Friday, March 31, 2017

Book to Movie Adaptations on Netflix (No Spoilers)

Nothing to Disclose, I am a paying member of Netflix

Hi!

I'm not someone who rushes to the cinema when I see a book to movie adaptation - actually, I'm not someone who rushes to the cinema at all (one visit in the last 13 years) - but I do like to catch the movie versions of books I've read on TV or Netflix at some stage.

With that in mind, I thought I'd go through some of the adaptations on Netflix at the moment and compare them to the books - just in time for the weekend so you can choose one or two to watch.

Me Before You


  

Released in 2012, Me Before You is a novel about Louisa Clarke, a young woman who lives with family who are financially dependent on her. She takes a job as a carer in order to bring in more money, and finds herself looking after Will Traynor - a man who was paralysed from the neck down after an accident. Will is bitter, angry, and rude - but Louisa's having none of it, she was sent to do a job and that's exactly what she's going to do. This looks like a light, fluffy book - it's really not, it deals with some huge issues and some darker themes. 

The film version arrived in 2016, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin as the lead characters. It stays fairly true to the book, so if you've read the book first then the film won't bring any huge surprises. It's an enjoyable film, the cast are good and the dialogue is sharp and witty. There are a couple of darker elements in the book that aren't present here, but the movie works well as it is. 

Divergent

  

Divergent by Veronica Roth was released in 2011, the first of a trilogy. It's dystopian fiction, and focuses on teenager Beatrice Prior. In this post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, teenagers must choose a faction when they come of age. There are five to choose from - Amity, Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite and Kandor. There are different qualities associated with each faction (selflessness, bravery, etc). Someone who doesn't fit in is known as "Divergent" and immediately in danger. 

The movie was released in 2014 and stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz and Kate Winslet. There are some differences between the book and movie - the book is actually a lot more graphic and violent, this is toned down for the movie. I thought the cast were well chosen, and the story was exciting to watch. The second film in the trilogy, Insurgent, is also on Netflix, and that was enjoyable enough too. Avoid the third film - they split the last book Allegiant into two parts, released one part (awful), then never made part 2. As a standalone movie, Divergent works well. 

Safe Haven

  

Safe Haven is a 2010 novel by Nicholas Sparks about a woman named Katie, who comes to a small coastal town to escape something in her past. There, she meets single father Alex, a widowed shop owner. As Katie begins to let her guard down, her past starts to catch up with her, putting her new life and Alex at risk.

The film version of this was released in 2013 and I have seen it six times. It's pure cheese - it really plays on your emotions (as is Nicholas Sparks' speciality) - but I LOVED it. It stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in the lead roles, and they are perfect. There are some niggly changes from the book (and there's a really ridiculous part that features heavily in both) but overall I enjoyed the movie much more than the book, so I think fans of this kind of film will like it. It's perfect for when you just want something easy to concentrate on.

The Duff 

  

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) is a teen novel written by Kody Keplinger when she was 17, and released in 2010. It's about teenager Bianca Piper, who is horrified when "man-whore" (her words) Wesley dubbs her "The DUFF" (designated ugly fat friend) of her group. She's even more horrified when she begins to fall for Wesley...
I didn't really enjoy this book - the plot was all over the place and Bianca was confused and scattered. Her mother was a horrible character and some of Bianca's actions felt like they were plot devices rather than natural responses.

However. I LOVE the movie . It stars Mae Whitman (who is one of my favourite actresses), Robbie Amell, and - klaxon - ALLISON JANNEY. It was Allison's involvement that prompted me to watch the movie - and it's almost unrecognisable from the book. In the movie, there's no sex, there's no using people as "distractions", it's updated for a social media obsessed generation and it gives a much better message about being yourself. Plus, it's funny.

P.S. I Love You


  


P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern was originally released in book form in 2004. It focuses on Holly, a young widow who is unable to move on with her life after her husband Gerry dies. When letters from Gerry begin to mysteriously arrive with directions for Holly to follow, she begins to love life again. I read this when it was released, I was 21 at the time (the same age Cecelia was when she wrote it) and I enjoyed it, I thought it was a great idea for a story.

The movie version was released in 2007 and stars Gerard Butler, Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow and James Marsters (yep, Spike). Gerard Butler's accent is inexplicable (he calls Holly "Hallie") and there are some major plot holes (posting something to Ireland without putting the county on it - yep, that'll get there...). This is one of those movies I watch when I want to switch my brain off and just relax for an hour and a half - perfect hangover viewing.

The Woman in Black

  

A novella released in 1983, The Woman in Black is a great gothic ghost story by Susan Hill. It's set in a small English town, with a mysterious ghostly woman supposedly foreshadowing the death of children. It's told by Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor who was sent to the town for work. It's creepy and atmospheric.

The 2012 film version stars Daniel Radcliffe and has many changes from the book. In the film, Arthur is still sent to the town for work, but the events leading up to that are different, as are the events in the town. It's still a great story, and I enjoyed it, I found it suitably spooky and thought it played out well. The sequel (The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death) is also on Netflix but I haven't seen it.

There are loads more movies that I haven't seen yet - Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is there, plus Brooklyn, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Wild and many more.

I'd love to know what your favourite book-to-movie adaptation is, for me it has to be Stephen King's Misery - I think it was spot on, the acting was perfect and the story was brilliant.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Experience with Postnatal Depression

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

This is a piece I wrote in 2014 in response to an article by John Waters at the time that claimed depression was "all made up, it's bullshit". The original post was deleted in error, so I'm publishing it again today in the hope that it may help someone else.


