Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Baby Box | Review

As a midwife, I'm often sent interesting press releases about products that can help new parents or parents to be and I don't usually talk about them here or on my social media (it's not what my blog is about, in spite of the name!), unless I feel they're really innovative or something you would all like to read about. 
Step forward, The Baby Box!
This is an Irish company you can only find online (HERE) that provides complete new-born baby gift packages, full of essential and luxury items for babies for their first 9 months, and an ideal gift for new parents to get them off to a great start. 
You can choose from a variety of sizes and prices with a full 10 versions of the Baby Box available, ranging from €25 to €250 and all with free delivery.

The Baby Box

So far, so great, right? Well, I've even better news because for every box sold, 10 children have been vaccinated from measles, polio and tetanus. The Baby Box is celebrating their first year in business and simultaneously are celebrating the milestone of vaccinating 10, 000 children from the developing world in partnership with UNICEF. That's pretty amazing and when I heard that, I had to share that with everyone- I personally spend a fair amount on baby presents for friends of ours and if I could be doing some good for families in need at the same time, I would have been all over this, long before now! Such a great idea!

The Baby Box

The concept of The Baby Box originates from Finland, where they have drastically reduced their infant mortality rates through providing "maternity packages"- essential items for the first 9 months of a child's life, otherwise known as The Baby Box! 

Business aside, you probably want to know what's in it!
Quite a staggering amount actually:

The Baby Box

Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel (great to pop in your changing bag for when you're on the go), a cuddly elephant toy (squee!), 2 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddles (underneath the elephant! These always come in handy and you can never have enough of them).

The Baby Box

Burt's Bees Getting Started Kit, including Baby Shampoo, Baby Lotion, Nourishing Baby Oil, Diaper ointment and Buttermilk Soap (I love everything Burt's Bees related- the Mummy Bee set is lovely too), Tommee Tippee Complete Care Baby Health & Grooming Kit and a packet of Water Wipes.

The Baby Box

Tommee Tippee soothers, BabyKing 100% Pure Cotton Giant Pads (great for cleaning bums!), Sudocrem (the original and best.. Is there any house in Ireland without a pot of this I wonder?!), a 100% Cotton Hooded Towel and 100% Cotton Luxury Bath Robe (imagine how snug the baba wearing this will be after his or her bath!)

The Baby Box

A pack of Pampers New Baby Nappies and a bag of Irish Breeze Extra Large Cotton Balls.

The Baby Box

I love this, it's so unbelievably soft. 100% Cotton Luxury Blanket.

The Baby Box

A box full of gorgeously soft baby clothes in beautiful gender neutral prints (no pink or blue here so you can give them without worry!), including 3 vests, 2 sleep suits, 2 hats and 2 bibs, all 100% cotton. 

The Baby Box

You'll also be interested to know that you can use this particular box itself as baby's first crib, as it contains a mattress that conforms with top international safety standards for crib and cradle safety. If you already have a crib you can use this as a second one for staying in grandparents/siblings houses, or to have somewhere else in your own house, like downstairs. 
The box is strong and sturdy and easy to move. It's recommended you place it on a flat, horizontal surface and once baby is able to sit up, kneel or pull itself up, you shouldn't use it anymore. So handy!

The Baby Box

It also comes with its own 100% cotton fitted sheet and the mattress cover is machine washable
This fella is €250 but as you can see, everything you need is in there. If you think how mach baby grows alone cost, it's good value! 
I feel this would be a really lovely gift for first time parents, especially if it's a family member or a close friend that you want to treat and help out with the cost for their upcoming transition to being parents, which let's face it, can be incredibly expensive. If I had to choose another option from the site to give as a gift, it'd be the Baby Bath Kit, which has everything you need to bath your little one. 
Very cute!

The Baby Box haven't paid me to talk about this, they sent me the box to see what I thought and I really love both the concept of the gift and the charitable message behind this company. 

If you want to read more about the ethos behind the company, you can have a look HERE.

What do you think of The Baby Box?
Is this something you'd buy for a loved one?
To the comments!
XX


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Recently Read | April & May

As always, I'm at least a month behind with this but it's my predictable haphazardness that keeps bringing you back, right?
Anyway, I read lots of great books over the last few months, some of which were even on my Summer 2017 book suggestions list (read more about that HERE).
As an aside, this is the first book round up post in ages that's had so many male authors in it- which is weird because it's not something I specifically arrange that way, it just so happened that I read three male authors recently. I think there's just more female authors producing really high quality thrillers etc. lately, which can only be a good thing!


The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
I had vaguely heard about this psychological thriller last year but didn't get around to picking it up, until I got it for 99p on Kindle a couple of months ago. Ted Severson's flight is delayed so while he waits, he chats up a beautiful woman, Lily, at the airport bar. A couple of martinis in, he reveals to her that he knows his wife is cheating on him and he half jokes that he should really kill her off. Lily, very seriously, suggests that he do just that, and that she can help him. 
I was obsessed with this book. 
I started reading it and straight away, got a kind of 70's, Ira Levin vibe from it, which is a big deal for me, as I love a lot of Ira's books*. It has of course drawn comparisons to Gone Girl, because any and every psychological thriller that has been released in the last four years has been given that somewhat dubious link ( I liked Gone Girl but I don't think it's always a fair comparison). There's many levels to this book; Lily is not your typical female protagonist, her back story is fully explored and is fascinating and yes, there are lots of unexpected twists and turns in here. I read it in two days and I couldn't put it down. 

*Stepford Wives, A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary's Baby.

