Monday, March 31, 2014

An Ode to Moo Goo

Not Sponsored or Paid | Not an Advertisement

Hi!

Moo Goo skincare is a brand I'd seen in my local chemist but never bothered with. When I discovered that one of my boys had incredibly sensitive skin however, Moo Goo was the name that kept cropping up whenever I asked for advice on what to use when he had a flare up.

I purchased the Irritable Skin Balm a few months ago and could not have been happier with the results.


I started to use it every day on Edward and over time it got rid of all the hard patches on his face and ears that would be left behind after a flare-up like this one:



His skin is perfect now, thankfully. I've also barely made a dent in the cream, so it was well worth the €15 I paid for it.

Our next problem to try and tackle was his cradle cap - I had tried coconut oil, olive oil, baby oil, nit combs, baby brushes, dentinox (gave him a rash), baby shampoo (gave him a rash) - you name it, I tried it. I was getting fed up of him having a big greasy looking head and still suffering from the cradle cap. In the end I decided to e-mail Moo Goo and ask if there was anything suitable in their range given the success I'd had with the skin balm. Paul very, very kindly sent me out a range of samples and recommended their Scalp Cream.



You need to use it on wet hair for the first time, then follow up with regular applications as necessary. Here's a look at Edward's scalp before.




And after just 2 days of using the scalp cream:




The difference is incredible. One of my favourite things about it was that it didn't leave his head all greasy looking, it was easy to rub in and his hair looked normal the next day. It did smell a tiny bit like dog shampoo, but I'm assuming that's down to the tea tree in it. I immediately went to the chemist to buy a full size only to be told they didn't have it in stock (rectified now, hopefully), so I headed over to www.moogoo.ie and ordered it direct from the website. Including delivery it came to around €17. It arrived the next day in the cutest packaging ever -


My order again included some lovely mini samples, including the aforementioned skin balm, shampoo, conditioner, body wash - I've been using the shampoo and the junior bubble bath on the boys and will be buying full sizes. My order also included a lovely tingling honey lip balm, which is gorgeous.


Here's a look at some of the packaging on the scalp cream, so you can check out the ingredients.



I've found a new favourite in Moo Goo - the brand is just so friendly, warm, and comes across really well. Their full range of products is amazing - it includes an "Udder Cream" Moisturizer, Nappy Balm - even a Self Tanner! All ingredients used are natural and anything that goes near your mouth is edible. Not that I'd recommend lashing into a lip balm, but it's always nice to know that whatever you're ingesting isn't harmful.

Go have a look at their website, it's a real treat and full of really interesting information.

A gorgeous brand, one that works well, and one that will be a firm favourite in our house from now on. I wasn't asked to review products or write a post, I didn't approach the company as a blogger - just as a Mam who wanted to help her child. I was afforded time, informative & friendly responses, and treated with respect and generosity as a customer. That's how you do customer service, guys. Fantastic.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Max Factor Facefinity Foundation in Warm Almond

Hi!

I do not do foundation reviews, blusher reviews, eyeshadow reviews - mainly because I'm really bad at them and I can never take photographs of my face that show the product doing what it's supposed to do. I'm only doing this because I couldn't find swatches of it on pale skin anywhere. I wanted to review it but I hate when people do reviews but don't show swatches, so I said I'd show you how it looks on someone quite pale and freckly.

I picked the shade "Warm Almond" because everything else on the stand had the word "beige" in it and I'm afraid of beige. I'm usually the lightest shade or second lightest in most brands, so to not have an "ivory" or "nude" put the fear of god into me and I had to rely on chemist lighting. Apparently there's a "light ivory" shade but I couldn't find it!


It claims to be a 3-in-1 product - primer, concealer and foundation. It also has SPF 20, which is always a good thing. As you can see I've used it a few times already, despite picking the wrong shade.

If you're unsure as to what foundation shades to buy in other brands, then you need to get over to www.findation.com. You can pick a few shades of foundation you know suit you, and it'll throw out loads of potential matches for you from other brands.

