buy again?
Nope. It was very thick and I could feel it sitting on my skin. It also stung like a scorpion if it got near my eyes, and it's nearly €50 for a full size pot. 

Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturizer
I got this in the Look Fantastic advent calendar - it's nice, it's a pleasant daytime moisturiser that smells of oranges. Very similar to The Body Shop Vitamin C one, maybe a little thicker. 
Would I buy again?
No. It's more expensive than The Body Shop one and it was just a nice moisturiser, nothing amazing. 

***FACE/HANDS***


Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover
Well, clearly it's not magic, it's just a sponge soaked in nail polish remover and put in a pot - but it's very handy and lasts ages. It works fast, and does the job.
Would I buy again?
Yep. I've tried the Essence one and while it's good, the Bourjois sponge is stronger and seems to work faster. I've bought this a few times and will buy it again.

Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray
This is the original one, I think there have been a few other versions released since (and with new packaging). A few sprays make sure that makeup stays in place even in hot weather.
Would I buy again?
I would. I've gone through a couple of these and tried a few other brands (I liked the L'Oreal one, I hated the NYX and Rimmel ones) but this is still my favourite setting spray and something I make sure to buy whenever I'm near Debenhams.

La Roche Posay Anthelios Invisible Fresh Mist PR Sample
This is a factor 50 SPF spray that dries clear. I used this during the heatwave in May and was very glad to have it, it can also be used to set makeup. It has both UVB and UVA protection.
Would I buy again?
If I wanted a facial SPF mist, I would choose this brand over another. 

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Cream PR Sample
Again, this is a high factor SPF that can be used on the face. It's anti-shine and dries quickly. 
Would I buy again?
Honestly? Not in the pump packaging. I found it hard to get out of the tube at times and I couldn't tell how much was left. I'd buy the formula, but in another package. I tend to break out in a heat rash even when using sun creams, and this didn't happen when using any of the Anthelios range. 

The Body Shop Wild Argan Oil Hand Cream
Part of The Body Shop's Wild Argan Oil range. This smells divine, really rich and luxurious. As a hand cream it did the job - left hands smooth and not too greasy.
Would I buy again?
I like The Body Shop hand creams, so I would, but only from the UK because as I've mentioned before, we are very much screwed over in Ireland when it comes to this particular brand. (30ml hand creams are £4/€4.50 in the UK and €9.95 here)

***MAKEUP***


L'Oreal Miss Manga Mascara
An ultra black mascara that gives the effect of length and volume to lashes.
Would I buy again?
No. While I liked it at the start, it went clumpy fairly quickly and this happened both times I bought it, so I wouldn't buy again.

Bourjois CC Cream
Again, this is something I could get commission on at this stage - it's a firm favourite and I'll buy it as long as it's available. On that note - this has been discontinued in pharmacies, but is still available in Boots and via Littlewoods.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
This promises to give an effect that makes lashes look long and multiplied.
Would I buy again?
No. I didn't like this. I thought the brush was too small and the formula was very wet.

NYX Tame and Frame Brow Pomade
A brow cream to give colour and definition to eyebrows. I reviewed this and compared it to Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade here
Would I buy again?
No, only because I've switched to using a powder for my eyebrows. If I was looking for a cream product I'd buy it again. 

Code VLM Mascara
This has been hyped for a while, with many claiming it to be the best mascara out there. It's very black and gives length and volume.
Would I buy again?
Not a hope in hell, it's €15 for a mini. I didn't find it particularly great compared to other (cheaper) brands and was annoyed at myself for falling for the hype.

***HAIR***


CoLab Dry Shampoo - London
"Sheer and Invisible" dry shampoo with a crisp scent. 
Would I buy again?
Yes. I thought it was good value for money (under €5), it lasted ages, it did the job, the scent was lovely, and it didn't leave massive white marks on my hair. I really liked this and will repurchase.