The Power by Naomi Alderman
This was a book club choice, my choice actually as I was going for a bit of a feminist dystopian theme (considering everyone has read Margaret Atwood & Louise O'Neill, this was a newer option, I felt). Himself got me this for Christmas and when I read the blurb in the back I actually exclaimed "OH! Oh wow!" several times, so excited was I at the concept, which is; young girls around the world wake up one day with a kind of electric power in their bodies that they can use to control and inflict pain on others (men in particular). They can teach older women how to wake up the power within them too and so, out of nowhere, the power balance between the sexes completely shifts. The book starts off really promisingly; we're introduced to a handful of characters that stay with us for the book: Roxy, a tough British teenager and the daughter of a gangster, Allie, a mixed race teenager who runs away from her foster home after years of abuse, Margot, a middle-aged woman who develops the power and also happens to be a mayor of an American city and Tunde, a young Nigerian man with ambitions of becoming a journalist who sees this power shift and it's unfolding impact as the break he needs. To start with, I enjoyed all of their back stories. I could appreciate the way in which the author used shocking scenarios of violence against men to highlight how patriarchal and misogynistic our society currently is but truthfully, that got old fast and violence for the sake of violence, particularly sexual violence, is never a pleasant read. In this case, I mostly felt like it wasn't wholly necessary either. There was also a huge emphasis on religion, which became very monotonous to read and overall I really felt like this was a brilliant concept that was unfortunately, poorly executed. 

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
I read this while we were in Crete and it was a great beach read, being a quick paced psychological thriller that I didn't want to put down. I've read all of Erin Kelly's books and bar one, I've enjoyed all of them. In this one, we're introduced to what seems like a normal thirty-something year old married couple living in the UK. Kit is an eclipse enthusiast and travels to whereever one is anticipated. He's packing to go see one while Laura stays at home, pregnant with their twins. She's abnormally anxious about his departure, given that she has an element of agoraphobia due to an incident from their past. Years previously she witnessed a sexual assault and became a star witness in the case. This one incident brought two potentially dangerous people into their lives- the accused and the victim. But which one should they really be worried about and will Laura be safe on her own? I mean, of course she's not, that's the whole point but getting to her realisation of the truth via flashbacks results in an intricate but absorbing plot that teaches you not to take everything you read at face value.
*This was an ARC from Netgalley, thanks so much Netgalley!



Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
This was another book club read and a good choice as there was plenty to discuss. Days Without End begins with a 17 year old Irish immigrant, Thomas McNulty, who having fled the Great Famine that killed his family, begins a new life in America. He finds a companion in another young lad, John Cole and together they take on jobs in a bar before signing up to the army together. At their tender age they find themselves brutally murdering Native Americans in The Indian Wars and later they also fight in The Civil War. Somehow and in spite of all the horrors they've inflicted and endured themselves, they seek to create a life together away from it all with a young Sioux girl they adopt. The story is narrated by Thomas and his own poor grasp of the English language makes it feel all the more authentic- it's like you've found a diary from the 1850's. The love story in the book is romantic and mundane in the way that everyday love is, which I thought was well done and again, afforded the story a feeling of authenticity. The description of the scenery was beautiful, in sharp contrast to that of the war scenes, which were bloody and gruesome. I'm not sure who I would specifically recommend this to. I can't say I enjoyed it but I also didn't not enjoy it. It was a very different style of book for me and I'm glad I read it because it was completely out of my comfort zone.  

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Again, a book club read but I had actually bought this book last year and had been meaning to read it since. Paul Kalanithi was a talented neurosurgeon who was near the end of his training when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. Having had a lifelong wish to write a book, he decided to put down onto paper his experiences of transitioning from being a health care professional to that of a patient, and a patient dealing with cancer at that. Paul had previously studied English and philosophy in college before he decided to retrain to be a doctor so his writing is quite beautiful; thoughtful and introspective. I identified so strongly with him for so much of this book, having been seriously unwell myself before and so it felt almost like reading my own thoughts at times, albeit far more eloquently put! The book ends with an afterword from his wife, which made me cry like a baby but I really feel like the lasting impact from this book should be from Paul himself. If I could, I would give this book to every health care professional I know. It's like a handbook for how to be a better doctor, nurse, midwife, care attendant, physio etc etc. Having said that, there's something in here for everyone; health care professional or not. I really loved it- it's definitely a book I'll return to in the future. 

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
I had read and loved Life After Life and so I had high hopes for this, not exactly a sequel but a look at another character's storyline. All of the focus in Life After Life is on Ursula, a character I loved and suffered through her various death scenes in the hopes that one of her lives would see everything going right for her. A God in Ruins follows her beloved brother Teddy's life. Teddy was an RAF bomber pilot and in later years, a husband and father. I'm sorry to say that I just didn't get on with this. I liked Teddy's character and enjoyed all of the WW2 flashbacks but I greatly struggled through the chapters about Teddy's daughter and grandchildren who were really the worst characters ever. I only got just over halfway through and gave up and I never do that! I kind of figured that unlike Ursula, I won't get the chance to relive this life so I may as well save myself the time and effort!


Bridget Jones's Baby; The Diaries by Helen Fielding
If like me you have read all of the Bridget Jones books, including the godawful Mad About The Boy, then you will want to pick this one up and use it as a palette cleanser for the aforementioned book. This is Bridget back to her best- funny, inappropriate, charming and just a little bit incapable. Good news is that both Mark D'Arcy and Daniel Cleaver are also back, as are all of Bridget's madcap friends and parents. This is one you can read in a day and is extremely light but sometimes that's just what you need!

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
I read this one on a five hour flight and could barely put it down; even for tea and an in-flight magazine, as I previously mentioned. I'm mentioning it again cause that's a big deal for me, OK?! The book begins with fifteen year old Lane Roanoke having to move to her wealthy grandparents sprawling country estate in Kansas following her mother's suicide. When Lane arrives, her cousin Allegra, also fifteen, conversationally tells her that 
"Roanoke girls don't last long here around here. In the end we either run or die". 
Cut forward to eleven years later and Lane has escaped to Los Angeles when she gets a call pulling her back; Allegra has gone missing. The book veers between flashbacks to that Summer when the girls were fifteen and to the present where Lane tries to figure out what happened to her cousin. This is an extremely atmospheric book; it's stiflingly hot, sticky and muggy. The town in Kansas where they live is vividly described and I felt like I was there throughout. It's also quite a dark and twisted story and I should give a trigger warning for incest and abuse- even that is sensitively handled and is never graphically described. It's almost like a YA novel within a thriller/mystery. I really loved it. It's hard to like the main protagonist at times but I still did and still worried for her the whole way through. This probably won't be for everyone but it felt very fresh and different to me and I would definitely recommend it. 