There are six shades available:




I thought the best way to show the coverage was to make a half-and-half Frankenstein from a before and after pic.


They didn't line up exactly, but it gave me a laugh! Here's a closer look.


I really like it, even thought it might be a smidgen too dark for me. It gives really good coverage and isn't at all cakey. I paid €14.99 for mine in a local chemist.

I don't think I'll be doing another foundation review, I don't know how others do them on a weekly basis!




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Clarks Magic Steps

Hi!

As with last week, I want to try and keep Throwback Thursday posts up, and have a little nostalgia session every week. It's good for the soul, and it's great for a blast of the warm & fuzzies. Either that or it'll leave you in a heap on the kitchen floor rocking back and forth humming "I'm so old, I'm so old, I'm so old", but we'll hope for the former.

This week - something I'll bet lots of you wanted. Something I ached for, but never got. Something I was sure would turn me into a Princess and lead me on great adventures. Something I may have been so jealous of that I once tried to prise my friend's ones open. Maybe.




The ad is SO eighties, isn't it? It's like a cross between Labyrinth, Return to Oz, and Sex and the City.  I adored the idea of Clarks Magic Steps shoes and begged for them, but was instead given the usual pair of Dubarrys because they were sensible and would last until the next school year. But who wants sensible? I wanted shoes with magical things in the soles!! Shoes that came with KEYS!!


In all actuality I've no idea what was even on the bottom of the shoes - some kind of scene? I know that I went to my friend's house and she had some under her bed - while she was looking for a tape for her Mother Goose light (remember them?!) I was looking for something to try and prise the bottom of her precious black patent shoes open. As you do.

I was a marketer's dream even at the age of 8.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NOTD: Catrice Crushed Crystals: Call Me Princess

Hi!

Catrice & Essence have recently revamped their product lines, and this is one of the new items that caught my eye.

Jumping on the liquid sand/sand style/textured polish bandwagon, Catrice have come up with a range of sand style polishes called "Crushed Crystals". They cost €3.69 each (for 10ml) which is quite expensive for Catrice but in general it's not dear for a nail polish when you consider the price of some of the other brands of textured polishes.


It's been so, so long since Catrice have had any interesting polish so I was excited to try this! It applied evenly in two coats, no topcoat... *whispers* no basecoat either, because I forgot.

The polish is a salmon pink with gold flecks. The texture is very, very fine - probably the finest "sand" polish I've tried. It's not bumpy or too rough.

Stacking Midi Rings €1.50 for set of three, Penneys
The flecks look silver here but I promise they're a bright gold.


Without flash, inside:


It's lovely, it lasted 4 days with no topcoat and only minor tipwear. I think I'll definitely use it a lot over the summer, despite it being a bit Disney Princess-ish.


If I used tan I imagine it would look fanastic with it!



Monday, March 24, 2014

Cloud Vitamin A Cream

***Disclosure: Product provided free of charge. Review & Opinions 100% mine.***


Hi!

When the lovely people at Cloud contacted me to see if I'd like to try one of their products, I accepted. Mainly because I really, really love moisturisers, especially ones with sunscreen in. I'd just finished my beloved Elave so this came at just the right time.

Cloud focus on vitamins. Their range of creams are the results of years of testing and consultations with patients and lab testing. They currently offer a Vitamin B3 cream, a Milk Thistle cream for pigmentation, and this one - Vitamin A cream.


Cloud refer to Vitamin A as "Nature's Sun Protection". Learning about the benefits of various vitamins & minerals was always one of my least favourite parts of Home Ec class at school, but years later I find myself gaining an interest in the various benefits and sources. Vitamin A is also recommended as a treatment for stretch marks - as Cloud themselves note, nothing can get rid of stretch marks but Vitamin A can greatly improve the appearance of them over time by stimulating the production of collagen type 1. The skin naturally converts Retinol to retinoic acid, which increases cellular rejuvenation & decreases pore size to create softer, soother skin - therefore it's a major ingredients in a lot of skin care products.