In early 2004, I discovered I was pregnant. I was 20 years old, I was in my first "adult" job, and I was enjoying my life after a period of stupid teen rebellion. For the first time in my life up to then, I was "settled". Then, I became pregnant. We weren't set up financially. We weren't ready. We were actually only together a few months. I tried to ignore it, thinking it would go away. Abortion wasn't an option - it's illegal in Ireland. Every month that passed, my belly grew, and I continued to ignore it. I was 16 weeks before I ever went near a GP. By the time my son came along in September 2004, I had finished my job and couldn't take another short-term contract, I had turned 21, and I was now looking at the prospect of being a full-time stay at home Mum.

His birth was traumatic to say the least. I was 38 weeks pregnant when I woke feeling a gush. I expected to see my waters after breaking - but when I turned the light on, I saw a pool of blood. I'm actually shaking writing this because it's something I never dealt with properly - I woke my partner, rang an ambulance, and they arrived really quickly. I was brought to hospital at 2am with lights, sirens, the whole lot (seeing an ambulance with lights & sirens still makes my heart sink). I went through 3 pairs of pyjama bottoms and was losing blood the whole way there. When I got there, they put a monitor on me, called my consultant in, who said "I'm not happy. I will do an emergency c-section". I signed the form, was knocked out, and woke up in recovery at 4/5 am. I asked "What did I have?" and the nurse replied "a boy". I asked "Is he okay?" I was told he was. (I also asked "Is he human?" but we'll put that down to the anesthetic...) He was fine. It was only the next day that I was told I had suffered a placental abruption, where the placenta partially detached from the womb. A member of staff told me nonchalantly "You're lucky. A lot of the time when we get that either the mother or baby dies."

This picture was taken when he was a day old - it makes me so sad to see myself like that.


I was home after a week, and my partner had to return to work. I refused all offers of help because - hello, I'm a big girl, I don't need help, I can do this all by myself. Except I couldn't. I would take the baby into the bed with me in the morning, go down and grab enough bottles for the day, and lie in the bed and cry. The worry was unbelievable - I worried I'd hurt him. I worried that he wasn't happy. That I wasn't looking after him properly. I had images of him lying dead in the cot. I had images of myself tripping and falling downstairs and killing him. I lived on my nerves, in a constant state of panic, and I would get up every single day at 4:30pm and get dressed, put on makeup, put dinner on for himself, and pretend we'd been out and about all day. This went on for months - I cut myself off from the world completely. My husband would be the first to tell you that he hadn't a clue about depression and just thought I had "baby blues" like lots of women, but that I was coping. I never went to my GP - I was afraid they'd take the child away from me.

It took years to fully shake the cloud. I got up taking every day as it came - and I knew instantly whether it would be a good day or bad day. During the years that followed, I had my ups and downs, but that little knot in my stomach was a sure-fire sign that the cloud was on its way. I learned coping techniques, like using music or walking - I actually rang The Samaritans in bits one day and talked to an angel of a woman who told me I needed to talk to someone and accept help. Of course I didn't - I didn't want people to think I was a crap mother. Many a night I cried myself to sleep with that knot in my chest praying I wouldn't wake up in the morning, then crying because I felt guilty for thinking that, then crying because I felt bad for my son having such a shit mother, then crying because I was already crying so what difference would it make? I had a permanent headache from crying - so much so that I then developed an addiction to Solpadeine, only quitting that cold turkey when the ban came in a few years ago and you couldn't get it without an Inquisition. I put on 5 stone over the course of a few years, doing what I'd always done, and used food as a friend.

Roll on to 2013 - when you have twins, people ask you very stupid questions. "Are they twins?" "Are they boys or girls?" "Are they natural?" "Were they planned?" "Are there twins in your family?" - I'm used to those. The one question I always used to get when I mentioned I had a 9 year old was "Wow, that's a big gap". Yes, yes it is. And do you want to know why? Because I was TERRIFIED of pregnancy again. Terrified. It took me 7 years to even want to discuss the notion of having any more children. When we got married in 2012 we sat down and decided that we would try for another child. In February 2013 I found out I was pregnant - and so it began.

Nerves, worry, panic, anxiety, FEAR - but this time I went to the GP. I sat and I cried my eyes out in front of him, and he listened. He told me to listen to my body and my head, to switch off my phone, and take a half hour outside just for me, every day, and just breathe. I did, and it did help. He also told me not to Google. This is the one bit of advice I'd give to any pregnant lady - please, don't google. If you have a tendency towards anxiety at all, it will turn you into a ball of nerves. What was worrying me was the prospect of having another abruption. I lived in terror that I would again wake in a pool of blood and that this time we wouldn't be as lucky. I googled VBACs after abruption and I wept with fear.

I went for a clinic appointment in August, when I was 27 weeks pregnant. I mentioned to one of the nurses that I was worried about the abruption, and she told me to tell the doctor to scan the placenta. He did - and he said "I think I see another head". The hours that passed are a bit of a blur to be honest - I went into shock, appointments were booked, scans were booked - and essentially, I was having twins. I was told at one appointment that one was "dangerously underweight" and sent to the Coombe. I saw Dr.Lynch in the Coombe, a wonderful consultant, who told me everything was fine and that she would see me again. I am forever in her debt for helping me through a time when I didn't know my arse from my elbow, and taking time for me even though I was a public patient and sent to her at the last minute.

