Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Glossybox February


I was all geared up to do my second Beauty Box Battle so was waiting for my Chic Treat Club box - but there won't be one! Sadly, Chic Treat Club is no more, which I was really sad to hear. I didn't have a great first box and was sure that things would look up this month - but things were not to be, unfortunately. Still, they had a great year and I wish Amy and Darren all the best with their new adventure!

So - that leaves me with just the one monthly subscription, for Glossybox.

This month was a love themed box, and it was a cutie:

Inside were five products and a little mini pack of Love Hearts (not pictured) that I fully intended to eat on Valentine's Day but gave them to my son when he spotted them.

There were three full-sized products in this month's box, and two samples.

Wilkinson Sword Hydro Silk Razor

I was delighted to see this - it retails for €12.99 on the Boots website (refills are €11.39 for a pack of 3). I've been meaning to buy a proper razor for ages and just never got round to it, so this was very welcome. Full size.

Marsk Mineral Eyeshadow in Fifty Shades

I'm not familiar with mineral eyeshadow - this looked a bit scary in the pot. I thought it would be really dark, but when I swatched it, it's actually an incredibly pigmented steel grey colour that would look amazing with a dark smokey eye look. This is also a full size product and retails for £14.49/€19.60 on the marsk website.

Royal Apothic Tinties Lip Butter in Coral

This is so cute! The packaging is gorgeous, and the lip butter itself is really nice. It made my lips feel smooth and *insert word that rhymes with hoist*, and it had a lovely coconut scent. It's another full size product, and retails at $14/€12.30.

So Susan Rose Quarted Lip & Cheek Palette

Leaving aside my opinion that lipstick in palettes should join baked beans and ventriloquist dummies on a special shelf in the seventh level of hell, this is a complete dud. While the outside cardboard box looks cute and appealing, the compact looks and feels cheap, like play make-up from one of those sets I had as a child. It's not even filled properly - look:

I can safely say that I would not wear any of the colours on either my lips or my cheeks - I found them very old fashioned. I gave this away to someone approaching their sixties who was delighted with it. Here's a quick swatch:

This was a sample sized product, the full size retails at $12/€10.50 and you can look at it here. Sample estimated at €5.25

Face D 3-Luronics Anti Dark Circles Eye Cream

I've seen some other people get a hair product or brow product as their fifth item, but I was SO glad to receive this. Face D isn't a brand I've tried before, but my dark circles are reaching ridiculous levels over the past few weeks and this promises to reduce them FOREVER. See? Says right there on the front. FOR.EV.ER. Do I believe it? No. Will I use it? Hell yes. Delighted! The full size of this costs €22.95 for 15ml at Lloyds Pharmacy. The sample was 7ml, estimated at €11.50.

So - overall I was delighted with the box. It cost me under €18, the total value was a massive €61.64. The razor and lip tintie were my favourites, followed by the eye cream and mineral eyeshadow. I thought the variety was really good this month.

Nicely done, Glossybox.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

50 Shades of Grey, The Book of You and the reality of fantasy


Something a bit different to my usual bookish posts, but I wanted to ramble.

50 Shades of Grey, for all its criticism (mine included), is a very successful franchise. There's no denying that the author has made a lot of money off the back of it, and it must have fans out there somewhere. The very fact that the film version has a hugely publicised Valentine's Day release speaks volumes. This is being touted as THE film to go and see this Saturday - whether it be with your partner or in a group just to take the mickey.

But what, really, is it about? Leaving aside the actual writing, let's look at the plotline. A very shy, vulnerable young woman catches the eye of a very rich, powerful young man. He decides that he wants her for himself and will stop at nothing in order to have her. Once he gets a foot inside the door, that's it. He takes over her life completely. Telling her when to eat, what to eat, what to wear, buying her car, buying the company where she works, hiring staff to watch her, hiring a doctor to administer contraceptives, then introducing her to his sexual fantasies without a single care for her opinions, wants or needs. He completely messes her head up, marks her body, and knows where she is at any given moment.

Reading the paragraph above, that doesn't sound too romantic, does it? In fact, I could almost be talking about the last book I read, The Book of You by Claire Kendal.

I bought this on a whim (I know that this is not really a place for humour but I can not write that sentence without hearing my husband's voice in my head saying "I bought this chocolate on a wimp") for kindle the other night. Clarissa is a vulnerable young woman who has been through a significant relationship break up. One of her work colleagues, Rafe, is harrassing her. Clarissa is gathering evidence to use against him - but he is very, very careful about his actions and how they could be explained away. Rafe knows where she is at any given moment. He watches her. He follows her. He knows when she has her period. He knows what food she likes, what ballet she likes, what she reads. He appears out of the blue and will stop at nothing until he has her - he will not take no for an answer. He's Christian Grey without money. Does Rafe sound sexy? Does he sound like Jamie Dornan could play him in a movie?