One thing I love about the packaging - it's a pump. I absolutely applaud Cloud for choosing a pump, it's so handy and clean.


I've been using it for about a month now, about this much a day:


Holy shit, I have the hand of a crone. A palm reader would have a field day...

It smells quite clinical, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. It's not scented with any artificial flowery rubbish, which is great - it's actually a similar smell to the Elave daily moisturiser with SPF that I was using previously. There are some details on the packaging worth a mention:


Firstly, 5% is donated to providing clean drinking water. For who? I don't know. I'll update the post when I find out. Secondly, it's paraben free, fragrance free, preservative free, and not tested on animals. Thirdly, it claims to protect the skin from pollution. I can't find any actual statistics that prove Retinyl Palmitate protects against 93% more of the sun's power than conventional sunscreen, but I wouldn't use any sunscreen on a daily basis so I find this a handy way to get a bit of protection on my face. Any percentage of protection is better than none, right? Remember, people - just because we may not have sunny weather doesn't mean you don't need sun protection. You ALWAYS need sun protection. If your moisturizer or foundation doesn't have an SPF, you really need to use something to protect yourself. Leathery handbag isn't a good look.

On to the ingredients list:


It's basically just a combination of water, vitamin A in a gentle form - the Retinyl Palmitate is a combination of retinol & palmitic acid, it has been found in studies to be an effective antioxidant. It's often used in sunscreens because it's gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin, yet still has antioxidant protection & helps ward off UV damage. The rest of the ingredients are just petroleum jelly, an emulsifier, surfacant, and antiseptic.

As I mentioned, I've been using it for about a month now and I love a good antiseptic-smelling product, it's so much more appealing to me than a fake scent. I can't say I've noticed any great difference in my skin but then again, who would notice a difference with a product designed to protect the skin? It's thick, and spreads well, so you don't need a lot of it. Two pumps is enough to cover my ample mug. I've barely used up any of the 30ml over the past 30/31 days, so it's definitely great value at $48 (€35).

Would I repurchase? I'm not entirely sure. I'd probably go for the Elave first as it's more locally available to me, but I'd definitely use the Cloud again.

Lovely product.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #1: Kristy's Great Idea


Hi!

Recently I did a little excitement wee dance when the first 20 Babysitters Club books made their way to my Kobo. I've been digging around the internet for years looking for them, and safe to say with the aid of a few bookfinding sites, my day - well folks, it's been made.

The Babysitters Club was a series of books originally written by Ann M. Martin that focused on a group of young friends who set up a babysitting club in their Connecticut neighbourhood. This was so exciting to me because we have family friends in Connecticut, and also because I had an unhealthy obsession with all things American and the fact that there may have been the slightest connection there was the coolest thing ever.

#1: Kristy's Great Idea (Published August 1986)
The books are written from the POV of the person in the title, so this one's from Kristy. We learn that she is 12, she likes sports and thinks she's really good at them, that boys are yuck, and that her parents are divorced. She has a little brother (David Michael, 6) and two older brothers (Sam, 14 and Charlie, 16). Kristy's mother is having trouble finding a babysitter for David Michael despite the fact that she has three older children and a partner (Watson), so Kristy decides to enlist her friends and start a Babysitting Club. Her friends are Mary Anne Spier (based on Ann M. Martin herself), who lives with her uber strict father (her mother died of cancer when she was young), Claudia Kishi, who is the token ethnic person and lives with her parents, her totes adorbs (yeah I said it) Grandmother Mimi, and her genius sister Janine (more about her in a minute) and Stacey McGill, who recently moved to Stoneybrook from New York City and has all the glamour one would expect from someone who a) isn't a tomboy, and b) doesn't have a really strict Dad. Stacey can stay up until 10pm on the weekends and has caught cabs on her own. She also has a perm and is super thin. Claudia is really arty, cool and unique despite an obvious hoarding/junk food addiction, and is wearing this outfit at the beginning of the story.