All plans for a VBAC went out the window, and I had the boys on October 1st by elective c-section. The nurses in Mullingar were a fantastic help. They helped me with feeds and changes and gave me a chance to get some sleep over the first 36 hours. The second night, I thought I could do it all by myself and didn't call anyone. The third morning, a nurse said "sweetheart, why didn't you bell anyone last night? You're not on your own" - and the tears came. I pulled the curtain, I hugged my babies, I cried and I thought - fuck. Here we go again.

The night I came home with the boys, a relative was here and wanted to chat. I don't think she realised how exhausted I was, the enormity of having two newborns had hit me on the way home in the car and I cried silently most of the way home. I didn't want to chat. I wanted to try and attempt to get into bed without ripping a stitch. I ended up locking myself in the bathroom and bawling until I looked like The Elephant Man and wished for Solpadeine. She left, I came out, and I completely freaked my husband out. When I had stopped hyperventilating, I had to explain to him to watch out for certain signs because I was so afraid of the cloud returning. My PHN had a chat with me the next day and also said she'd talk to my husband and that there were lots of people looking out for me.

Thankfully, over the next few days, I felt better - and the cloud didn't come. My husband was a fantastic support, making sure he was here to give me a few hours to myself in the evenings to sleep, wash, watch telly - whatever. The next few weeks passed in a blur of sleeplessness, wound pain, slow recovery - until I realised that the boys were fine, and I was fine. There are days when I feel the knot in my stomach, and my paranoia about SIDS was beyond belief for a while - but we are okay. It went on far too long with my eldest son, I wasted the first few years of his life pretending that my mask was working. It wasn't. My twins are now 3 - and I don't remember this age at all with my eldest. I don't remember potty training, or moving him to his own bed. I feel like Postnatal depression robbed me of three years worth of memories. I barely have any pictures from that time - my phone was broken and I was just tired, drained, sad - all the time.

It's okay to NOT be okay. If you feel down, or worried, anxious, useless, hopeless or scared - talk to someone. Your public health nurse or GP would be a good start - but if you feel you can't do it face to face, ring Aware (1890 303 302) or The Samaritans (116 123). It doesn't make you less of a mother and it doesn't make you less of a person. It's not your fault. You've done nothing wrong. There's help there for you. Take it.

Depression is all Bullshit? I wish. I really do.



Monday, March 27, 2017

Owlcrate March 2017: Sailors, Ships and Seas

Nothing to disclose

Hi!

The theme for March's Owlcrate was "Sailors, Ships and Seas" - I've never been hugely into that kind of thing, but I wanted to read something out of my comfort zone so I didn't skip this one (if the theme isn't to your liking and you're a subscriber, you have the option to skip a month).

I was going for a kinda "waves" look with the background here but it's very possible that it just comes off as "iron? what's an iron?".


I had heard from a few people online that this was a disappointing box - I found it the opposite, I really liked most of the contents and I thought they included a great variety of objects.


Firstly - the book. It's Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. We got a hardback copy, plus a letter from the author, signed bookplate and tattoo. There was also the usual card explaining where the items came from and a preview card for Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser, a YA adventure set on the seas due in June 2017.


Daughter of the Pirate King is a sea-based romp about a seventeen year old pirate captain named Alosa, described as "a lady Jack Sparrow", who allows herself to be captured by her enemies in order to infiltrate their ship and find an ancient hidden map, the key to finding a legendary treasure trove.


The merchandise this month was cute - Owlcrate always include items from small sellers or crafters, I like that they don't go down the mass production route. The background here is a big hand printed tea towel from Kitch Studios. There was a notepad from Boygirlparty available in two exclusive designs (I received the very cute octopus). There was also a compass necklace from The Geeky Cauldron designed by Owlcrate exclusively for this box. There was a roll of mermaid scales washi tape by Simply Guilded, and the final item was a little owlcrate badge, there's one in every box to suit the theme. Some people also received a little enamel pin, they were limited and included as an extra in a number of boxes.

The theme reveal card for April was also included:


The April theme will be Head over Heels and will contain an item from Storiarts (really hoping for a scarf!).

If you're interested in subscribing to Owlcrate, you can use the code WELCOME15 for 15% off your first order. That's not an affiliate code, I gain nothing from it. If you would like to help me earn a free box, this is my referral link - otherwise go directly to www.owlcrate.com and sign up there.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Five Star Friday: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I was going to post about this month's Owlcrate, but I've bumped that to Monday in favour of another Five Star Friday read. These are books that I've rated five stars on Goodreads, the highest available rating.

You can see past Friday picks on my Books 2017 page, click the covers to go to the blog post.

This week, I've picked The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.


Published | April 26th 2012
Page Count | 464
Genre(s) | Drama | Relationships | Historical Fiction

PLOT
Set in Australia in 1926, Tom and Isabel live on a remote island 100 miles off the coast, where Tom is a lighthouse keeper. They long for a baby of their own - but Isabel can not carry a child to term. When a dinghy washes up ashore, the man inside is dead - but the baby in his arms is very much alive. Could this be their salvation....or is it the ruination of the couple and all they hold dear? 

WHY FIVE STARS?
This made me ugly cry. I got so invested in it that I ended up reading in the dark - I hadn't noticed that the evening had crept in. It's engaging, it's sad - it really made me think about the difference between the right thing to do and the best thing to do (they're not always necessarily the same thing). I ended up torn between two characters and wanting a positive outcome for both, which was impossible. It's really beautiful and heartfelt, with powerful writing and stunning descriptions of the island. It's not perfect, but it's a solid debut novel and I'd recommend it to anyone (parts of it could be very upsetting for someone who has experienced the loss of a child). 