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus
This was an ARC from Netgalley, so thank you kindly for that! I had heard a bit about this one and then when I read the blurb and saw the cover, I had to request it. 
Five students are in detention. They themselves even comment on what a cliché "Breakfast Club" group they make; there's the A student, the jock, the homecoming princess, the bad boy delinquent and the misfit. One of them is going to die in detention that day but which one, who did it and why? This was a great read- fast paced and entertaining, a bit like a combination of the aforementioned Breakfast Club, with a bit of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars thrown in for good measure. Considering I liked all of those, this is an ideal read for me, although granted, that's not everyone's cup of tea! I still love teen drama, even though I'm in my thirties and I'm totally cool with that as it's pure escapism, as all good books/TV should be. 
I felt like all of the characters in this were well developed and made me want to root for them, even if I didn't always know the motivations for their actions. I also didn't guess the end, which makes me very happy with a book like this! This is another great Summer read- pop it in your beach bag and you'll find yourself glued to it by the pool with your Pīna Colada. 


That's all for now but obviously I'm already well into my June reads which will be up next month, along with July's. 
Tell me though, have you read any of these?
Do you have any of them on your Summer reading list?
And lastly, what are you reading right now?!
To the comments!
XX

Monday, 5 June 2017

Skincare Shakeup #1

I try so many different skincare products that it occurred to me that these posts shouldn't be titled "New Skincare" as they usually are, but rather "Skincare Shakeup", as often times, it's products I already have in my stash, they just haven't had their chance to shine yet (i.e, they haven't been near my face yet). 

Also, not all of these or any of the products in these posts are "new", sure Eight Hour Cream has been knocking around for donkey's years, as has The Body Shop's Vitamin E range. 

This is my most recent shakeup, I'm sure I'll be moving on from some of these soon, whereas others may be added to the permanent collection. It's like The X Factor, but somehow, more entertaining. This style of post also means that I don't have to do individual reviews on everything I try. If I really like it and I think it warrants more attention, I will of course write a more in-depth review, otherwise so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye etc. 


You probably know the deal with Alpha H Liquid Gold by now but if not, it's a chemical exfoliant that removes dead skin cells from your face, via a few drops on a cotton pad, swept across your skin, a couple of times a week. Chemical exfoliants have been the big thing for the last couple of years as it's been decided that those scrubby grainy exfoliators of old were too rough. Still, if you're delicate in nature you might want to avoid using this too often and never before stepping out into the sun as it exposes your skin even further to harmful UVA & UVB rays. So far, I think I prefer this to Pixi Glow Tonic (another blogger fave) but I'll report back.

I got these two Fresh products in Sephora last year; both were gifts thanks to my Sephora card but I'm only now trying them out. On the bottom is a Rose Face Mask, infused with real rose petals to hydrate and tone. I've used this once, applied to cleansed skin for 10 minutes and then washed off. I didn't notice a huge difference but this probably requires a few more uses to be sure.
The Soy Face Cleanser on top of it is for all skin types, rich in amino acids to gently cleanse both face and eyes. This is one that you massage on and then rinse off, it's a runny gel that actually does work well on all make up, including eyes but I'm always a bit iffy about these fellas as I enjoy the use of a muslin cloth- it feels like a better cleanse. So I've been using one with it anyway and it works well! This is also well suited as a second cleanser. You could use a micellar water first to get off the most of the make up (including difficult to remove mascara) and then use this to cleanse your actual skin, sans foundation etc.

Bryt Skincare are new to Ireland and have a whole range of products, suitable for every skin type. I was sent the Calm Serum to try out, which is for oily to combination skin. I have dry skin but I'm willing to give anything a go! I've been using this pre my moisturiser and primer in the mornings, during warm weather like we've been having, I find I do need a bit more help around my T-zone (mostly my nose) for foundation to stay in place. Bryt claims this serum is absorbent and regulates the sebum levels in the skin but that it also balances- it has oils in it too so you're not stripping your skin of your natural oils, rather controlling them. If you have oily skin, this would be a great option, as it can be hard to find serums for oily/combination skin types. 

Of course, I've tried the famous Eight Hour Cream from Elizabeth Arden before but that was many years ago and then I received a present at Christmas of an Eight Hour Cream gift set; hand cream, lip balm, body oil and a full size of the original magic cream itself. The latter is one of those weird products that no one ever really knows what to do with- I use it on dry patches like my elbows, shins and lips. It really does work, and feels almost like a medicated product. I wouldn't be using it daily but it's a nice one to have in case of emergency. The hand cream has been completely taken over by Himself, who has very dry hands. He's liking it, I may at some point try it myself also. 

The Body Shop Vitamin E Night Cream is going well. I've already used up the day cream counterpart to this, which I liked too but if I was buying a full size of either, it would be this fella. It's thicker than the day cream but sinks in nicely, smells amazing and works well for dry skin, although it is suitable for all skin types. 

Also from The Body Shop is the Camomile Gentle Eye Make Up Remover. I have sensitive eyes and am weird about eye make up removers anyway but I brought this on holiday with me and it did sting me, pretty much every time I used it. Now, that could well be just me but be wary, is all I'm saying.

And that is the lot for my current skincare shakeup. Are you using any of these?
Have you tried any of them?
To the comments!
XX


*This post features item/s that were kindly sent to me to review. I was not paid to do so and as always, all opinions are my own!



Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Summer Reads 2017

So. You may as we speak be planning a holiday, some relaxation by a pool or the sea somewhere gloriously warm and exotic and you may be imagining yourself doing that with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.

Summer reads 2017

In order to do that, you're gonna need some book suggestions and I as always, have your back.
Most of these are being released soon, which automatically makes them "Summer reads" and others have a storyline that is basically just all Summer, all the time. So you have options, is what I'm saying!