All images credits can be found on Polyvore

Stacey is also pretty slick when it comes to fashion. The first time Kristy meets her, she's wearing this. Well actually, not exactly this, because I couldn't find a pink sweatshirt with sequins AND a parrot on it, so I gave her a brooch instead.

[Source]

There's an almost obvious divide between the girls - Claudia & Stacey on the cool, boy-obsessed side, and Kristy & Mary Anne on the young, just-quit-playing-with-dolls side. Stacey won't accept any of the junk food Claudia inexplicably hides around her room which must mean she's on a diet, right? Wrong. She's actually diabetic but the whole thing is concealed because it's so awkward for her being a diabetic that her entire family had to move. Or something. The diet is mentioned to the point where I want to move just to get away from it, even when Kristy's horny brother Sam meets "foxy chick" Stacey for the first time, he refers to her as "the one on the diet". Here's Kristy's take on the whole mutual attraction between Sam & Stacey: "Most High School boys wouldn't be caught dead with a lowly junior high girl - unless the girl was a knockout." Luckily, Stacey isn't hideous and therefore is free to enjoy an hour of Sam being a total dick to his little brother in order to impress Stacey. Score, dude.

Back to the enigma that is Janine Kishi - she's 15, she's supposed to be a genius, and she's a complete grammar Nazi. To the point where she's creepily hanging around outside Claudia's room waiting to correct her friends. She chastises Kristy for using the word "hopefully" wrong and later is found just standing there, puzzled over whether or not there should be an apostrophe in the words "Babysitters Club". Janine. GET A LIFE. Wear some jazz shoes or something. Speaking of jazz shoes...

[Source]
[Source]



In fairness, Kristy is a bit of a bitch. Her mother's boyfriend Watson is lovely, and brings home chinese food for them. Kristy refuses to eat it and sits eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich in rebellion. A sandwich that she has cut into the shape of a snowman. Very mature, Kristy. Please mind my children.

She also has a seriously smart mouth - she asks Watson who's minding his kids while he's bringing chinese food over, and when David Michael mentions a G.I. Joe toy and Watson says his son Andrew isn't into them, Kristy responds with "Oh, all the boys play with them. You just don't know because you're not around. And I bet Karen has a Rainbow Brite too, do you know what that is?." BIIITTCH!!

Kristy's first babysitting assignment doesn't go to plan - she takes a call to sit for twins, Pinky and Buffy (see where this is going?) but oh! Hilarity! They are dogs, they run away for a few minutes and then she puts them back inside and all is okay. Mary Anne sits for Watson's children, Karen and Andrew, who are nice enough but have an irrational fear of the woman next door. They've nicknamed her Morbidda Destiny, a name that I would rob in later years at Halloween. They also have an obese cat named Boo-Boo, who bites. Nice.

Watson and Edie (Kristy's mother) make Kristy wear a dress and they all sit down to fondue (well this IS the 80s) and announce their plans to get engaged. Kristy is a bit of a cow about it but soon sees the error of her ways after dinner. Not really sure why, but anyway. During dinner, Watson "came up with a rule that if your bread fell off your fork and landed in the cheese, you had to kiss the person on your right." Dafuq, Watson? You're sitting beside a TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRL. Naturally, Kristy's bread falls off and she gives Watson a peck on the cheek to the not-at-all-creepy soundtrack of the two Brewer children chanting "Kiss Daddy! Kiss Daddy!". Jesus.

So - the babysitting is off to a great start, we've established Claudia and Stacey are into fashion, Kristy is a tomboy, and Mary Anne has cried about nine times for many varying reasons including "my Dad won't let me spend $3 on pizza". Watson & Edie are sorted, so that just leaves the issue of Stacey's diabetes, which she's kinda forced into revealing at a sleepover because Kristy just can't mind her own goddamn business and had earlier accused Stacey and her mother of keeping secrets. She just met you Kristy, you nosy bitch. Everything is perfect because Kristy has a cousin with diabetes and knows all about it. Of course she does.

QOTD: [Kristy while minding Pinky & Buffy]: "You really haven't lived until a dog has stepped on your face."





Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Do Lidl care about Irish parents? Seemingly Not.

Hi!

Bit of a serious baby-related issue today instead of the usual weekly "Twin Essentials" post. I've often sung the praises of Lidl both online and in real life. I tested their nappies against other budget brands and they came out on top. I'm a huge fan of their baby wipes, their dog food (not me personally, but you know what I mean), their soft drinks. I've waxed lyrical about their CC cream, their Suddenly perfume & candles, their dark chocolate, peppermint teas, pastries from the bakery, fresh fish, chicken wings, frozen macarons - I've always loved the fact that I can get my Low Low and Dairygold in Lidl as well as all my favourites from their ranges. I've promoted their most recent baby event here, on facebook, on twitter, in reality, and I've been first in the queue to purchase baby equipment from said baby event.

Unfortunately I probably won't bother with them any more after recent events.

Earlier this year, the issue of not having enough twin trolleys (or any in some cases) in various stores was once again raised when I posted a picture online of one of my babies strapped into a baby seat while the other was propped up with my jacket. Up until then I'd never come across the issue but apparently lots of multiple parents had already complained due to the lack of double baby trolleys.

This is the picture. This was taken in Lidl Cavan. There were no twin trolleys, but there were a few of this type, which would be suitable for a parent with a baby and a slightly older child.


My boys weren't even 5 months old at that stage and Darren could just about sit up so needless to say he got incredibly pissed off after about 10 minutes sitting there and I had to carry him while pushing Edward. That, I could cope with occasionally. I don't know how a parent with 3 or 4 month old twins would cope - they just couldn't go into the shop without help.

In Longford, we are not even lucky enough to have one with a baby seat. NOT ONE. This doesn't just have an effect on parents of twins - this means that parents with a small baby sitting in a fixed car seat can not bring that child into Lidl in Longford unless they can sit up on their own, therefore alienating the entire under 7mth bracket.

I went in last Friday and here's what I had to do in order to bring both boys with me.


Again Darren is the one who can sit up a little better so he was stuffed into the little seating tray (with no restraints), where I had to tie him in place with my cardigan, stuff a jacket down the side so he wouldn't fall over, and put Edward into the trolley in his carseat while trying to make sure nothing fell on top of him.

I won't be in Lidl with the boys again - no matter how much I like the products. Tesco have many, many twin trolleys and baby trolleys. As do Dunnes. And Super Valu. We have other options, we don't have to try and make an effort anymore to spend money with a company who obviously place no value in parents of young children.

This begs the question - why bother with the baby events in the first place? There are literally NO baby seats on trolleys in the Longford branch. None. There's a whole row of those ones you clip the car seat on to - but if you don't have an infant carrier or a seat that's easily removable then these are of no addition to you. Why not get rid of a few of those and replace them with baby trolleys?

I set up a petition a while ago to try and show Lidl & Aldi (they're another lot who don't provide twin trolleys at all branches but the Longford branch does have a few baby seats) how much of an issue this is - but everyone who e-mailed them got the same generic response.

"Dear Ms. Leavy

We have forwarded your suggestion for twin trolleys to the Sales Operations Manager for your area. It is only on receipt of customer feedback that we are able to maintain and improve the standard of facilities offered to our customers.

All customer suggestions are given consideration by the relevant personnel. As a discount retailer we must ensure that any customer suggestion we consider implementing allows us to continue to offer our customers competitive prices.

Regards, [name removed] Customer Services Dept"

Sigh.

I'm not affiliated in any way with the Irish Multiple Births Association but I am an active member of their facebook page and have had conversations with many parents who have received the same generic response. I can not speak for the 1,112 members on that page, but a huge percentage of them agree that we need trolleys in order to take our babies with us into the shop. I mean it's all well & good providing "competitive prices" but if I have to spend an extra euro on a pack of nappies or arrange either a helper or babysitter just to go shopping, I have no problem spending that extra euro.