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:
(Click the cover for more information)

  












Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Breaking up with Snapchat

Not Sponsored or Paid | Not a Collaboration

Hi!


I wasn't going to write this post, but I've gotten messages and comments on every platform every day for the past three weeks asking where I am on Snapchat - I'm done with it. Done. Gone. Not coming back. Over. Finished.

The Honeymoon Period
I joined Snapchat when it started to become a popular platform for bloggers, so maybe 2015? I'm a stay at home Mum and it was such a brilliant way to chat to other people. I loved the novelty of seeing other peoples daily lives, and as someone who has never gone to a blog event, I loved seeing those too. I enjoyed watching super famous people like Reese Witherspoon and the Kardashians (and Britney's sister), it was a total novelty.

As my views went up, more and more people started to send me messages. Which was lovely, for the most part. I got a bit of hassle early on and it really got to me (so much so that I wrote this post) - I left for a couple of days, and got hundreds of supportive messages from people. I came back, skin thicker than ever, and kept snapping daily life - but I just got so tired of it. It got to the point where I was expected to answer questions daily - I've no issue with general questions, but it got incredibly intrusive ("what should I buy my mother for Christmas" "show us your husband" "what does your husband do" "where abouts do you live" "why do your kids not go to playschool" "why do you not have a dishwasher [complete with Dermot Bannon style plans on how I could fit one in - who needs cupboards anyway]" "why have you so much crap on your worktops" "why don't your kids have a playroom" "why don't you snap your cat" "why don't you let your cat in the house" "why do you have a cat around kids" "can I have a shoutout" "can you post about my blog" "can you mention my charity fund" "can you mention our sale" "can you mention our discount" "can you mention my birthday" "can you snap your cat for my sister" "can you snap that recipe again that you snapped six months ago" "how do I cook this turkey" "why are you wrapping Santa presents" "why are you leaving presents out before Christmas" "what are the last order dates for beauty bay" "can u email me your PR contacts I want to start a blog" - all real questions I was asked.


You Changed, Man
Over the past year, in general, the atmosphere on Snapchat changed. As advertising increased (no issue with this by the way - I did an ad too) - people began to question motives more. Anonymous threads began to appear, Instagram comments started to turn sour, the rise of the term "influencer" took over and seemed to sweep us all down the river. Anyone with a public Snapchat account was called an influencer and was discussed, questioned, and examined. Can I add here, for the record - nobody has any obligation to declare something as an #ad if money hasn't changed hands. That's a really common misconception - that people are being misled intentionally. And that's how I felt Snapchat had turned - people were now watching with an overly critical eye, ready to pounce on a slip-up. It was really uncomfortable and led to the constant re-filming of Snaps. Also, the term "blogger" was thrown around when discussing Snapchat, leading to a huge increase in ACTUAL bloggers throwing in the towel because of the negative connotations attached to the title. Every time someone mentioned something "bloggers need to avoid" it all related to Snapchat. A blogger is someone who writes and posts on a website, not someone with a Snapchat account.


Seven Two Year Itch
I love chatting. I do. But it got to the point where I was getting so many messages that I didn't want to open my app at all, and I didn't want to turn my WiFi on at all some days. I'd get a sense of dread every time I looked at the phone. I began to censor myself more and more. I also got really paranoid. I got paranoid that people were talking about me, or that I was doing something wrong, I got paranoid about showing products I liked. I didn't like the idea of people discussing me. I didn't like having to justify myself constantly. I didn't like having to censor my snaps in case a child was in the background because people would screenshot them. I tried closing my messages but then it felt like I was talking to nobody and it was all a bit pointless (plus, the minute I opened my Snaps again all the undelivered messages would come through anyway and I'd be back at square one). Being 100% honest, my family got a bit pissed off with me snapping when we were out too. And my grocery shopping took FOREVER because I snapped so many shelves. All the craic went out of snapping.


Packing My Bags
The final straw was when my children were in bad form and I hadn't really snapped much - I tried to put on a happy face and snapped about going out for a burger. The first reply I got was "state of your nails tho..." and I thought - right, that's it, done. I'm no longer prepared to put myself under that scrutiny, this isn't my job. I don't have to do this. I chose to share, so I choose to stop. By the end, over 5,000 people were watching me - people I know in real life who don't speak to me in real life were watching me and it freaked me out. Imagine walking into a room with 5,000 people in it, everyone knowing your name, your home, your daily routine - and you haven't a clue who 4,750 of them are. It made me feel very vulnerable. One night I got a message with a video of a guy my husband worked with years ago - how did they find him? How did I even come up in conversation?! I said to my sister "I feel like I'm being watched all the time" and she replied ".........but............you are?!".

Freedom
I've been snap-free for almost a month now and I have to say, my mood has improved dramatically. I wake up knowing that my day is my own, I'm not under any obligation to share, I don't have to sit answering questions for hours (and it took hours), I can still have chats with people on other social media platforms, and I'm talking to people I lost contact with because they didn't 'do' Snapchat. I've more time for the kids, I've more time to read, I've more WiFi and Data left so I can catch up on Netflix more often - I can genuinely say there hasn't been one single downside to leaving. I miss a couple of people very much and I need to make more of an effort to interact with them on other platforms but apart from that? I don't miss a second of it. I'm out of the bubble, and my mental health thanks me for it.