Personally, I love a good thriller when I'm on holidays, because I find if they're really good, they'll keep me gripped for the whole trip. 
To start then there's:


The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
This is the second novel from successful domestic noir author, B.A. Paris, after last year's hugely successful, Behind Closed Doors, which apparently everyone but me has read (it's on my kindle, I have yet to actually read it). Cass is driving home from a work party when she passes a woman sat in her car in a dark rural road in the middle of the woods, in a storm. None of that sounds good, right? Right. Cass drives on after her instincts tell her the same thing and she puts it out of her mind until she finds out the next day that the woman she saw was murdered. She's horrified by this news and continues to blame herself, while at the same time, she begins to have memory loss issues to accompany her guilt. Is it all in her mind or is someone watching her, who knows what she did?
I'm reading this one at the minute and it's flying along nicely; it pulled me in from the first paragraph and I'm really eager to see how the story develops. 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
Another second novel, this time from the author of Girl On The Train (find my review of that HERE. Spoiler alert, I was underwhelmed). At the start of the Summer, a vulnerable teenage girl is found dead at the bottom of a lake. A few months later, a single mother is found in the same dark waters. Their deaths dredge up secrets that have been hidden for a long time. I haven't read this one yet but it's ready to go on my Audible account and I'm willing to give it a try, in spite of my feelings for its predecessor!

Final Girls by Riley Sager
I read an advanced reader copy (ARC) of this a few months ago (full review HERE) and although it's not out 'til July, I'd advise you to keep an eye out for it. It's not the best written book of all time but I was utterly glued to it and could not put it down! A great thriller for a beach read, especially if you're a fan of thrillers/horrors. 


If thrillers aren't your thing but you still want a cracking good read, then try:


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Described as "a smart, warm, uplifting story of an out of the ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey, as she realises the only way to survive is to open her heart", this sounds like a fabulous book full of wonderful characters. I have this reserved in my local library and I can't wait to start it!

The Cows by Dawn O' Porter
I previously read and liked DOP's YA books so I was really excited to see she's released a book for adults! I've been listening to this for a few days now on Audible and I'm really liking it. The story follows three different women, leading three very different lives and how each finds their own, unique voice. Topics are explored that feel quite relatable for modern women; internet dating, being a single mum, trying to succeed in a male dominated industry, choosing not to have children, grief and loss. 

Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh
This is sitting in my to-be-read pile, staring at me and I really want to get started on it as it sounds just like my cup of tea! Set in 1950's colonial Kenya, young British woman Rachel returns to her fathers Kenyan farm, where she spent her childhood, to find all has changed. Her father has remarried a strange and intolerant woman, while the political climate in the country has grown strained and approaches boiling point. Throughout this, Rachel begins a covert relationship that society would not approve of and may cost her more than she bargained for. This sounds like the perfect historical fiction to while away a lazy Summer's afternoon with.


If that all sounds great but you want to read a book that involves very little mental expenditure on your part, then check out these YA novels that have caught my eye:


The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
I read this in the space of a five hour flight last month- I could not and would not put it down. I didn't even stop to look at the in-air shopping magazine and that's saying something! 
This isn't actually YA but the author has previously only written YA and this felt like that style to me, so I'm including it here, even if that is cheating. Ahem. 
Lane Roanoke is fifteen and her mother has just killed herself. Her wealthy grandparents, whom she's never met, take her in and so she goes to live on their sprawling Kansas country estate, where her cousin Allegra also lives. Allegra informs her that the Roanoke girls "never last long around here. We either run or we die". Creepy, right?
It is! And a great Summer read as it's permanently sweaty and boiling hot in the book, so you'll feel like you're right there with them!

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
It's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died and a year since their family trip to Rome. Even though their grief is still raw, the sisters decide to  return to Rome for the Summer for gelato, sun and new love interests. Of course, life is not that easy and Milly in particular must find her way back to the person she used to be. This is again, waiting for me on my Kindle. I requested an ARC of this because Italy, obviously but it also sounds like an ideal Summer read!

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
This is another ARC that I just read a couple of weeks ago and again, I could not put it down. It's The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars; a jock, a straight A student, a homecoming queen, a delinquent and a weirdo are in detention. One of them dies while there, but who did it? As the book goes on, it appears they all had a motive. I partly guessed the ending to this one but if you like to read something a little trashy and haven't gotten over a love of teen TV drama (raises hand), then this is the one for you!


Other options that I don't know enough about I'm going to include anyway:


The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.
I have this on my kindle, I haven't read it yet but it's been described as "the feel good novel of the year" so if that's your thing, go forth and read!


David Sedaris Theft by Finding. Diaries 1977-2002
I LOVE Davis Sedaris. He could read his grocery list aloud and I'd buy it. I've pre-ordered this on Audible for its release- you have to listen to him read his own books, it's the best way!

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
This is the second novel from the author of the zombie-tastic, The Girl With All the Gifts. This is not a sequel to that but the author has said that it "exists within the same universe". And that's all I know about that, except that I will of course, be reading this. 

I will be reviewing all of these in full (if I haven't already) right here but feel free to follow my progress over on Goodreads also! 


And that's all for now. 
Have any of these made your Summer reading list?
To the comments!
XX


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Summer Scents 2017

I am one of those people that has to change around their perfumes depending on the season. Some are perennial favourites, like this Chloe perfume for instance, or my all time love, Hypnotic Poison, which will always remind me of nights out, regardless of the time of year. Some though, are perfect just for Summer and so I've rounded up the three that I've found myself gravitating towards since April, when we first began to feel a slight shift in the weather. 


My sister gave me the Diptyque Baies Palet Perfumé as part of my Christmas present and although it is a stunning scent that I would easily wear throughout the year, in palette form, I felt it was better suited for Summer- the scent is so fresh and berry-ish that it straight away made me think of all the windows open in the house, blowing a breeze through the warmth but also, freshly washed clothes and gelato, for some reason. But then, I probably do think about gelato more than your average person does anyway. Because it's a room fragrance, this one is a bit of a cheat but I don't care, I love it. My house is gonna smell delightfully Summery, all, er, Summer long. 