It's not just an extra euro though, is it? Twins go through an enormous amount of nappies, wipes, baby food, sudocrem, baby porridge, rusks, powder - all of which I buy at Lidl. I do 90% of my shopping there - it consists of baby products, food & household items for an older child, two adults, and two pets. On an average week I spend €90 - €100 or thereabouts in Lidl. That's €5,200 on average per year. That's not including special buys. Or Christmas. Or Birthdays. Or other Special Occasions. Or Impulse Buys. That's just ME. One parent. Multiply that by ten. Or a hundred. Or two hundred. Or five hundred.

If just half the multiple parents on one facebook group spent €80 a week in Lidl stopped going, that's a potential loss of €2,080,000.00 per year. Over two million euro not being spent in Lidl because of a bloody trolley. And I can tell you that a lot of parents would spend a hell of a lot more than €80 a week in there.

I'll leave you with some comments from the petition (which you can find & sign here if you so wish, if you are asked for a donation ignore, your signature will still go through: PETITION). There are many, many more on there.


  • Badly needed, so hard to do a decent shop when you can't use a trolley as no trolley for 2 small babies.
  • This needs to be reviewed, it's crazy to think you can't accommodate your customers in this way.
  • I can't shop in your store with my twin daughters without a twin trolley.
  • It's hard enough to get to the shop with twins but even harder when there's only room for one baby in the trolley (or in the case of Longford, no baby at all)
  • I can either only do a small shop at a time or go to another retail outlet when I have both my daughters with me.
  • Signing on behalf of all the parents who just want to get their shopping done but are restricted to certain stores because of the lack of necessary equipment.
  • If you have better facilities for mums they would choose your store before any other.
  • Please provide these twin trolleys. I have been unable to shop at Lidl or Aldi since having my twins.
  • This is so important and always overlooked by retailers - would be a key reason for my choice of supermarket always.
  • It's simple - ye provide trolleys and ye'll get our custom! Thanks in advance!!

Lidl - will you LISTEN to your customers. Please. PLEASE. There isn't much point in having baby events and baby bargains when you're alienating an entire cross-section of parents. You currently have approximately 124 stores in the Republic of Ireland. All you need is 3-4 twin trolleys per store, that's less than 500 trolleys total. Is this really so impossible? Will it really impact your ability to provide competitive prices? Seriously?

So, Lidl - as much as I love you, I think our affair ends here. You carry on providing your "competitive prices", while I, and others who physically cannot bring our children into the store, will continue to spend our money elsewhere. I'm afraid I won't be back until I see a change, my €5,200 a year may not make a huge difference to your bottom line but I am highly doubtful that I will be the only one passing by your door, and I'm sure Dunnes, Super Valu or Tesco will greatly appreciate the extra custom.

**Update 2014*** Lidl in Longford now provide a small number of double trolleys, and as promised, I have returned to shop there. THANK YOU. 





Monday, March 17, 2014

NOTD: St Patrick's Day 2014

***Disclaimer: The Ebalay glitter polish featured in this post was provided for review***

Hi!


Better late than never, right? Half the house is down with a disgusting headcold-type thing, so please excuse the lateness of this years St. Patrick's Day mani. I actually did two - one really simple one last week, and......well, another really simple one today.

First up is a really easy (some may say lazy) way to incorporate some Irishness into your nails without sticking to plain green - for this I used mint (Barry M Mint Green), green glitter (Finger Paints Merry Mistletoe), gold (China Glaze Mingle With Kringle) and a green/white glitter topper (Ebalay Color 12). And no, Ebalay isn't a misprint of eBay - it's from KKcenterHK, and was provided for me a while ago for review.


I chose the glitter topper myself - it's really unusual and has green hex glitter, white hex glitter, white bar glitter, white round glitter, and holo/blue glitter. Here's a LINK to the shade, and a closer look at the polish.


To be honest I wasn't expecting a whole pile from it, but it was really nice and gave great coverage. I didn't have to go digging to get a good variety of glitters on each dab of the brush.