I'm not coming back. I really, really appreciate the support and nice messages - but I'm telling you, I'm done.



I still love talking shite and sharing bargains, tips, food, books, daily life stuff - I'm on Instagram (I do the odd story there too), I'm on Twitter, I'm on Facebook -  I've still been blogging here regularly too, I never stopped that. I haven't gone away. I'm just done with the anonymity and pressure that comes with snapping. I've actually got much more time now for the other platforms and my engagement across all of them has been so much better since I left Snapchat - so please do get in touch!

Thank you to every single person who followed or snapped since I started - thanks for the shoutouts, for the laughs, and for the support.

It's not you, it's me.






Thursday, March 16, 2017

Look Fantastic Beauty Box March 2017: The Elle Magazine Edition

Not Sponsored or Paid | No Affiliate Links | No Samples

Hi!

This is my second box from Look Fantastic this year, it's the Elle Magazine Edit. As always, the box comes with a copy of Elle magazine - usually I just dump these (because beauty magazines are just full of crap designed to make us feel bad about our bodies) but I like Emma Watson so I said I'd give it a read.

There were 80 pages of ads before the Editor's letter at the start. Then another 6 pages of ads before we got to our horoscopes (mine said I should go globetrotting), then another 18 pages of ads that brought us to a one-page piece about how fashion is feeling at the moment. Then another 36 pages of ads until the next article - so I just gave up, sorry Emma. I will say, if you're someone who likes to use high fashion ads as blog/instagram backgrounds - Elle is the magazine for you.


Inside this month's box were six products chosen "to push the boundaries of beauty, to bring you the most exciting products in the industry".


Starskin Eye Catcher Eye Mask | Worth: approx €5.23 (Full Size: €10.45 for 2 pairs)
I've had these in a beauty box before - they're nice, they're cellulose eye masks that claim to reduce puffiness, fine lines and dark circles. I can't say I noticed any of the above, but as with most of these products, they give a temporary fresh look to the eyes and feel nice. 

Pür Minerals Disappearing Act Concealer | Worth: approx €12 (Full Size €23.45 for 2.8g)
This is a lightweight concealer that promises to eradicate dark circles while giving good coverage. I received the shade 'light', which is still a little dark for me, but it seems nice. I'd compare it to Catrice's Camouflage Cream, it's a very similar consistency and gives similar coverage.

Caudalie VineActiv 3 in 1 Moisturiser | Worth: approx €14.42 (Full Size €38.45 for 40ml)
A moisturiser for face and neck containing anti-pollution technology and something that helps with pore blocking. This smells really, really strong - like leaves, cucumbers, gardens - it's not completely off-putting but I prefer my facial moisturisers to be less fragranced. It's very lightweight, and feels lovely, but the smell is strong. 

St. Tropez Instant Tan Finishing Gloss | Worth: approx €4.33 (Full Size €14.45 for 100ml)
Apparently this was first seen on the catwalks at London for Spring/Summer 2017 - personally I feel like products of this sort have been around for donkeys years. It can be used alone or over tan - it just gives a shiny look, with tiny particles that catch the light. Not a product that interests me, unfortunately, but if you want shiny skin then you may like it. 

SkinChemists 24hr Aqua Repair Facial Serum | Worth: approx €48.39 (Full Size Product)
This is a lightweight facial serum containing rose water and aloe vera, that work together to nourish the skin while healing and hydrating. It smells gorgeous (it smells expensive) and a pea-sized amount is all that's needed, meaning the 30ml tube will last ages. This does leave my skin feeling hydrated and plump, it's a lovely product. 

Redken Professional Heatcure Treatment | Worth: approx €5.60 (Full Size €22.45 for 4)
This is an innovative hair treatment - gone are the days when we had to boil the kettle to steep a tube of hot oil in a cup, this is a self-heating conditioning mask that begins to heat up when you peel the label back. You use the conditioner as normal after shampooing, just leave it on a little longer then rinse. I used this today - I'll have a mini review on my Instagram later about it. 


So, overall, when I opened the box I thought - meh. A concealer that probably won't suit me, a tan product, and some skincare. So, it's 50/50 for me on this one - 3 meh products (the Caudalie moisturiser, the leg gloss and the concealer). On the other hand, I was delighted with the Skinchemists serum, eye masks and the hair mask, they're things I really enjoyed but would never have bought for myself - and isn't that the whole point of a beauty box? I'm not entirely sure if everything fits in with the 'innovation' theme - (how innovative is concealer?) - but I'm glad that it's not full of lip gloss and kohl pencils like some other box brands I've tried.

Again, I'm looking forward to next month's box already. 

Total Box Worth: €89.97
Cost of Box: €16.20 approx as part of 6 month subscription
Verdict: Could do without tan products, but a nice box with some really interesting brands. 




Friday, March 10, 2017

Buffy and Me - #BuffySlays20

Not sponsored or paid | No samples | No affiliate links


Hi!

Now - firstly, I'm already giddy at the thought of writing this and trying to get everything I want to say into one post, so forgive me in advance. It's going to be wordy, it's going to be full of Buffspeak, and it's going to descend into waffle and/or fangirl territory fairly quickly. This is my sickness.

Here's the soundtrack just to put you in the mood - if anyone can get past the two minute mark in "Close Your Eyes" without getting teary, you are made of stone, my friend.