Fairytales are mentioned in both books - Bluebeard, in particular, crops up in both. In The Book of You, Rafe uses fairytale metaphors as a way to threaten Clarissa. In 50 Shades, Ana says the line "I tie my hair in pigtails. The more girly I look, the safer I'll be from Bluebeard". Do you know the story of Bluebeard? He was a guy who murdered his wives and kept their bodies swinging on hooks in a locked room. If that's your pet name for your significant other, you have a problem.

While I read 50 Shades with a constant eye-roll and a bit of tutting, I read The Book of You with a sense of dread and an inability to continue it before bed because I felt so uneasy. I actually even feel my lip curling into a snarl when I have to write Rafe's name - which is ridiculous, he's not real?!

I described The Book of You as "50 Shades if Ana had cop on" and I stand by that. The more I think about it, the more it baffles me that an unhealthy obsessive "relationship" could even be given publicity, let alone be the main feature in cinemas on what is supposed to be a romantic occasion.

I'm going to tell you a story now, something I haven't really talked about before. People who know me very well know about it, but I have no problem sharing.

I was on the brink of a very controlling relationship when I was younger. It was actually my first real relationship and I was desperate to please. Would you believe I met him online? It was a dating thing that used to be on pay-as-you-go Eircom phones. He was a singer in a band, I thought he was the dogs bollocks (when really he was just a bollocks). He said he liked my black eyeliner, so I wore it all the time. He said he thought I could be a model if I wasn't so fat, so I stopped eating and lived on fig rolls (can't look at them since), dropped to a size 12 (that's teeny tiny for me). He said I couldn't stay over at his because his mother said I was a bad influence so I paid for B&B accommodation for us both any time I visited. He genuinely thought he was the best thing since sliced bread and that I should have been proud to be with him. Until one day, he asked me for money & something snapped and I walked. I got a friend to ring me, faked a family emergency and I paid an extortionate amount of money to a taxi driver to get me out of there, he drove me to a different county to a friend's house. I left every single thing that I owned behind me. He sent me letters. He rang my mother's house phone day and night, until she started blowing a football whistle down the phone every time he rang. I wanted my CDs back - I had left several behind me. He texted me and told me he would post them up. Which he did. Then he proceeded to text me song lyrics from some of the CD singles I had - sometimes they would run to 12/13 texts. When I went out one day and forgot my phone, he rang me 17 times. Then he texted all manner of abuse because I didn't answer.

Thankfully - he gave up, got the message, and moved on. But I have no doubt in my mind that had I lived in the same county, or nearby, or had to see him every day, that either something would have happened or that my mental health would have been permanently shot to shit. Every time I got a text message on that old red Nokia 3330 my heart fell to my toes - for months afterwards.

This is why I think it's important to be aware that you can say STOP. Be aware that if someone appears a little obsessive or a little controlling, and the alarm bells start ringing, that you can walk. Don't tell yourself "ah he's harmless" or laugh it off. Don't put up with someone making you feel uncomfortable, or overstepping the boundaries of personal space. We have all been in a position where we have felt uncomfortable and thought "he's harmless, he's a bit of a lech, but he's harmless" - stand your ground and say NO. Say "please don't touch me like that" or "do not speak to me like that". Don't be afraid of being called a bitch. If you're in a controlling relationship, don't isolate yourself because you're afraid you'll be a burden or a nuisance on other people. There are people out there who will listen to you, who will believe you, and who will be on your side no matter how good a spin doctor the person is. We all have the right to feel safe and feel happy - nobody should feel dread, nobody should feel fear.

And it certainly shouldn't be turned into a romantic fucking film.

**The Book of You may have triggers for survivors of sexual abuse. **

Samaritans: 116 123
Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 77 88 88
Article from on how to recognise a stalker: HERE.
Visit to access a world of information on how to recognise dating abuse, and for tips on how to stay safe.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Books I Read in January


It's the first round-up of the year, woohoo! I'm not sure if anyone else will be as excited as I, but anyway. Here it is. This also means a new page for Books in 2015, so you'll find that there on the right sidebar under the "books" heading --------->. As always, just click a book cover to go to my Goodreads review. On with the show!

In January, I read 17 books. I didn't even think I had read that many - probably because January felt like the longest month since time began. I read a good mix of paperback and eBooks, which was great because my poor books have been neglected in favour of the kindle lately.

I finished two ebooks from Netgalley in January:

The Room by Jonas Karlsson
Translated from Swedish, this is a short novel about a man who finds an escape from mundane office life when he discovers a private room at work that nobody else can see. Witty, sarcastic and a lot funnier than you'd think, a very enjoyable read.

Baby It's Cold Outside by Kerry Barrett
A fluffy, light rom-com story about a witch planning her wedding and all the obstacles that fall into her path. Meh.

I read three non-fiction books in January, all biographies/autobiographies.