Redken Heatcure Hair Treatment
A self-heating conditioning hair treatment that stops flyaways and reduces frizz. The treatment heats up when the sticker on the front of the pack is peeled off, then it can be applied to the hair.
Would I buy again?
Yes, I first received this in a Look Fantastic box and later bought the full pack (twice). I try to ration these but they're so, so good - my hair is notoriously frizzy and huge, this tames it down and I wish I could use it every time I washed my Hagrid-like tresses. Love the stuff. 

***MASKS***


Purederm Exfoliating Foot Mask
A pair of plastic socks filled with a liquid designed to help callous/hard skin removal. You pop the socks on, leave them for 90 minutes, and wash off. Within a week your feet will start peeling, shedding all the old skin and leaving baby-soft skin underneath.
Would I buy again?
YESS. I've 5 on the way from eBay as I type. I love these, I've been using them for years since they hit Penneys a few years ago. They sometimes crop up in chemists, but I like to have a few on standby. They're unreal, they work great, but maybe if you find the thought of shedding skin a bit icky, avoid these. If, like me, you can think of nothing more satisfying than sitting picking your feet with a face mask on and a glass of wine, then these were made for you!

Vitamasques Pomegranate Moisturising + Firming + Lifting Face Mask
I got this in a Look Fantastic box. It's a sheet mask infused with extracts of pomegranate, and claims to moisturise and lift your skin.
Would I buy again?
Nope. This was saturated with product - the mask kept sliding off my face. The scent was pleasant, the feeling when I removed it was pleasant, but I didn't notice any major improvement with regard to the moisture content of my face. It just felt clean, not particularly lifted or firm.

Nügg Hydrating Face Mask
A little pot that contains a generous application of cream mask. This one contains camellia seed oil and spirulina extract.
Would I buy again?
No. I thought it was gimmicky. The pot was expensive compared to other masks and while the size was generous, there wasn't any real way to store it for future use unless I used a plastic pot or bag. It was fine - it was a standard mask, no better than the ones you find in the Supermarket.

***MINIS***


Nuxe Melting Cleansing Oil
I think this was a sample that came with a Cloud 10 Beauty order. I don't really remember it being outstanding - it did the job, took makeup off. I wouldn't buy it.

White Glo Bright Nights Teeth Whitening Films
The film needs to be applied to clean, dry teeth and then left on to melt - while this did brighten my teeth, the film tasted vile and made me gag. I wouldn't buy again - these are from Penneys.

Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick Samples
I love the packaging of these, they're so luxurious. They were included with an order from Charlotte Tilbury, and there was enough in each application for a good sample to see what they looked like on my lips.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Sample
I had been saving this for a while because I was afraid I'd love it and then want the full size one (€90). Unfortunately, I did love it - I loved the way it felt on my face, I loved the consistency and I loved the scent. I'm not going to buy it unless by some miracle there's a discount (or she makes a smaller pot). It's gorgeous but it's not price-of-a-weeks-groceries gorgeous.

Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream Perfume Sample
Awful. And, sod's law, it lingered longer on me than any perfume I've used before. I found it pungent and old fashioned, almost like the smell of a dusty room. I used the whole sample to see if I could make it work - but nope. It's how I imagine that cobweb-covered room from Great Expectations would smell. Or old Rose in Titanic.



So - that's it. I'll be back in October with a round up of the products I use up over July, August and September - I'm slowly making my way out of hoarding and into only buying things I really love. Am I finally a grown up?

If you've used any of this stuff, give me a shout and let me know what you think!




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bookish Present Ideas

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I celebrated my birthday recently, meaning every member of my family gave me money (with the instructions "don't spend it on the children") because I am notoriously difficult to buy for. As a result, I've been taking the whole "Treat Yo Self" idea VERY seriously, and have bought a plethora of bookish goodies. I thought I'd put a post together to help others find interesting, quirky gifts for bookish people.