 

I've just deleted two paragraphs of waffle, including air dates for various countries (see what I mean?) - all I need to say, really, is that TV3 began in Ireland in 1998 and brought with it a plethora of American TV shows, including Buffy (and the gloriously ludicrous Sunset Beach). From the off, my sister and I were all over it - we video taped every episode off the telly beginning with episode one.

Our Homemade Script Books

A lot of people my age seem to have a bit of a grá for witches, witchcraft, and all things magic in general - so when the Season One episode "Witch" aired, my sister and I knew we had found our people. We began taping it off the tape off the telly - let me explain. We'd use the video recorder to tape the episode off the telly. Then we'd set up a cassette recorder and record all the audio. Then we'd make a copy of the cassette so we each had one. Then we'd spend a day or so listening and pausing, listening and pausing, to write down every. single. scrap of dialogue from the episode on A4 notebooks and each pick several parts to play and we'd run dialogue. I'm sorry, Stephanie, if this outs us for the absolute nerds we were, but it's something we adored and we did it well into Season 2 when it became - well, a ridiculous amount of effort. We had entire folders full of scripts. This is probably the reason that myself and Steph could mouth the dialogue of the first - at least the first 12 - episodes.



Merchandise

Getting merchandise of any kind wasn't easy when you lived in Leitrim and you had very little money - but by 1999, I had a part time job and was able to buy the odd book. We'd both read the books from the library, but our favourites were The Watchers Guide and The Sunnydale High Yearbook. There was also a quiz one that we used to test each other regularly with. Now - there are thousands of Buffy books out there, I know that there are a few of the old story ones on thebookshop.ie (just search 'Buffy'). My most recent addition to my Buffy collection has been this colouring book, complete with quotes and scenes from various episodes. I love it so much that I don't want to colour it. A family friend from America once sent us the most 90's backpacks - silver, slightly shimmery, with the Buffy logo on it. Mine is still floating round somewhere, it resurfaces every so often. My sister bought the soundtrack on cassette, I later bought it on CD.



Favourite Personal Buffy Moments


1. The time my sister and I wrote to Kathleen Tracy, author of "The Girl's Got Bite" - to ASK HER IF SHE COULD SEND US CAST PHOTOS. You need to remember here that we had no internet access and nobody was printing photos or posters of Spike or Drusilla - so because Kathleen had lots of photos in her book, and we had her book, it seemed totally reasonable to write a letter to this woman telling her how much we loved her book and asking her for copies of the pictures she used. To her credit, despite the fact that we probably appeared absolutely crazy (and demanding), she wrote us a lovely letter back explaining that that's not really how it works, but with a black & white picture of Spike & Dru printed on to the letter. That letter immediately became one of our prized possessions.

2. The time I whittled a stake to use as a prop for a nail polish post. For those wondering, I didn't whistle a jaunty tune.

3. Well, this. Clearly. I changed my twitter handle this year but the tweet is still there - I still get a little bit giddy every time I search for it regularly remember it, tbh.


4. Having toddlers that treat sleep like it's some kind of challenge can have benefits sometimes.


This is unlikely to happen again (those people are HARDCORE) but it's a great way to remember little details about the show. (That's from the Quiz Up app btw - it's free, my current special subjects are Buffy, Friends, and 2000s Music).

5. Realising that there were others who loved Buffy just as much as I did. It's awesome, it's fantastic, and it's still amazing to me how much people LOVE Buffy. I'd love if the 20th Anniversary could introduce new fans to the show, because it's such an important one. The twitter hashtag #buffyslays20 is just fantastic. When you grow up and you find other fans, there's a solidarity there. We get it. We're like a Scooby Gang, only we're scattered all over the world. We were there together, we watched together, we experienced it all together.



Buffy saved me. Buffy, Willow, Jenny, Joyce, Faith - they all showed me that women could be strong, women could be powerful, women could change the world. They showed me that we can do anything we want to. They taught me that no matter how hard life gets, no matter how much we have to sacrifice or fight, that things CAN get better and things CAN change. The entire gang taught me to stand up for what I believe in and to fight for Good. And, also, that High School (or Secondary School) can be a little bit shit for everyone. You just need to get through it.

"If Joss Whedon had had one good day in High School, we wouldn't be here." - David Greenwalt



20th Anniversary: Welcome to the Hellmouth Buffywatch!

Recently, I've become severely addicted to the Buffering the Vampire Slayer podcast. I've mentioned this here before, but it's just like sitting down every week to meet up with friends and chat about Buffy - only they're the type of friends who don't think you're crazy for talking about continuity or pop culture references, they positively encourage it. Hosts Kristin and Jenny are rewatching from the start, and documenting their thoughts after every episode. Plus, there's an amazing original song at the end of every episode. Prophecy Girl made me cry. They're holding a Facebook Live event to celebrate the 20th Anniversary tonight, on March 10th - unfortunately for those of us running on GMT, it's at 1am, but I really want to join in - the plan is to get your Season 1 DVD, or your episode online, however you watch - and press play at the same time, so we can all join in chat and watch together all around the world. You'll find the event on Facebook:  20th Anniversary: Welcome to the Hellmouth Buffywatch!

Favourite Buffy Episodes 

I could go on for years and years but there are so many things I love about every season - I'm not mad about Season 7, truth be told - I've learned to tolerate Riley and Dawn more with every rewatch, I've learned that even though Xander does my head in he's pretty important (Buffy would've stayed dead without him) I've a new admiration for Joyce since I watched it again after having my kids, and I'll always love Giles.

