Monday, March 30, 2015

Glossybox March 2015


This is the third Glossybox of 2015 - already!

In this month's box, there were six products - three full sizes and three half sizes. The theme for March is "Step Into Spring". 

Now I'm not getting the theme here - it doesn't look very Spring-like at all, but we'll have a look at the individual items.

Naobay Moisturizing Peeling - full size £13.71/€18.74
Moisturizing peeling WHAT? If I hadn't read the little card in the box and then googled, I wouldn't have a clue what this was. There are no instructions or ingredients listed on the tube, which is surprising given this is a full size. This was the big ticket item in the March box, the one that was previewed last month. Apparently, this is a peeling facial milk that should be applied to damp skin and gently massaged. I know too little about it to get excited and therefore won't be putting it on my face. Still not actually sure what it is. An exfoliator? A polisher? A peeler? Not a clue. How long do you leave it on for? Should you use moisturizer afterwards? How often can it be used? Instructions, folks. Plenty of room on the tube. Yes, it has a very nice wooden lid, but I couldn't give a shite what the lid is made from, when I DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

Essence Lash Princess Mascara - full size £3.30/€4.09
I like Essence mascaras (they have one in a silver squeezy tube that's fantastic) but I hadn't tried this. I'll show you the "cobra-shaped" wand and a swatch first, then tell you what I think.

Two coats of Lash Princess vs no mascara:

I didn't like this. At all. It will take a close-up to show you why:

I found the wand an awkward shape to work with, every time I tried to get in to the base of my lashes I hit my eyelid, resulting in that black mascara goop on top and bottom eyelids. The minute I put the second coat on it stuck my lashes together - the wand was heavily loaded with product, you can see on my top lashes how thick that is after just two coats. There's only one coat on the bottom lashes, and while they are blacker and longer (and look fine from a distance), check out that fallout under my eye. I seem to be very much in the minority on this one - I have read several great reviews (including Cindy's one here in which her lashes look fantastic) but this just isn't for me.

Dove Advanced Hair Series Youthful Vitality Shampoo & Conditioner - Sample Sizes, 50ml - approx. £1.20/€1.64 each
AGH. No. I don't like hair samples in beauty boxes. Granted, these are better than single use sachets, but hair care is such a personal thing. I'm not mad about Dove as a hair brand - just from my own experience - but I'll pass these on to a family member who travels a lot, they're a great size for a weekend away.

Emite Micronized Eye Shadow in "Nect" - Sample Size, 1.48g - approx £7.10/€9.71
This is nice - buttery soft, neutral, oil-free, and very wearable. It's not shimmery, it could actually be used as a highlighter too, it's a really nice shade from the Swedish brand Emite. Micronized just means that it's very finely milled, and very highly pigmented due to the process the brand use.

This is nice, I will use it. I think this was the alternate item for those of us who didn't get a nail polish in the box.

Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm - Berry Tint. Full Size, £4.49/€6.14
Speaking of alternate items, some people got a Sleek Pout Paint. I got a Carmex. I haven't used Carmex in years, I was happy to see that this was in a tube rather than a pot. It has a subtle berry tint:

HOWEVER. Despite containing "superfood" ingredients like Vitamin E, Aloe, and Shea Butter, it also contains menthol, which overpowers every other ingredient to give a tingly feeling - responsible, I'd wager, for that "lip enhancing effect" mentioned on the card in the box. I try to stay as far away from menthol as possible when it comes to lip products, mainly because by the time the product wears off, my lips feel dryer than they were initially.

Overall, maybe I'm just a grumpy nitpicky bitch, but I didn't enjoy this box at all. The only thing I will use is the eyeshadow, and even that's just a neutral pigmented eyeshadow, nothing special. This is the first box out of three that I've been disappointed with, so we're still 2-1 up - but if the next one is as bad as this, I'll be seriously rethinking my rolling subscription.

Total Price Including Delivery: £13.25/€18.11

Total Value: £30.69/€41.96

Verdict: Poor

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rebecca Minkoff & Essie - Flowerista Spring 2015 Collection Swatches


I was delighted to hear that Rebecca Minkoff has been appointed as Essie's Global Colour Designer. If her bags are anything to go by, this is really exciting news for the nail polish world.