The second look was a bit last-minute and haphazard, but overall it's pretty effective if you're looking at it in real life and not under the scrutiny of a close-up picture. Sigh. Anyway - here it is, blobby shamrocks and hangnails 'n all:


AAGH! Anyway - again, I used Barry M Mint Green as a base, acrylic paint dabs for the blobby prickly shamrocks, and on the ring finger I used an awesome glitter topper from (as far as I'm aware) Ireland's only Indie polish brand to date, Precious Polish called Kiss My Mistletoe from her Christmas 2013 collection. As you can see it completely transformed the base colour into a fuller, brighter green, and I really love it. It's also SUPER sparkly, I have an out-of-focus shot (totally on purpose.......*whistles*) to show you how fab it is:




Anita also makes polish to order, so if you have a shade in your head that you'd love to see in reality - she's your woman.

Wherever you are, I hope you're having a happy St. Patrick's Day.

And remember:

Paddy, not Patty.




Thursday, March 6, 2014

World Book Day 2014 - Recently Read and Childhood Favourites


Hi!

I actually forgot all about World Book Day until my son asked for some old books to do a book swap at school (he picked excellent ones to take home - books by Roald Dahl, David Walliams and a Dog Encylopedia). I was going to do some nail art but I had some already done for another occasion so I decided instead to show you a few of my recent reads (or 2014 reads so far) and talk about a few of my favourite childhood books.


Recently Loved




  • The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood This is the second novel by Alex. Her first novel, The Wicked Girls was one of my favourite reads of 2013. This one was just as good - a group of people who seemingly have nothing in common end up, for various reasons, living in an apartment complex owned by an absolute pig of a landlord. He's lecherous, greedy, mean, and inappropriate. One night, a terrible accident happens and the gang have to decide what they're going to do - oh, and did I mention that one of them is a particularly deranged serial killer? Couldn't put it down. I found myself looking forward to night feeds just so I'd get another chapter in!
  • The Real Mrs. Brown - Brendan O'Carroll, The Authorised Biography by Brian Beacom I wouldn't be the hugest fan of Mrs. Brown or her boys (though I have on occasion almost wet myself laughing at it, but I have to be in particularly silly humour) but I'm a big fan of Brendan O'Carroll. He's a remarkable man who has maintained a positive outlook on life despite being thrown some huge curve balls in his time. He's witty, hard-working, and has had some ingenious ideas. This biography was sweet, it was heartwarming, and it was funny. A really, really nice read.
  • Doctor Sleep - Stephen King One of my favourite things about this was that it prompted me to re-read The Shining before I started it. I'd forgotten how amazing a book it was, and it was brilliant to revisit the world of the Torrances (and indeed Tony). We meet Abra Stone, who also has an amazing gift - and we get to find out what became of young Danny Torrance. A definite must-read!
  • The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen This isn't a new book by any means. I'd read Sarah's book Garden Spells a few years ago and I'd frequently wanted to re-read it, it had a serious Practical Magic vibe to it. Her books all have a somewhat magical quality to them, this one included. Josey lives for romance novels, secret stashes of chocolate and sweets, and has been in love with her mailman from afar for as long as she can remember. One morning she wakes to discover local ex-lady of the night/waitress Della Lee in her closet. Della Lee has escaped a bad relationship and while she's hiding out at Josey's, she helps her to find herself and question what she's doing with her life. It's a really sweet read, it's never going to win an award but you know what? I've read some heinously crap award-winners, so give it a chance if you like your fiction with a healthy dose of magic.