Diptyque Baies Palet Perfumé

I was sent a bottle of White Musk L'eau from The Body Shop recently- this is a new release for Summer this year and is an updated version of the classic Body Shop fragrance, White Musk, which we all either had or constantly went into the store to spray all over ourselves back in the day. That said, when I smelt this, it in no way brought me back to the 90's and my tween years, in case you were hoping for a walk down memory lane. 
Yes, it has a hit of musk in there but it feels more like that's there to balance the fresh, floral that's there too. That means that if you like a light, feminine perfume but you don't like something too sweet, this is perfect for you. It's rather lovely.
Oh and look at that bottle. The Body Shop packaging is so sleek and refined, I love it. Perfect dressing table bottle.

White Musk L'eau The Body Shop

Lastly, is Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess. Every year, Estée Lauder releases this as a limited edition for the Summer. Up until now, I've always lusted after it but never actually bought it, until I was flying home from Crete and found the last remaining bottle on the duty free shelf for cheap. This is the Eau Fraîche Skinscent, rather than the Eau de Parfum, but it still lasts really well on my skin. This is the ultimate summer scent, in fact everyone who has met me when I've been wearing this has remarked that I smell like Summer. It's the combination of coconut milk, vanilla, bergamot, amber, jasmine and orange flower that does it. For me, that all translates to an instant hit of Summer- it smells like the sun on tanned skin, cocktails, sun lotion and long, warm evenings. I am obsessed. Now I want the Shimmery oil spray for hair & body and the illuminating powder gelee compact, which looks BEAUTIFUL. Swoon. 

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess

And that, is that.
Have you already got your perfect Summer scent yet?
Have you tried any of these
Are you also a Bronze Goddess addict or is it White musk all the way?
So many questions!
To the comments!
XX

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Secret Salma & NYX Nude Suede Shoes- the Perfect Combo!

When I blogged about Charlotte Tilbury's beloved lipstick Pillow Talk (HERE), I mentioned that I had first fallen into the nude lipstick loving ways by using this lipliner from NYX, Nude Suede Shoes, in combination with Secret Salma, one of the Hot Lips Lipsticks- created in collaboration with 12 women (this one is Salma Hayek), to raise money for a charity; Women for Women International

Charlotte Tilbury Secret Salma  NYX Nude Suede Shoes

 When these first came out, I swatched up a feckin storm in Brown Thomas to find the right shade for me. This is a deep-rose plum designed to bring out Salma's "beautiful brown eyes, adding instant sultry Latin sex appeal". Now, I don't have and never will have either brown eyes or sexy Latina sex appeal but somehow, this pink looks very nice on me indeed. In fact, if you head over to the website, you can see how this shade looks on a myriad of skin tones, which is quite cool. 

 NYX Nude Suede Shoes lip liner

The nude lip liner will pretty much work with any lipstick shade, including Pillow Talk so it's a good buy. This is actually my second one, after I lost my first one (it will now no doubt show up after I've bought another. It is probably at this very minute in the car, under a seat, next to an empty diet coke can).

Charlotte Tilbury Secret Salma

This is one of the Matte Revolution formula lipsticks, so expect a matte but with that super softness that CT has become known for- she calls it "cashmere-soft", due to the addition of orchid extract. I loved her Bronze and Glow palette but aside from that, I think lipsticks are what she really does best. If you're looking to treat yourself with something from the Tilbury counter, a lipstick is for sure the way to go. The formula itself is really lovely and super pigmented to boot plus, would you look at that packaging?! Beaut!

Charlotte Tilbury Secret Salma & NYX Nude Suede Shoes

As you can see, they aren't a perfect match for each other- there's much more brown in Nude Suede Shoes than there is in Secret Salma but there's also just enough pink and brown in both that they manage to work well together. 

Here they are on my face, more importantly:



What do you think?
Are you a Charlotte Tilbury fan?
I also have Amazing Grace, which deserves a blog outing too but for now, what other CT lippie do I "need"?! To the comments!
XX



Monday, 1 May 2017

Powder n' Pout; New Make Up Brushes You Need To Try!

Powder n' Pout is the brainchild of make up artist extraordinaire, Aisling Cunningham. Aisling hails from Co. Donegal, where she owns a hair and make up salon, and where Powder n' Pout was brought to life! I met Aisling recently where we chatted about the ethos behind the brand. 
I was saying about how back in the day, we used to apply our make up with our fingers (sometimes I still do for some things) or, God forbid, those horrible wedge sponges of doom. 
Realistically, you can spend as much or as little on make up as you want; there are some truly excellent budget brands around nowadays and equally, splashing out every now and then on something a little fancier is cool too. The bottom line though is that you need the right tools to apply it with. Aisling felt there was a big gap in the Irish beauty industry for make up brushes that are high quality but also affordable and so, she created Powder n' Pout.  

Powder n' Pout

I've had The Flawless 5 Makeup Brush Set, the Flat Contour P050 and the Fluffy Blender P310 to play around with for the last while. I couldn't find the Fluffy Blender when I went to take the photos and of course later on I discovered it at the bottom of my make up bag (#WorldsGreatestBeautyBlogger #BloggingGoals) so I apologise that it isn't featured in the photos but I'll tell you what I like about it and link to it on the website so you can have a look there!

Powder n' Pout

The Flawless 5 
The idea behind this set is that each brush is completely versatile- if you bring just these five with you travelling for instance, you should have everything you need to do your make up. The set is currently out of stock due to selling out completely in the sale but ordinarily you can find it HERE for €58 (€50 in the sale)
(From left to right in the photo);

The Angled Brush P120
Recommended use is for powder contouring, which along with blush and highlight, is my go-to contour brush at the minute. The taper of the brush will fit the shape of your face perfectly.

The Angled Liner P410
This can be used for eyeliner, eyebrow powder and lip liner. I've only used it for applying liner and a powder to my brows- I'm not mad into lining my lips. The bristles are really well packed into this so you get a firm hold for applying a straight line with- it's perfect!