Not Quite a Geordie by Holly Hagan
Holly from Geordie Shore, as she is better known. This book was ghostwritten, fair enough. What wasn't fair enough was the fact that it was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. It promised to show us another side to Holly - but it didn't, she is exactly as she appears on TV. More power to her, if that's the way she wants to live her life then she's entitled to do that, the book was just not my cup of tea at all.

My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton
This was really warm and funny, just as I would imagine Dolly to be in reality. She tells stories about her childhood, about breaking into the music business during a very male-dominated time, and about the various friendships and loves she has had along the way. Her passion about her faith is admirable, and she doesn't push her beliefs on to anyone. Liked this a lot.

Kevyn Aucoin - A Beautiful Life by Kerry Diamond
I picked this up in a used book order, it's a beautiful hardback book full of pictures of Kevyn's makeup (not a makeup guide, though) and anecdotes from some of the people he worked with and called friends. It covers Kevyn's childhood right up to his tragically early death in 2002, and it's a lovely read.

January was a great month for fiction - I got through 6.

Horns by Joe Hill
Ignatius Perrish wakes up after a wild night with a hangover and a pair of horns. Ig soon realises that the horns have a very strange effect on people - they tell him their innermost, darkest secrets or desires. Can Ig use the horns to discover who really murdered his girlfriend Merrin a year before? Loved this.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Maud has early dementia, and needs little notes to remind herself to do things. She hasn't heard from her good friend Elizabeth in a while, so when she thinks something is wrong, and nobody seems to be listening to her, she makes it her business to find out where Elizabeth is. There's an old mystery too - one that Maud can't quite remember, but the details slowly come back... adored this book, but I would proceed with caution if you've had a family member with alzheimers or dementia as I think it could be really difficult and upsetting to get through.

Room by Emma Donoghue
I was so late reading this, it's been on my to-read list for a long time. I really liked it - told entirely from the perspective of a five year old boy, it's the tale of a mother and son who are being imprisoned in an 11 foot square room and their attempt to escape.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel passes a house every day on the train - a house with a glam young couple who appear to be very much in love. She knows them so well from watching them that she notices immediately when something is wrong - and sure enough, the woman goes missing. Can Rachel overcome her own battles and demons to help find out what happened? Thought this was excellent, even if the ending was a bit lukewarm for me.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Cody and Meg have always been best friends - so when Meg ends her life, Cody is shocked that Meg didn't confide in her. She goes to Meg's to pack up belongings, and there she meets people that knew Meg before she died - Cody begins to realise that perhaps there were things in Meg's life that nobody knew about. With the help of some of Meg's friends, Cody goes on a journey to find out why Meg swallowed a bottle of poison. This was brilliant - parts of it made me weep. It's a respectful look at depression and suicide among teens, and it was handled brilliantly. Hopefully this will make an impact on the YA (young adult) community and get peope talking.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
This was a re-read due to the fact Sarah has just released a sequel to this - First Frost (reading it at the moment). Claire Waverley is a caterer, she knows just what ingredients to include for various purposes - remembrance, love, foresight, healing, etc. When her sister Sydney returns to the Waverley house after escaping an abusive relationship, the two sisters begin to help each other heal and enjoy life. Love this book so much!

I'm trying to be more open this year and tackle some classic "must-read" books - this month was Dubliners by James Joyce.

Oh, Mr. Joyce. You are not for me. I didn't enjoy this in the slightest - I actually felt less intelligent the more that I read. I thought a lot of it was just a thinly veiled reference to "being trapped" whether it be by religious or political issues, and I didn't really like any of the characters. I know that this was written in a time where it was hard to express an opinion on politics or religion, so I understand why it was important, but I thought it was pompous, and to be honest - a lot of it went over my head. Should I go and prepare for my lynching?

Harry Potter
One of my reading resolutions this year was to re-read the Harry Potter series. In January, I read the first four.

There's no point in reviewing these individually, they are all 5-star books for me except The Chamber of Secrets. I still find it amazing that the entire Hogwarts world came from the imagination of one person, it's unbelievable. I adore the books, and I had to stop myself from racing through the series in order to make it last longer.

Finally Finished
I had been slogging through this book since November, and I finally just gave up and raced ahead in January.

I had high hopes for US by David Nicholls, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. I found the protagonist, Douglas, inherently boring. I couldn't fathom why his wife ever married him in the first place, they were woefully unsuited. His son needed a lesson in respect and a kick up the bum. There were more art references in here than there were in The Goldfinch, and by the end of the book I not only wanted Connie to leave, I wanted her to run screaming. I skimmed a huge chunk of this - but there's a synopsis in one of the chapters near the end where Douglas is musing on everything that has happened since the night his wife told him she was leaving him. I gave this everything I could, but I just couldn't wait to get rid of it.

So - that's January done and dusted! See you in February!