The Rebecca/Essie collab kicks off this Spring with the Flowerista Collection, a range of six colourful shades to take you into Spring with a bang.

I have five of them here to show you - I didn't buy the sixth colour because it wasn't included in the miniature set. I didn't want to buy the full size because I knew I'd never wear it, so "I'm getting it for the blog" wasn't going to work, unfortunately. I'll talk about the missing colour in a minute, but for now - here are the ones I have. As usual, I bought them from Beautyzone2007.

All these swatches show a bottle shot from the Essie website, plus an indoor swatch, then an outdoor swatch. All pictures show two coats, no topcoat. I had no application problems with any of them. All polishes are cream formulas.

First up is Garden Variety, a dark teal.

Next, Blossom Dandy, a mint creme.

Thirdly, Flowerista, a fuschia/plum.

Next is Perennial Chic, described as "a neutral peach brown accented by creme rose highlights".

Finally, I have Petal Pushers, a slate grey.

The shade I didn't get is this one, Picked Perfect, described as "caramel brown mixed with a touch of red-violet" - I've seen swatches of this and it just doesn't look like something that would suit me, so I left it.

It's a really pretty collection, I love that a grey was included. Grey is a great colour for Springtime, especially when it leans towards lilac like this shade does.

The colours compliment each other really well - they mix n match perfectly. A few dabs of the other colours over a base gives a great accent nail.

The mint shade, Blossom Dandy, reminds me of several other creams. The teal shade, Garden Variety, reminds me of several other teals. I dug out a couple of other polishes in the same family and did a quick swatch:

L-R: Essie Garden Variety; Essie Naughty Nautical; Barry M Blue Moon; Essie Blossom Dandy; China Glaze For Audrey; Barry M Turquoise; Revlon Full House. Unfortunately I don't own Essie's Mint Candy Apple to compare it to Blossom Dandy, but it's definitely not a million miles away.

Overall I'm happy with the shades I purchased - I would have been happy with a miniature size of Garden Variety but as it wasn't included in the minis, I didn't mind buying the full size. I do think that I'll keep buying miniatures in future, the Essie ones give good bang for their buck compared to some other brands (you know-P.I. who I'm talking about).

The Flowerista Collection, the first one by Rebecca Minkoff, is available now at Boots and other pharmacies nationwide.

Essie don't ask me to review for them, I do it because I love the brand and I get SO excited when a new collection comes out. I bought all polishes in this post myself. And the ones from the 2015 Suite Retreat collection that I'm waiting patiently for the postman to bring me.

Do you know what would have been a great gift with purchase? A Rebecca Minkoff bag. I can dream........

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review: The Lake by Sheena Lambert

Book provided for consideration of review. As always, I'll give a fair and honest opinion.


Recently, I was contacted by author Sheena Lambert to see if I'd be interested in reading her latest book. The Lake, published under the Killer Reads imprint at Harper Collins, sounded right up my street so I accepted.


Set over the course of an All-Ireland weekend in a small village in Ireland in 1975, The Lake is a crime/mystery novel. In the small village of Crumm where nothing really ever happens, Peggy Casey is responsible for running the family bar. Her siblings are off doing their own thing - flamboyant brother Jerome seems to be more at home in Dublin, brother Hugh is working in London, and sister Carla is too busy causing trouble to help out regularly.

The main excitement in the village seems to be the possiblity of being able to watch the match on a colour television in Caseys - until a body is found on the shore of a local man-made lake. Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is called down from Dublin to assist young Garda Michael O'Dowd with his enquiries, but although the locals are willing to help Frank - nobody seems to know anything about the identity of the person who died.

However - one person knows - and if the truth comes out, it will have a devastating effect on one Crumm resident.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The author could have gone down a very predictable route with Frank and Peggy, but she didn't. The mystery was given a satisfactory ending, and it was sad and touching in parts. I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the book, the setting of the Irish family pub isn't one I have come across before, and it was well written. It brought to mind the old smells of pool chalk, beermats and smoke - it was really atmospheric and all the characters were well written.

I liked Jerome a lot, I would have liked a bit more about him. I'd actually like a bit more on all of the characters - my only quibble with the book would be that it was too short, I seemed to race through it and I'd love another book featuring the same characters.