Recently Hated


  • Saving Rachel by John Locke The only reason I bought this was because it was really cheap on the Kobo website and I was sick of converting things I'd bought for Kindle. I wish I'd saved myself the bother of even downloading it - it's absolutely one of the worst "books" I've ever, ever read. The main character is disgusting, a real misogynistic ass. He's cheating on his wife and constantly makes references to how brilliant he is and how clever he is. He refers to the women in his life as if they were pieces of meat with breasts attached. The premise reeled me in - man cheats on wife, wife is kidnapped, man panics and gets involved with criminals - I think John Locke is incredibly good at writing a synopsis. He's a genius at it, because he made this sound like a Harlan Coben or Andrew Gross novel when really - it reads like nothing more than the ramblings of a horny, hyperactive, oversexed pre-pubescent teenage boy obsessed with breasts. Oh no, sorry, not breasts. "Titties". Seriously... I struggled to finish it, even though the chapters were 1-3 pages each of snappy, short dialogue. Awful beyond belief. 
Currently Reading


  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides I'm reading this as part of my 1001 Books Challenge. Honesty Corner - I haven't touched it yet. I'm behind on all my reading challenges, but I will catch up!!
  • If You Lived Here, You'd Be Perfect By Now by Robin Hardwick Essentially a book-by-book pisstake of the first 100 Sweet Valley High books. Not half as entertaining as Kitty's particular brand of actual-laugh-out-loud sarcasm, but still very funny.
  • The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison This is a thriller written from both the perspective of the murderer and victim - we're told at the very beginning that the wife is going to kill her husband, so it's not a spoiler - but it's so mind-numbingly boring and mundane that I'm looking for excuses to put it away. I do want to give it a chance, but I'm struggling with it. Harrison is one of a number of people who have sadly found fame posthumously - she passed away before she could see the success of her work.
  • Carrie by Stephen King Having read The Shining and Doctor Sleep, I got a grá for Mr. King again after many years. He was always my favourite author as a teen, so it's been a hell of a long time since I've read any of his better known works. I'm revisiting Carrie at the moment and loving every minute of it, and I plan to re-read as many of his books as I can over the coming months.
Childhood Favourites

Leaving aside acres of Sweet Valley High books, Malory Towers, St. Claire's and Point Romance, here are 6 of my all-time favourites from my pre-teen years.



  • What Katy Did by Susan M. Coolidge I re-read this a thousand times - Katy was warned by her father not to play on the swing in the shed because it wasn't set up properly. Boisterous Katy defies him, falls off, and ends up temporarily paralyzed. Her beautiful wheelchair-bound cousin comes to visit her and helps her to appreciate what she has in life. In this book they play a game called Kikeri that I've never forgotten - I'm sure it's what we called Murder in the Dark
  • The Faraway Tree Stories by Enid Blyton This series was the ultimate in fantasy reading - imagine a magical tree filled with all kinds of interesting unusual folk. That in itself is a great story, but add in a couple of regular children who befriend them and get to visit the different lands that appear at the top of the tree and you have a series that's magnetic even as an adult. I'll be buying this for my eldest son's next birthday. 
  • The Babysitter by R.L. Stine I loved all the Point Horror books but this one was my favourite - it's basically When a Stranger Calls but much milder on the graphic violence and general ick-ness. Other favourites are April Fools, The Cheerleader, Prom Date.
  • Sam, Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness I'd forgotten all about this book until I stumbled across it again a few years ago. It's just really enchanting - Sam is a little girl who has a cat (bangs) and has a bit of a problem with telling lies, or making up fantastical stories (her father calls them Moonshine). She ends up in serious trouble when a friend is in danger, but she eventually realises that while the truth is best, we all need a little bit of Moonshine in our lives.
  • Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine I pretty much read the entire Goosebumps series, but this is the one that has stayed with me. It's genuinely creepy - Carly Beth wants to scare her friends at Halloween and comes across the scariest, most gross mask she can find. Unfortunately, when she puts it on - it becomes her face. 
  • The Secret Island by Enid Blyton This is one of the first books I remember keeping in my bedside locker to re-read over and over again. A group of children escape to an island and have to basically do a Tom Hanks on it and get inventive to survive - even sneaking back on to the mainland at one point and managing to manoeuver a cow out by boat to get milk! It's absolutely brilliant. 

I'm happy to see my eldest boy reading books - at the moment he's loving The Twits by Roald Dahl, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, and Gangsta Gran by David Walliams.

Read anything good lately?