Friday, April 8, 2016

Books I Read in March

Not Sponsored or paid, ARCs from Netgalley featured. 

Hi!

The beginning of March was slow for me, reading wise, but I found my mojo again towards the middle of the month and got through 12 books. As always, full reviews are posted on Goodreads and you can find those by going to my Books 2016 page and clicking on any book cover.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

There was one pick this month:


Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard
A famous cult leader has gone missing in the middle East - several people saw him die, but his body cannot be found - leading people to presume he's still alive. One by one, his followers are being killed off in gruesome ways in an attempt to lure him out. Oh, and the leader is Jesus Christ.
Interesting, great idea, but not my thing, didn't enjoy it.

Review Copies
Anyone can join Netgalley and request books to review. 



The Good Mother by A.L. Bird - Published April 4th
Susan wakes up and has no idea where she is - she has been abducted, and soon realises that her Captor, a man she finds oddly familiar, has also abducted her teenage daughter Cara and is keeping her in the room next door. But what does he want with Susan and Cara? Can they work together to get out? Promising but a huge let down for me, it tried too hard to shock and the last few chapters were messy.

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal - Expected Publication June 6th
Leon is almost nine years old. He has the most perfect baby brother in the whole world, Jake. He looks after Jake because their Mum isn't able to, but when the boys are sent to live with a nice lady with fuzzy red hair, Maureen, a new family want to take Jake. They don't want Leon because he isn't white. Leon is determined to get his brother back - sometimes taking his anger and frustration out on those around him - and meanwhile meets some people who make him remember that everything isn't so bad. 

I had to put this book down halfway through because I was sobbing - full on snotty sobbing. It was so, so emotional. At one point, the words 'baby dinners' made me weep. I highly recommend it - it's set in England in the late 70s/early 80s, against a backdrop of the Royal Wedding, racial tension and social issues. A fantastic debut. 

Library
I have a separate post coming about libraries and the services offered, but for now - here are the books I borrowed from the library in March.


Fallen by Lia Mills
Set in Dublin during Easter week 1916, this is the fictional account of how the Rising and the events leading up to and after it affect one Dublin girl and her twin brother. I enjoyed the book, it gave me a good idea of how the Rising must have been for ordinary everyday citizens.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Now a film starring Saoirse Ronan (pronounced seer-sha), this is the story of Eilis Lacey (pronounced eye-lish), a young girl from Enniscorthy in Wexford and her emigration to America in the 1950s. It follows her through her first job, her first love in America, and a tough decision. I enjoyed the setting, but I didn't like Eilis as a main character, I found her dull and overall the book bored me, unfortunately.

Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas
Six young graduates answer an ad in a newspaper looking for "Bright Young Things" for a secret project. They go for an audition then wake up on an island, with no idea of how they got there or what's going on. While the plot is alright, the best part of this 1999 novel for me were the multiple pop culture references. The author describes it as a "time capsule" and I loved it, references to things that were popular at the time had me grinning ("She's a Joey, but she wishes she were a Jen" - YESSSS!!).

Young Adult
I'm a big fan of Young Adult (YA) novels, I don't think you're ever too old to stop reading them. I read two this month.


The Storm (The Rain #2) by Virginia Bergin
In The Rain, teenager Ruby Morris was caught up in a pretty big crisis, torrential rain that makes people destroy themselves. I loved it because Ruby was gloriously normal and worried about mundane things that we don't usually seen teen heroines worry about. In this sequel, it's still raining on and off, and Ruby is searching for some people. I didn't like this as much - I felt like it was a bit muddled and tried to go a few different directions instead of just picking one and sticking with it. I also didn't like the direction Ruby's character went in. But I'd recommend the first book!

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Willowdean Dumplin' Dickson is a teenager who works part time at a fast food place with a very hot boy named Bo. Her mother is in charge of the annual Beauty Pageant, and is disappointed that Willowdean is overweight. Willowdean decides to call her mother's bluff and enter the Pageant, bringing a group of misfit friends with her. This was sold as a body positive empowering book - sadly I didn't feel that. I felt that Willowdean was incredibly insecure, selfish, and mean about others. It's a shame, because there aren't many YA books with overweight characters where it's not an issue - but throw in an unlikely love triangle and it wasn't enough to hold my interest. I finished it, but only just.

Non-Fiction


Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
When Scottish actor Alan Cumming got the chance to participate in Geneology show Who Do You Think You Are?, he thought it would be a great opportunity to solve a family mystery on his mother's side. Instead, his strained relationship with his father became the focus as some previously uknown information was shared. Part memoir, part mystery, this read like a novel and is definitely one of the better memoirs I've read. Highly recommeded. I'm also blaming Alan for my renewed interest in finding out about past generations of my family!

Fiction


Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Bee's mother, Bernadette, has gone missing days before they were due to go on a family trip to Antarctica. Through the medium of email and letters, Bee tries to piece together her mothers life to try and find out what happened. This is darkly comic in parts, I loved the parts with the snobbish school mothers. However, about 2/3 of the way through I lost interest and didn't really buy the conclusion.

The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
Clara and her sister Marin were brought to Aunt Verity as babies - Clara by a stork, Marin inside a conch shell. As the girls grow, it becomes apparent that Marin is slowly becoming a mermaid and needs to be returned to the sea. Aunt Verity is bound to her mountain home by a curse, so it's up to Clara and her childhood friend O'Neill to get Marin to safety. Predictably, things don't go as smoothly as that - there's a very fantasy carnival kind of atmosphere to this. It was just okay for me, parts of it felt like a lesson in morality.

The Green Road by Anne Enright
A mother in rural Co. Clare has requested that her four children join her at the family home for one last Christmas before she sells the house. They all have their own issues and stories, and we get to know them before the Christmas meeting. I loved this, really enjoyable and I'll definitely read Anne's other works.

So that's it - quite a 'meh' reading month, but three fantastic reads (Alan Cumming, Anne Enright and Kit de Waal). Have you read anything interesting lately? I'm always on the lookout for suggestions, but I can feel myself getting into a kind of YA mood so if you've read any interesting Young Adult novels lately, please let me know.






Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: Real Techniques Deep Cleansing Gel

Not sponsored or paid, no PR samples featured

Hi!

Around Christmas time, I spotted this in my local chemist. At nearly €10 it wasn't the cheapest of impulse buys, but I bought it regardless just so I could see if it could live up to my beloved Holy Grail brush cleaner [Daiso].



The ingredients are mostly water, fragrance, foaming agents, preservatives, and parabens. It essentially has the same ingredients as cheap shampoo. It doesn't contain alcohol. It claims to "Improve Brush Performance" - well that's the least you'd expect from a clean brush, of course a clean brush will perform better than a dirty one?!

I found the texture really weird - like a thick jelly rather than a gel, it was actually quite hard to get out of the bottle - it sucked itself back in unelss I squeezed it really hard. It also has a strange sweet smell. I tried it on a Jessup kabuki brush and it didn't shift any of the foundation off it. I tried it again with a Blank Canvas brush - same thing. So I tried it with a Real Techniques brush.


Surprisingly, it worked on the RT brush.


Overall

This isn't what it says it is. There's a video explaining how to use it [here] and the girls say that it's for a deep clean, not a spot clean - I'd argue the opposite. I think it works as a spot clean on brushes that have only been used once or twice. This won't shift cream or liquid foundation, nor liquid eyeliner. Really disappointing, not a patch on Daiso, and not worth the money. It doesn't do what it claims to do - Avoid.