It goes without saying, if you're planning on watching Buffy and you haven't seen it before, there are some fairly big spoilers in the videos below so proceed with caution. Also, they're not in chronological order.

1. Once More, With Feeling
Musical episodes can be dodgy (all of that Grey's one apart from Sara Ramirez was pretty cringe, tbh) - but the gang nailed it here. I still listen to this soundtrack regularly, that last part when they find out what really happened to Buffy.....heartbreaking. It's so clever.


2. Hush
A silent episode? How will that work? That'll never work... IT WORKS. The Gentlemen are easily one of the scariest Big Bads of the whole show, but a lot happens in this episode. It's a really important one for Willow and Tara, as it's the first time they see how strong they are combined. The scene with Giles and the projector is one of my favourites of any show, ever. It's just hilarious from start to finish.


3. Prophecy Girl
This is when shit got serious. Up to then, Season One had been kickass, it had been amazing, Buffy had been fantastic - but this is where she realised she the choice between saving the world and saving herself. We see her really afraid, then face those fears head on - It's a brilliant episode.


4. Becoming, Part II
Both episodes in the 'Becoming' two-parter are emotionally draining, they're just perfect. I still remember the first time I saw Part II and how much it made me sob - I'll still never forgive Xander, and I still can't get through "Close Your Eyes" without BAWLING. I don't want to embed a video here because the title pretty much gives away the plot, but if you fancy putting yourself through that particular hell again (I've just done a full-on Dawson cry here), you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UklpzSAKLfo

5. The Prom
Buffy is determined that her friends will have a perfect Prom - so she does all she can to protect them. This is the first time that other students acknowledge that Sunnydale isn't the safest place to live - and the scene where Jonathan (GRRRRRRR) gives her the Class Protector award is really lovely, she finally gets some appreciation and recognition from her peers. Plus, that super proud look on Giles' face? Adorable.




Thank you Joss Whedon.


In honour of the 20th Anniversary (and because I'll probably fall asleep long before the Buffering Facebook live event), I'm going to start rewatching from episode one at the weekend. This time, I'm going to blog it - I'll wait until I have a couple of episodes at a time to chat about and aim for 1-2 posts a month, they'll be weekend posts. Please use this as an opportunity to watch with me if it's something you're interested in!


Still holding out for Xander, Giles, Faith and Tara Funkos...



Friday, March 3, 2017

L'Oréal Beauty and the Beast - Color Riche Lipsticks (The Beast and Lumiere)

Not sponsored or paid | No samples | No Affiliate Links


Hi!


The internet was ablaze a few weeks ago with the announcement that L'Oréal would be launching a limited edition line to coincide with the launch of Beauty and the Beast in March. Featuring 7 lipsticks and 7 nail polishes, the collection was made even more desirable by the fact that it would only be available to purchase in Italy.

Never one to let geography get in the way of a gimmick, I went to amazon.it and ordered two of the lipsticks. They cost me approx. €17 each delivered - they would have been less, but I bought them individually. They keep coming back in stock - so if you're really after one, keep checking the site. The nail polishes don't ship to Ireland. At the time of writing this, Belle, Spolverina and Lumiere are all in stock for €9.99 each plus postage.







Lumiere (Sepia Silk) is a medium nude that looks darker on the lips than in the bullet.

Beast (Oud Obsession) is a dark warm 90's brown that leans towards wine.

They're just standard Color Riche lipsticks with stickers on the packaging. I assumed that the bullets would be printed, but they're literally just heavy paper stickers, and they're not even on that straight. I'm also not impressed that the shade names are "Oud Obsession" and "Sepia Silk" on the bottom - surely it wouldn't have killed them to print "Beast" and "Lumiere" on this batch?

All of the colours are part of the standard Color Riche range - which, in fairness, is a decent lipstick range. The lipsticks themselves are creamy and pigmented, and last a decent amount of time. But - they're not limited edition, they're just a selection of seven already available shades with new stickers on the bullets.

Once again, I fall for a marketing gimmick hook, line, and sinker.

It is indeed, a tale as old as time.




Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 2017 Reads & World Book Day Books 2017

Not Sponsored or Paid | ARCs clearly defined as per disclosure policy

Hi!

How is February over already?! January felt like an entire year, while February whizzed by. I managed to finish 10 books in total. I'm going through one of those weird reading phases where I'm midway through 4 books at the same time, so hopefully I'll have those finished this week and I can add them to the March total.

As with every month, you can go to my Books 2017 page to find a clickable cover for every book I read - that'll take you directly to my full Goodreads review.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

One of my reading resolutions was to read (or try to read) every choice this year, because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to books I'd never have considered. I've found some amazing books through it (The Thing About December, Station Eleven) so I'd really recommend it if you're looking for inspiration. This month, I read both choices.

  

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
A psychological thriller about a woman named Louise, who meets a man at a bar. Unfortunately for Louise, the man turns out to be married - and her new boss. When his wife befriends Louise, she's caught between the two - but there's something really strange happening, and someone knows much more than they should...
I liked this, I really did. I thought it was sharp, clever, and it hooked me from the beginning. Much fuss has been made of the ending (even on the cover) - it has its own hashtag on twitter (#WTFthatending). I'd avoid the hashtag, and reviews, until you've read the book, then come back to me and tell me what you think. Personally - it didn't work for me - I HATED the ending, but I liked the rest of the book.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon
I had never read anything by Michael Chabon before. I enjoyed his writing, his use of language is gorgeous. This is a story about his Grandparents, formed from tales Michael's Grandfather told him in the final ten days of his life. It's not certain whether or not the story is fact or fiction - the author says he embellished or changed facts where necessary - but I'd love to think it's true. His Grandmother was a wonderfully interesting character, her story alone is worth reading the book for.


