Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: The Dead Summer by Helen Moorhouse (Paperback)

Hey guys - I've mentioned this before, but I have been in love with reading since (according to d'Mammy) I was about 3 years old. I devoured books as a child and still do - but I find myself going through phases lately. I haven't been able to concentrate of late, but last night I picked this book up at 11pm and could not put it down. I read it until 3am and then finished it today - it's "The Dead Summer" by Helen Moorhouse.


This is Laois-born Helen's first novel, and this paperback version was released earlier this year. I'd never heard of it, I haven't checked any book recommendations in a long time. I was browsing the book section in Tesco about a month ago with a bottle of wine in one hand, a bag of sweet chilli crisps in the other, fully intending to add another Mills & Boon to my collection. Feeling very let down by the selection of "Sheik's Bride" or "His Reluctant Mistress" titles (ick), I took a look through the fiction section. This one caught my eye - here's the spiel from the back cover:

Leaving behind a broken marriage and a city life she no longer wants to lead, Martha Armstrong takes her baby daughter to start again in the beautiful English countryside. Living in a tranquil cottage in the heat of a perfect summer, it seems that all her wishes have come true.

Until the noises start.

Plagued by mysterious footsteps, scratchings, and crying in the night, Martha is at first unnerved and then terrified. What is happening to her idyllic existence? Is it all her imagination or is someone persecuting her?

Little does Martha know but the cottage has witnessed terrible hatred, fear and pain in the past, when two young Irish sisters lived in it. The fate of these girls and the baby born there now casts a dark shadow over Martha and her daughter.

Martha begins to unravel the story of the cottage's past, and uncover the terrifying secret that still haunts it. But can she discover the truth in time to keep herself and her little girl safe from the evil that threatens them?

To be honest, I was expecting a typical spooky "she closed the door and suddenly, BOO!" story, but I wanted to read something different after a solid year of "she looked at him with lust in her eyes and his pants tightened" and it was only €5.95 so I took the chance. I'm SO glad I did - this is a little gem. The characters are so well-developed - even down to Gabriel, and that's saying something, as he only appears half way through the novel. 

Martha is a young mum, recently divorced, who leaves the big city behind to follow her dream of writing a storybook for children. She thinks that Hawthorn Cottage is the perfect place to start her new life - sure, her new landlord is a little pushy and brutish, and the townsfolk seem to be holding something back from Martha, but that's nothing to worry about, right? And the noises - well, houses settle, don't they? Mice scratch?

This book is interspersed with letters written by one of the sisters that lived in the cottage in the 1950's. As we read these letters, it becomes glaringly obvious who the writer is - but it doesn't ruin the ending. If anything, it makes you want to read quicker to find out how the writer ended up where and how she did. Helen gives us no hint as to what is going to happen right up to the last few chapters, and that's refreshing. There's nothing I hate more than figuring out an ending with a half a book to go. With this book, I was devouring the chapters to find out the fate of the two sisters equally as much as I wanted to find out what Martha would do. 

One of the characters in this book is one of the most horrible, evil characters I've come across in a novel in a long time - the things she did actually made me bawl crying, and it was for this reason I found the book hard to read in places - I wanted desperately to find out what happened, but I didn't want to read any more of the terrible things this person did. I didn't find the book "bone-chillingly scary" or "genuinely terrifying" as some have - I did however find it disturbing, upsetting, and very, very sad in places. I felt heartbroken for the poor victim and the unimaginable cruelty that befell him at the hands of this evil person - and yes, as I mentioned above, I did have a little cry. Okay, I cried more than once (dont' let that put you off though, I cry at ads).

I didn't plan to buy this book, but it was definitely worthy of a read and it's definitely one I'd recommend if ghost stories or thrillers are your sort of thing. Helen has a fantastic writing style, very descriptive and imaginative without using try-too-hard language (no danger of that on this blog, that's for sure). One of the most effective scenes is so simply written - the main character, on her own, watching repeats of Desperate Housewives, tired, but afraid to go to bed. I could almost feel her fear hopping off the page when I was reading, and it takes a strong writer to convey that sort of emotion without the usual "heart-thumping, mind-racing" kind of writing.

All in all it was a brilliant debut novel - worth a read, also, is the included three-page extract from Helen's next novel, "The Dark Water". It's a follow-up to this book, featuring some of  the same characters, and I can't wait to read it and see what happens in their lives! It's due to be published later this year.

For now, though, "The Dead Summer" gets 5/5 stars from me!

S xx

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NYX Sky Pink Lipstick - MAC Angel Dupe?

I've read online that NYX Sky Pink lipstick is a supposed dupe for MAC Angel, albeit with a slightly different finish. I don't own MAC Angel, so I can't compare the two, but here's a look at Sky Pink.

This is my first NYX product, and I really like it - I will definitely be buying more from the brand in the future. I got this particular lipstick on eBay, but you can find NYX products online at beautyemporium.ieflair.ie and cherryculture.com. Here's a look:

[Source]: ebay.co.uk

Here's my pic:


And swatches - all in the one pic:


It's a really creamy formula, so it doesn't last long on the lips - it's really pretty though. I'm very pale and surprisingly, it doesn't make me look washed out or dead. Is it similar to MAC Angel? I've no idea. You decide!

For the record, I do think that dupes in general are great - it's the fake cosmetics that I have a problem with. I love the thrill of finding a polish or lipstick dupe - the Essence/Deborah Lippmann ones for example. That's all fine with me - as long as a company doesn't go all-out to copy something else (Aldi & Moroccanoil - still not sure how I feel about that one to be honest, as much as I'd like to try it if I saw it, I'm not sure I'd pick it up on the basis that they could have changed the labelling a bit more). 