The Bullet P325
This is for your smokey eye; it lets you work your shadow to the outer edge of your eye. I particularly love it for applying shadow to my under eye, I like a smokey, grungy look and because of how the brush is tapered upwards, it means you get the shadow just where you want it and not all down around your eye bags, like a panda. It's a must have for me. 

The Duo Tapered Powder P10.
I wish you could feel for yourself how soft this brush is, it's like stroking feathers across your face. This fella is a serious multi-tasker; use it to apply your primer, your liquid foundation, blush/bronzer or setting powder. Not all at once, obviously! I've mostly been using it for powder but I've also tried it for blusher and it blends outwards beautifully. Love it!!

The Duo Crease P245
Alright, so I know I've said you NEED all the others for various things, but you NEED this one for blending out your smokey eye, right into the crease. At the most, you need about three circular movements and hey presto, you're blended! You can also use this one for applying concealer to the delicate under eye skin.

Powder n' Pout

The Flat Contour P050 
If you love your contouring, this is the one for you. 
Unsurprisingly, it's a completely flat, densely packed brush with ultra fine synthetic hair. Because of it's flat shape, it sits nicely underneath your cheekbones, your jawline and around tricky spots like your nose and mouth. Good news is that it can be used with liquids, creams, or pressed/loose bronzing powders. This is a lovely brush to use, really comfortable on the skin but effectively transfers the product to right where you need it. It's €17, HERE

The Fluffy Blender P310
Again, this does exactly what is says on the tin. It'll blend and shade out to perfection. This is another brush that's tapered to the perfect size- it makes blending super easy. I love a good fluffy brush. You can find that HERE for only €8!!


And that is that. I wasn't paid for this review, I just love trying really good quality Irish products and I think it's important to share them when I find them!

Have you tried Powder n' Pout?
If you could only use one makeup brush for the rest of your life, which one would it be?! (cruel question, I know) 
To the comments!
XX

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Recently Read: February and March

Sure look, I know, it's almost the end of April but better late than never, as always! I'm on track with my 60 books for the year goal and for the most part, I'm loving everything I've read so far. There are some truly excellent psychological thrillers out this year and over the last couple of years and some beautiful historical fiction. Here's what I read over February and March, not including A Man With One of Those Faces, which I reviewed HERE. 


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
This received a whole lot of hype when it was released at the start of the year. Its PR campaign used the hashtag #WTFThatEnding and so as you can imagine, I was pretty keen to see how it ends. Louise is a single mum and a secretary in a doctors clinic, generally bored with life with only her (extremely annoying) five year old son to give her life meaning. And so, she inadvertently starts an affair with one of the doctors she works with and also inadvertently becomes best friends with his wife, who obviously doesn't know about the affair…or does she? As the book progresses, the perfect marriage of her friend and lover appears less and less ideal as David seems to be controlling and brooding, while Adele seems fragile and weak. Bizarrely, Louise discovers that both she and Adele can astro-project, for Louise this often happens when she sleeps and she can't go very far but Adele seems to have mastered this supernatural skill. The plot thickens! OK, so there's a few red herrings in this one and most of the characters are terrible people who I found it hard to sympathise with. Louise is a bit of an eejit, truth be told and her child..I can't even explain how irritating he was and yes, I know he's a fictional five year old, I don't care. And that ending. Well, I know it annoyed a lot of people but I can honestly say that it completely floored me. There is literally NO way that you can guess this one so if you're looking for an unpredictable psychological thriller- this is it! #WTFThatEnding indeed!

The Trespasser by Tana French
I love Tana French, I've mentioned that several times before but her Dublin murder squad books have for the most part, all been excellent. This is number 6 in that series, I think? You don't need to read them in order but the previous book will feature the detective that's the main character in the next book in the series. If that makes sense. Here, Antoinette Conway is battling to stay on the Dublin murder squad- it's where she's always wanted to be and since she made detective, she does not want to go back to Vice or Undercover or anywhere else. Her partner Stephen is the same. They both have a hunger for it. Unfortunately, Antoinette is not well liked- partly because she's a woman in an all male environment but also because she takes none of her team's misogynistic bullshit. She's a tough cookie. Because of their persona non-grata status, they get the cases that go nowhere, including the murder of Aislinn Murray, a young, pretty blonde, found murdered by a single blow to the head in her own home. There's a distinct lack of DNA evidence at the scene and no obvious suspects, other than a fella Aislinn was seeing. All is going reasonably well until Antoinette and Stephen realise the rest of the squad are not so subtly pushing them into arresting the boyfriend, fast. What they have to figure out is if this is more of the bullying Antoinette has been on the receiving end of or if there's a more sinister reason why they are being coerced into solving the case in a certain way. This is a good thriller/crime/whodunnit. As always, what makes French's books that bit more interesting is the innate Irishness to them, which often translates quite darkly in her stories. While I enjoyed this, I can't say that it immediately hooked me, the way some of her other novels have but I did enjoy it and was keen to see how it would end. 

Final Girls by Riley Sager
I had seen this reviewed on someone else's blog and the name and concept made me want to read it immediately. I was kind of horrified to find out that it's not released til July so I went and asked for it on NetGalley and they very kindly complied. Thanks NetGalley, you completely put me out of my misery! 
The name "Final Girls" derives from horror movies where there's always one girl left. She's faced the slasher/serial killer and has somehow escaped where all of her friends have been brutally murdered. Quincy has been given the nickname of a Final Girl by the media, after surviving a horrific attack in Pine Cottage, a cabin in the woods that left all of her college friends viciously murdered. There are other Final Girls too, each the victims in their own private but conversely, extremely public horror movies- Lisa, who narrowly avoided being one of nine sorority girls murdered by a serial killer and Sam, who was tortured by the "Sack Man" at a motel she used to work in, where all the guests were left for dead. It's ten years later and Quincy now writes a baking blog and lives as quiet a life as she can with her boyfriend. That is until fellow Final Girl Lisa is found dead and Sam shows up on Quincy's doorstep. Did Lisa really kill herself and is Sam a friend or a foe? It looks like someone is after the Final Girls and is trying to drag Quincy back to that forest where she will eventually find out what really happened in Pine Cottage. I am definitely the right market for this- I love horrors, especially 80's slashers so this was right up my street. I was completely addicted to this book. I took a brief break in reading it (I read it in one day) to go to the cinema but spent the time on the way there and on the way back going "I wonder what's going to happen next in my book…and what the hell happened in Pine Cottage?!!!" etc. Sorry, Cilian and Ailbhe for my poor company that evening. I also held my kindle and continued to read whilst simultaneously making tea. Boiling hot water and a lack of attention do not mix, kids. Some of the plot points are a little bit stretched if I'm honest and it was a bit trashy in places, but that's kind of what I liked about it, it made it feel more like an authentic horror movie but in book form. Awesome! 



Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I'd been aware of Kate Atkinson as an author for quite a while now but this is the first of hers that I've read. This is an unusual book to try and describe but sure, I'll have a go. The story begins on a cold snowy night in 1910 where a baby girl, Ursula is born. Neither the midwife nor the doctor get there on time and she dies. On an alternative version of that night, she lives and continues her life. This is basically a series of sliding doors universes where Ursula lives but is murdered later in life or lives but someone she loves dies or lives but she in turn kills Hitler. I know. Very cool. It's ultimately about the many possibilities that life gives us and the many possibilities that fate takes away from us. I listened to this on Audible and it did take me a while to get into it. I'm not sure that this particular book lends itself well to audio but after a while I really enjoyed it and I loved Ursula. I rejoiced when she re-lived her life and avoided a decision that had been catastrophic for her in a different life and in turn, felt dejected when all the many awful men she met along the way destroyed her. I felt both sad and triumphant at the end, that it was over but also, that I had survived the saga that was the many lives of Ursula Todd! Still, she felt like a friend and I missed the characters so much that I'm now reading the sequel, A God In Ruins. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet- I will report back of course, but I can definitely recommend Life After Life.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
This was for our book club but both my sister and Himself had also bought me super fancy hardback editions for Christmas, both of which are very swoon-worthy. It's also nicely fitting for the story itself, which is dark and twisty but also full of descriptions of nature. This was a really pleasant book to read, I loved the use of language and the imagery that it conjured in my mind. Parts of it floored me. 
This whole paragraph for instance: "One day he said: 'In Japan they'll mend a broken pot with drops of molten gold. What a thing it would be: to have me break you and mend your wounds with gold.' But she'd been seventeen, and armour clad with youth, and never felt the blade go in". 
Anyway, the "she" in that paragraph grows up and becomes a widow with a slightly unusual son and a devoted ladies maid. Cora is a complacent widow as her marriage was an unhappy one but she is an intelligent and inquisitive woman and wishes to see more of the world, which was unusual for 1893. With that, all three move to Essex, hoping for fresh air and a fresh start but Cora becomes obsessed with a rumour about a large serpent living in the waters of Essex and killing its inhabitants. She also becomes close at this time to the local vicar and his family. He is a sceptic about the serpent but finds himself more and more drawn to Cora, especially as his wife becomes more and more unwell…so you can see where that's headed, but lots of other weird things happen in the meantime and overall, it's a strange book. At times enjoyable but often slow and convoluted. There's plenty of competing story lines, that I haven't even mentioned here because we actually don't have the space. I'm not sure I'd recommend this one unless you were very specifically looking for a book like this, which is not to say I didn't enjoy it…I still haven't quite made my mind up about this yet!

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
I saw the film of this a few years ago and thought it was somewhat enjoyable and then I spotted this on the Library ebook section, which I of course then downloaded. I love the Library. Anyway, in case you don't remember, Andy has just graduated and needs a job. She somehow ends up interviewing for a PA position in Runway (a not very well disguised version of Vogue), which she thinks will help her get ahead- she has lofty ambitions to be a serious journalist for the New York Times. Her boss is Miranda Priestly (again, a not super well disguised version of Anna Wintour), the most hated woman in the fashion magazine industry. It turns out that she is the "devil" of the title and treats everyone who works for her with utter contempt using a good old dose of what we now call 'gas lighting' to destroy in particular, Andy's spirit. Meanwhile, Andy is also trying to juggle relationships with her boyfriend and her best friend as she slowly but surely gets sucked into the world of Runway. But can she get out before it consumes who she is? To be honest, by the end of this you probably won't care either way. None of these people are super likeable characters but it passes the time nicely. Having said that, there are plenty of other, better books in this kind of genre, if you're looking for some lighter reading. 


The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood
This was the second Alex Marwood I've read, having previously enjoyed The Darkest Secret, another psychological thriller that read like a "what really really happen to Madeline McCann" expose. The Killer Next Door is set in a dingy house in London, divided into bedsits and filled with a group of very different people, all with something to hide. Their landlord is an out and out creep and spies on and sexually harasses the female renters. One of them is Collette, she's on the run from her gangster ex-boss who she's stolen from, while Cher is hiding from the social services. Vesta, an elderly woman is trying to cling on to what's left of her home, while the male tenants are all loners, asylum seekers and generally outsiders, trying to keep to themselves. Tension builds up in the house as the Summer heat increases until it comes to a head one night when a crime takes place in the house that they all in turn, become embroiled in. None of that is helped by the fact that separate to that there is also a serial killer living and operating in one of the apartments…but who is it?! This was an absolute gripper of a book, I could not put it down and had finished it in about two days. One thing I would say though is that it can be quite gory and at times even my stomach turned at some of the descriptions, which is saying something- it takes a lot to make me squeamish. Having said that, if you like a good thriller and you enjoy trying to figure out who the killer is, you'll definitely like this. 