Non-Fiction

I've been going through a bit of a true crime phase, so four of my choices this month were non-fiction.

  

Madeleine: The Truth is Out There by Peter Scharrenberg
The truth may be out there, but it's not in this book. The facts are presented as we know them: Madeleine McCann went missing while on holiday in Portugal aged 3. After that, it's pretty much speculation. While this book may be of interest to people who are completely unfamilar with the case, there isn't much here for those who have been following from day one.

Shannon: Betrayed From Birth by Rose Martin
After the recent BBC documentary "The Moorside" (available on YouTube for those who missed it) I decided to read this book, one of the only ones available on the case. It's the story of Karen Matthews and her involvement in the kidnap of her daughter Shannon in 1998. The book reads like a Daily Mail article - there's a lot of stereotyping and  "Shannon must have felt" or "Shannon would have assumed" - but if you look past that it's an interesting, if very sad, case.

  

Maddie: The Truth of the Lie by Gonçalo Amaral
This is the book that the McCanns went to court to have banned. The ruling has since been overturned, but the book is still fairly hard to find. It has been made available freely online - I read it here: http://frommybigdesk.blogspot.ie/2010/01/maddie-truth-of-lie.html. It's easy to see why the McCanns don't want people to read it - it doesn't make them look good - but at the same time, it's not speculation or hearsay, it's facts taken from evidence and statements. A really interesting and worthwhile read. 

Who Killed Jonbenet Ramsey? by Dr. Cyril Wecht & Charles Bosworth, Jr.
Jonbenet Ramsey was a six year old pageant queen who was found dead in her home at Christmas over 20 years ago in Colorado. Nobody has ever been caught for her murder, and camps are fairly evenly split between "it was an intruder" and "it was someone inside the house". This is a good fact-led book that pretty much blows the intruder theory out of the water. For those who have been following this case for a long time, or those who have seen all the documentaries, there probably won't be anything new in here - but for those new to the case, this would be a good starting point. 

Young Adult

  

Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin * ARC from Netgalley, Published June 1 2017
Having read both of Virginia Bergin's other YA books (The Rain and The Storm) and enjoyed them, I requested this via Netgalley. It's due for publication in June, and it's set in a world 60 years into the future where women rule the world and men are all but extinct due to a virus. When 14 year old River finds an injured boy in the woods, what will this mean for society? This was an interesting read, I did enjoy it, but I felt it needed work. Some of the subject matter seemed a little mature given the age of the main characters, but overall I think it could work well to help prompt discussions of a matriarchal vs patriarchal society, feminism and gender with teenagers.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I received this in my February Owlcrate (reviewed in full here), I picked it up to scan the first few lines and ended up reading it in two sittings. It's a fantasy novel about two sisters, Tella and Scarlett, who flee their small island in favour of Caraval, a world of performance, bravery, riddles, mystery, terror and lies. I really, really liked this a lot - I got sucked in and I'd definitely read more if this were turned into a series.

Other Fiction

  


The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson
I've had this on my Kindle for a long time, and it just jumped out at me one morning. It's a thriller about a little girl named Molly who believes she is actually Phoebe Piper, a girl who has been missing for years - is she right? Meanwhile, there's a historical mystery going on when the little girl's Uncle passes away and her Grandmother comes to stay. There's a bit too much going on here - one plot would have been sufficient, but there are a host of subplots happening and I found it confusing.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
This is one of the Richard & Judy Book Club picks for Spring 2017. It's the story of a man in a strained marriage who is trying to build a relationship with his young son, who is on the autism spectrum. Through the game of Minecraft, they begin to understand each other. I did enjoy this to a degree, I found it very similar to Us by David Nicholls. Others have compared it to About a Boy by Nick Hornby and that's not an unfair comparison either. I think I'm too cynical for stuff like this - but it was sweet.

World Book Day Books 2017

Every year for World Book Day, 15 million book tokens are issued to give children a chance to own a book of their own. This is hugely important - books can be expensive, so the chance to give a child a free book is wonderful. The tokens are handed out in school, and can be used to get a free book from the ten specially released editions below. In Ireland we have an eleventh choice. Or, if none of those appeal, the token can be used to get €1.50 off a full price book. Most book sellers honour book tokens - just check with your local one before bringing your child to avoid embarrassment and to make sure the books are in stock (larger retailers like Eason are a fairly safe bet). The tokens are vaild until Sunday 26th March. You can also purchase most of the books on Amazon, some are even available for Kindle. 

Here are the choices this year:



And the extra Irish one courtesy of Judi Curtin and The O'Brien Press:


It's a great way to encourage children to read and to get excited about books. I know people give out about costume day in school (myself included - 24 hours notice means you'll be wearing your mother's shirt as a Death Eater robe, my son) but anything that can get a child to want to read is amazing. Reading and a love of books is a gift you can give your children at any age - but if you give it when they're young, they'll benefit from it even more.

So - have you read any of my February Reads? Or what are you reading at the minute? Read anything lately you really loved? Or wanted to fling at the wall?