What do you think? Do you own any NYX products? Do you think this could be a dupe for Angel? Let me know!

S xx

EDIT: This is the seller I bought mine from  - HERE - it was an Irish seller, and they didn't charge postage. It cost approx. €5.75 and they have a range of lipstick shades in stock. It arrived in just under a week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NOTD: I'll have the bisque.

bisque/bisk/

Noun:
  1. A rich, creamy soup typically made with shellfish, esp. lobster.
  2. An extra turn, point, or stroke allowed to a weaker player in croquet or court tennis.
  3. Fired unglazed pottery.
Adjective:
Light brown in color.
Synonyms:
bisk - biscuit

Or, none of the above. Feast your eyes on this beauty.


The bottle is possibly the most Chavvy thing I've ever seen in my life (well, since the Daniella Westbrook Burberry baby "episode") and it's really, horribly hard to apply, but I LOVE IT. This came from ebay, as all the best things do - I got it HERE and it arrived reasonably quickly. I was a bit disappointed with that horrible glue smudge there on the lid, but the polish is lovely - as with all big glitters or shapes though, this is one of those polishes that you could probably spend a good five minutes getting right on one nail. You have to move the stars and hearts off the brush and swirl them around your nail - but when it dries, it's lovely. I wore this on one nail today with a base coat of "Sexy Divide" by Essie - another beaut. Have a look at the two of them, just chillin' in the bizarre March sun:


I got the Essie in a recent order from beautyemporium.ie - I picked up a few other bits, which I'll blog about in a while when I've used them enough to form a decent opinion on them. The Beauty Emporium site is being updated at the minute, so make sure to check back if you can't find what you're looking for now!

Another quick look at the Bisque in the sun - it's just gorgeous:


Instead of the usual ring finger accent nail, I used my middle finger - basically, because I had managed to smudge it, repaint it, smudge it, repaint it, and smudge it again. So I thought that this would make a pretty cover up - see what you think.


It took ages to dry and was pretty hard to work with, but all in all it's a really pretty polish and if you've got some time to kill, it would work well with pretty much any colour.

Have you picked up any obscure polishes? 

S xx

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Night Song #18

Ooh wow, I haven't done one of these since January?? Where did those few months go??!! Huge slap on the wrist for that one, because the SNS is one of my favourite things to post.

I've been listening to a lot of radio lately - flicking between stations, but usually landing back at Radio Nova because it doesn't repeat chart stuff over and over and over and to my knowledge it's never had that horrible Gotye song that the OH has now taken to tormenting me with. The little one is now even doing it, in Aldi today he told me he had a secret, and when I bent down he shouted "SOMBODEEEEEEEEE" into my ear. Both thought it was hilarious. It wasn't.

Anyway, I ramble. Nova is probably my favourite radio station because it plays my favourite kind of music - I heard this band on there today & instantly thought of their new song. Tonight's SNS is.................drum roll please..............

Lullaby by Nickelback.



A lot of people think that Nickelback are just peddlers of smut - well, while I agree that some of their lyrics are... questionable, I do love them and they're one of my favourite bands. Their last two albums are favourites of mine, smut or not. Others think that they're not a 'real' rock band - well in my humble opinion, they are. So suck that, cheers. Let's see your band.

This song definitely isn't smut, it's one of my favourites off the recent Here and Now album (one of the few albums I've ever bought the minute it's been released). Have a listen, see what you think, and HOLY HELL how good does Chad Kroeger look with short hair?! Drooling doesn't even cover it. See how I held that back right until the end? Took some willpower, believe me.

Enjoy!

S xx

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Rockalily Love You!

Heya, today I'm sharing lipstick love. If you haven't heard of Rockalily, prepare to want to learn a whole lot more.

http://www.rockalily.com
A little while back, I purchased a gorgeous Rockalily lipstick from the lovely ReeRee Rockette's website - after reading the "Who is ReeRee Rockette" section on her site, I knew I'd found the woman who had the perfect red lipstick for me.

I haven't got the most pearly-white gnashers in the world - they're not grossly stained or anything, but they're not... Ross white, and I'm always a bit conscious of wearing red coloured lipsticks for that reason - most of them make my teeth look all kinds of yellow and it's GROSS.

On the site, ReeRee states this as one of her reasons for creating her own lipstick - her lack of luck in finding a nice blue-based red lippie that suited her style and made her feel... well, like red lipstick's supposed to make you feel. Sexy, confident, feminine - strong.
The shade I chose was called Rockette Red - have a goo:





Ignore the shite application, isn't the colour GORGEOUS?!! I did have a hairy-armed blogger swatch for ye but I thought you'd be better off having a look at how it looks on. It's hard to find a shade that's flattering with my colouring, but this one's lovely. Also, lads, this stuff does not budge for hours (two hours after a good scrub and it's still visible on aforementioned hairy arm) - so if you're anyway cack-handed like moi, take your time & put it on with a decent lip brush. Makes an awful difference, I promise! 

Rockalily lipstick is available in a number of different shades, and this one was priced at £14.50 - worth every penny. Get over to the site HERE if you want to have a look at all the shades an purchase one for yourself!

Also, the lovely Sera is running a giveaway over at her blog, The Agoraphobic Fashionista at the minute. The winner will receive two lovely prizes, one of which is a Rockalily lipstick of their choice. Get over there and have a go! You can enter HERE

Have you ever tried Rockalily lipstick? Or have you found your HG red somewhere else? 

S xx