Paper Girls, Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan
I bought this in a comic book shop in Galway on a bit of a whim. I'm a fan of graphic novels anyway and had heard this was a good'un but it wasn't 'til I saw it in real life that I knew I had to have it- it practically jumped at me from the shelf and I can't even explain how much I love it. The guy who sold it to me said if I liked Stranger Things then I'd like this too but it goes way beyond that. I adore the colours, the drawings, the pop culture references and the story itself. Four girls who deliver newspapers in an American suburb in the 80's, cross paths on Halloween night and end up joining forces when the apocalypse hits them. This encompasses time travel, other worlds, monsters, feminism and four kick-ass girls taking all of that on. When a twist was revealed I actually went 'OMG!!!' and tried to tell Himself and ruin it for him, just so I could tell someone (I didn't), so you know it's good. I've already bought Vol 2. Very excited for that! 

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
This is actually Marwood's first book, so of course I have read it last in the sequence of her releases. Way behind there. I probably have enjoyed this one the least. Three little girls meet on a hot Summers day, but only two of them get home that evening. Jade is from a deprived background, she wanders the streets looking for food and gets up to mischief wherever possible. She meets and befriends Annabel, from the big mansion in the town but also from an abusive home. They somehow end up being lumbered with a four year old to look after for the day, even though they're only kids themselves and don't have the capacity or ability to look after themselves properly. Through what eventually turns out to be a horror of a day, little Chloe is killed and Jade and Annabel are not only found to be to blame but they are vilified and become the most hated girls in Britain. Fast forward several years and both girls are now grown up, using different names and trying to move on with their lives. Annabel is now Amber, a cleaning supervisor in a funfair, in an unhappy relationship with sleazy ladies man Victor, while Jade is now Kirsty, a happily married journalist with two children. They're under strict instructions never to meet or speak to each other again but they have no choice in breaking that promise when Kirsty travels to Amber's seaside town to investigate a series of grizzly murders. The book is peppered with flashbacks to the day of Chloe's death, so we don't find out until almost at the end of the book what actually happened. Add to that the fact that there seems to be two modern day serial killers added to the storyline, who are nothing to do with each other and this one ends up being a bit convoluted. I think the concept of this book was better than it's execution but it was still a good read, it just didn't quite grip me as much as her others have. 


And that's that! Have you read any of these?
What are you reading right now?

To the comments!
XX

Monday, 17 April 2017

Greek Beauty Haul

One of my favourite things about going away somewhere new (apart from eating all the food) is trying out the beauty products unique to that particular country. Before we went to Crete, I had a little look online and as I was already a fan of Korres, I had that firmly on my mind.
We don't get their full range over here, which covers skincare, shower products, shampoo & conditioner, perfumes, oils, sun-care, hair dye, make up, nail polish etc.

greek beauty products

Mostly though, I wanted skincare. And so, I specifically was looking for a new oil. Step forward Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil
This is for all skin types and is targeted specifically for dull, uneven skin tone, dryness and fine lines and wrinkles. I was looking for this in particular because it has actual wild rose petals floating in the oil and you know I love a pretty product. 
Plus, gimmick. Gimmick is good. 

Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Active Brightening Oil

Apparently there is ultra concentrated Vitamin C oil in here that does some fancy anti-inflammatory and antioxidant work that brightens your skin as well as smoothing lines and overall leaving you looking dewy and glowy, like a baby deer, I'd imagine. As always, I find a lot of brand claims difficult to confirm myself, so I'll tell you what it does for me. 
I use this at night time, after my moisturiser. It has a little glass dropper, which I love anyway, cause it makes me feel like a ye olde apothecary. I only use about two drops at a time and warm it in the palm of my hand. 
It's incredibly silky and light and sinks in remarkably quickly. It smells beautiful- like an old fashioned, gentle perfume and genuinely leaves my skin feeling soft and refreshed. I think it's one of the nicer facial oils I've ever used. It's a really enjoyable night time ritual now, that signals the end of the day and a total relaxation to gently massage this in, inhale and sink back into my pillows.
Because my skin is on the dry/dehydrated side, I don't love heavy, clogging products so it's kind of a joy to find an oil that's lightweight and still works. Rejoice! 
Plus, look at the petals!!! Squeee!!

korres cheek butter mandarin oil lip balm

To go with this and because I don't like using oils in the morning because of make-up related issues, I went for a non-oil based serum. This is the Wild Rose Brightening and Line-Smoothing Face and Eye Serum. 


Again, this is for reducing the number and dept of wrinkles (I know it's inevitable but every little helps) and adding a luminosity and a radiance to my skin that I'm always trying to add in. What I love about this is again, how light it is and that it can be used around my eyes so I'm not using an additional eye cream in the mornings. I use this under my moisturiser and it is rather lovely. 

I got 20% off on those so it worked out to be really good value- about €45 in total for both, which is great considering the serum alone is €36 to buy here. The make-up was all full price though and nothing really jumped out at me except for this cream blush and mandarin oil lip balm. Both of which were actually on sale..I know, cheapskate.


This is one of their Cheek Butters; it has shea butter and guava extract in there for moisture and vitamin C for antioxidant benefits. Mad into the vitamin C, so they are. I have the shade Philia Rose, which is a flattering, warm pink. So far I've just use my fingers to blend this in but you could equally use a stippling brush or a blending sponge. I think that shade will suit a lot of skin tones but it comes in two other shades also. This was a fiver, not bad at all. 

The lip balm is another good'un. Having used their little pots previously I wanted to try a stick version and this is as lovely as those. It obviously has mandarin oil in there and there's also shea butter and sunflower wax. This was €2, it's €9.60 on the Feel Unique website.
*does a little victory dance*.

Lastly then, I wanted to try something from Apivita, another Greek brand that focuses a lot on shower products and haircare. 

apivita refreshing fig

Again, I got 20% off on these so although I was just going to get the shower gel, I went for the body lotion as well. These smell absolutely stunning- I love fig and cause these are also packed with lavender and geranium essential oils, they have that kind of "expensive hotel shower product" vibes, if that makes sense.  There's also aloe and honey extracts to moisturise. Love them. 

greek beauty haul


And that is that. Although I did pick up a couple of mini tubes of Korres face masks in the duty Free but I haven't tried those yet, so they're not here.
Did I do good?!
Have you tried any of these?
To the comments!
XX