I'd be happy to recommend this, particularly if you're looking for something to read over a weekend or something to take on holiday. Despite the presence of death, it's not scary and it couldn't be described as gruesome - there was only one part with the pathologist that I found made me a bit squeamish but it wasn't overdone.

A really good read - it's out on March 19th, you can pre-order it for Kindle now here on Amazon, it's very reasonably priced and will also be available in paperback form.

I really liked the author's writing style, I've actually just bought her previous book on Kindle based on how much I liked this one. I'm delighted to have discovered another great female Irish author, and I'm really thankful to the author and publisher for getting in touch.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Books I Read in February


In January, I read 17 books. In February, I most definitely did not. I usually read at night, and there were a few nights over the past month where I just had zero energy and went to bed sans kindle.

I got through 12 last month, which puts me well on track for my book challenges.

No galleys or review books this month, all bought and paid for with my own moolah, bar one Christmas gift.

Up first - said Christmas gift:

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes
This is the kind of book that I can leave on the kitchen table and dip in and out of. It's a beautiful book - it's a small thick hardback with an almost linen-like texture. It's just a pretty book. The pages are packed with words, not filled with filler pictures. Sali gives frank advice and chats about beauty and skincare as if you were meeting a friend for a chat about it. "Women have come home, time and time again, having spent the cost of a decent babysitter on an unwearable foundation that suits no one but an earthenware tagine." I don't know much about Sali, I wasn't aware of her before the book, but she came across as warm, honest and funny. I liked this a lot and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in makeup or skincare. I wish this had been around in the Panstick days.

Book Club Picks
This month, Rick O'Shea chose two Sci-Fi books as his February book club choices.

Wool by Hugh Howey
The first in a trilogy, Wool is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a distant future. Something terrible has happened to the world, nothing is out there but grey skies and the bodies of those who were sent out to "clean" - people now live in a big underground Silo, and see the outside world through cameras and a big screen. Speaking about the outside or expressing a desire to explore the old world is forbidden, and those who break the rules are given what they want - they're sent outside. They are instructed to clean the lenses, nobody knows why they always go through with it and nobody has ever refused to clean. Until now.

I can't even explain how excited I am about this trilogy - I devoured this book, downloaded the graphic novel, devoured that, bought the two sequels, devoured the second one, now can't wait to read the third but am afraid to because it will be over. Does that make sense? Just read it. It is brilliant. It's not standard Sci-Fi fare, it's very much character driven and Howey is a magnificent writer. I gasped out loud more than once while reading.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Written after the Second World War, this is another post-apocalyptic novel about a catastrophic event that wipes the majority of humanity out. Those who are not affected are left to maintain some kind of order and to survive. Their greatest adversaries (apart from each other) are the Triffids - enormous plants with the ability to walk and communicate with each other. As Mrs. Weasley said - "Never trust anything that thinks for itself when you can't see where it keeps its brain". Too right.

I was glad this was chosen for book club - I don't think I would have gone near it otherwise. It was a great book, really enjoyable and full of good strong characters.


Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr
I'm not very familiar with Tanya, I've watched a few of her videos and read a bit of her blog but I wouldn't be a superfan. I pre-ordered this book on amazon (WHY?!), I thought it looked pretty and was interested to read a book by a blogger. It was pretty, it was a lovely coffee table book - if you own a coffee table aged fifteen. At 31, I took absolutely nothing from it and I felt ancient reading her tips and tricks. It was a very lovely, sweet book but definitely not for me. Perfect for a younger sibling.

Nothing But the Truth - My Story by Vicky Pattison (Ghostwriter: Jordan Paramor)
Ahh, trust Vicky to bring the gossip! I love Geordie Shore, and this was brilliant. It had loads of behind-the-scenes gossip, Vicky came across as honest and down-to-earth, and was frank about the not-so-nice aspects of her personality - and the not-so-nice aspects of the show. Some of the manipulation surrounding her and Ricci's relationship (and in particular, their engagement) was just jaw dropping and left me wondering why anybody would want to star in a reality TV show. If you're not a fan of Vicky, this definitely won't change that, but it was entertaining and a good read. Much, much better than Holly's book.