Books

Okay, this is less quirky and more obvious, but I'm putting it in anyway. If you have access to your recipient's Amazon wish list you're laughing - otherwise this may take a little thought to choose something they haven't read already. I think non-fiction is a good option here - or a nice hardback that they wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves. Here are the books I've purchased:


Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
I'm a big fan of Shirley Jackson's writing (my favourite is We Have Always Lived in the Castle), so I'm excited to read this biography.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
After Carrie's untimely death last year, I kept seeing quotes from this book online, so I added it to my to-buy list.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
I read this at the weekend and I'm torn between warning you about it and not wanting to spoil it - It features very heavy subject matter that's not mentioned in the blurb, but I'm really glad I read it. It's a hard one to get through and not at all what I expected - so I'd say if you're in a strong place mentally give it a go. Colleen is fast becoming one of those authors that I'll just buy without even looking at a blurb.

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West
I also read this at the weekend and it's everything I wanted Susie Orbach's Fat is a Feminist Issue to be. It's a wonderful read about accepting yourself and finding the confidence to shout, rather than whisper. It's about claiming your space and knowing your worth, knowing when a "no" is the right decision, and knowing when to stand up and say "I'm not having any part in this, this is wrong". A fantastic read that I'll no doubt dip in and out of regularly.

A Book Buddy

These have probably been around since the dawn of time but it's only recently that I've seen them grow in popularity - a book buddy is essentially a padded fabric bag that you can keep your book or e-reader in to stop it from getting dirty or torn. These aren't overly hard to make - if you're good with a sewing machine or knitting needles, you could rustle one up yourself. I went to Etsy for mine, and used a seller called Melvis Makes. I picked the medium, it's big enough to fit one thick standard paperback, a larger Indie book, a smaller hardback or two small paperbacks.



A Personal Library Kit

Do I ever lend my books to people? Nope. Not since a friend borrowed The Babysitters Club: Mary-Anne's Makeover in Secondary school and never returned it. So why do I need this? Because as a child, library was one of my favourite games to play with my sister. We both really wanted a stamper and yes, you can probably pick those up in Euro shops now - but this is such a cute little kit and I couldn't resist it. I picked it up from Book Depository.


Bookmarks

Not a new idea by any means, but bookmarks have become a lot more exciting than they used to be. Magnetic character bookmarks are popular, and are available in every character you can think of. There are also standard ones featuring any TV show or quote you could think of, and lots of custom sellers on Etsy who can make you something if you can't find it. I bought my Gilmore Girls one from Beyond The Pages, the Caraval one was from That Bookie Bookmarks, and the little Stephen King and Snape ones from Epik Page.


Bookish Themed Candles

Books and candles go together like...books...and....candles. This is another huge trend right now, and there are many candle makers. I've found some good ones (and some not so good), but I've got a few sellers that I'd recommend. I received some of these in book subscription boxes, but the ones I bought were from Book and Nook, Pret a Geek, and Ivylicious Soy Candles.


A Personal Book Shopping Experience at Dubray Books

I saw this via The Rick O'Shea Book Club and thought it was a wonderful idea. It's currently available in Dublin and Bray, hopefully it will be extended to other stores too.

For €80, you get to sit down with over tea/coffee and have a chat with a personal shopper who will suggest new reads for you based on your interests. You will then be able to choose €60 worth of books to take home, plus you'll be given a moleskine notebook and tote bag. This is such a wonderful idea, it's a great gift for someone who has everything! You can order on their website: Dubray Personal Shopper Voucher.

A Book Box Club Subscription

For readers in the U.S, there are many options for bookish subscription boxes. On this side of the pond, it's a little harder to find something similar. Book Box Club are based in the UK and they offer a monthly subscription box based around a different theme, featuring a new Young Adult release and a box full of goodies. There's also access to an exclusive online group, and a chat with the authors. I've yet to find an adult equivalent, but a 3 month subscription would make a YA reader very happy.



If there's anything else you've seen that would make a great gift for a book lover, please do let me know in the comments, or if you know of any other places that do bookish candles or quirky bookmarks.