Popular: A Memoir. Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
At the time of writing, Maya was fifteen years old. Her father gave her an old copy of "Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide" that he found at a charity shop (they say thrift store, I say charity shop, potato/pot......ato). Maya's mother jokingly suggested that Maya should follow Betty's rules for acquiring the most elusive of things - popularity.  Considering herself to be a social outcast, Maya applied every scrap of advice in the book and wrote about the effects. Bearing in mind that Betty wrote the book in 1951, Maya ends up doing some pretty strange things - we're talking hats, pearls and girdles -  but she learns some really valuable lessons about teenagers and about why people behave the way they do. I ADORED this book. It made me laugh, it made me bawl, it made me happy that there are young people out there like Maya who aren't afraid to step outside their comfort zone for the greater good. This should be compulsory reading for 15 year olds.

Light Reads

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
A sort-of sequel to one of my favourite Sarah Addison Allen books, Garden Spells, this also works as a standalone novel. It revisits the magical Waverley sisters, who have special gifts. Set ten years after the first book, fans will relish finding out what happened to their favourite characters. The Waverley sisters are happy - until one of them has a crisis of identity and begins to doubt herself. Throw a mysterious old man into the mix and there could be trouble for one of the girls - who is he, and why is he there? This won't go to the top of my must-read list like Garden Spells, but it was great to revisit the characters. 

The Man Who Can't Be Moved by Tilly Tennant
You're already singing it, aren't you? As was I for the duration of the book. Inspired by the song of the same name, and pretty much with the same storyline, this is a book about a man who tries to win back his ex-girlfriend by camping out on the corner of the street where they first met. Journalist Ellie is sent to cover the story, and gets a little too involved trying to get the pair back together while also acting as a go-between for her estranged parents and a help to her terminally ill Aunt.

This was a pleasant read, I enjoyed Tilly's other book Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn so that's why I picked this up. It was an ideal Sunday afternoon read - not too taxing, bit predictable, but with just enough in there to keep me reading. An ideal holiday or hospital book. 


The Book of You by Claire Kendal
Well, this was scary. Clarissa is being harrassed by her work colleage, Rafe. He appears to know her every movement and is obsessed with her. She is frightened by him, and he is unwavering in his attempt to get her to return his affections. When she gets called for Jury duty on what looks like it's going to be a pretty long case, she is overjoyed - weeks away from Rafe. But Rafe won't stand for that, and he won't take no for an answer. As Clarissa begins to draw disturbing parallels between her situation and the case in Court, she realises that Rafe may be more dangerous than she ever thought.

I drew similarities between this and Fifty Shades of Grey in this post - because it really reminded me of the franchise. Rafe was incredibly scary, he was completely obsessed with Clarissa, a real Christian Grey. I actually couldn't read this at night, I had to read it during the day. Excellent writing.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
I downloaded this after reading Cat's review. Mia is missing - but we don't get to hear her point of view. Instead, this story goes back and forth, from before Mia has been abducted to after she has been found, and is told from the viewpoint of her mother, her abductor, and the Detective investigating the case. I thought it was a little too long in parts, it could have been shorter, but it was a pretty good read. Anything that keeps me thinking "I'll just go one more chapter" after 12am is worth a shot!

Finally, I went back to the whole Wool universe with these:

Hugh Howey's Wool: The Graphic Novel by Palmiotti/Gray/Broxton
A graphic novel adaptation of Wool for kindle, this was the first time I'd read anything like this in a digital format. To be honest, I'm not a fan - I prefer to have a physical comic or graphic novel in my hands, because the scenes flow better on paper. Regardless, this was a fine adaptation and works really well as a companion to the novel. There's far too much left out for it to work as a standalone thing, I wouldn't recommend it if you haven't read the book. 

Shift (The Wool Saga #2) by Hugh Howey
This isn't a continuation of Wool. It's a prequel. It comprises three parts - first shift, second shift, and third shift. We get to see why and how the Silo was built, what happened to cause uprisings and downfalls, and get inside the head of someone who was integral in the initial building of the Silo. But did he know what he was building? This takes us right up to the end of Wool, and I am excited to read Dust knowing the back story. Brilliant, just bloody brilliant. 

And there we have it - I accumulated a few more books in February - unplanned, but that Amazon 3 for £10 combined with the one-click is too easy to get lost in. Then you get to £20 and think "oh another one will get me free shipping" and this happens:

On to March!

What are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?