Monday, 14 August 2017

Clarins Double Serum [Hydric + Lipidic System]

Clarins Double Serum has been around since 1985- it's been a continuous favourite for women and one of Clarins's best sellers. I've been using it for slightly less time than that- two years to be exact and its latest version, for just over two weeks and while that's not actually a long time in the skincare sense of things, I feel like I've got a good enough grasp on the product, to tell you all about it! 

Double Serum is just that- a two chambered bottle, one side containing a lipid based liquid (oil) and the other a hydric based (water). When you press down on the pump, by the power of engineering (and potentially witchcraft), you're given a mixture of the two, that you can then apply for optimum benefit to your skin. This is ideal for me as I have dry skin and I find both water based and oil based serums hugely beneficial and even more so when combined together. There just needs to be the perfect balance of the two, which is where Double Serum comes in. 

I had previously bought and loved the original Double Serum from Clarins- it was pricey but my skin absolutely loved it and so I used every last tiny drop. It was one of those empties that I mourned the loss of; it felt luxurious on and my skin was gloriously soft when I used it. 

The only concern I had was brought to my attention when I blogged about it at the time. It had mineral oil in it, an ingredient which is generally frowned upon by skincare lovers. Personally, mineral oil doesn't have any ill effects for me, so it was never an issue but for those who have sensitive skin, it was a deal breaker. Add to that, mineral oil is often considered a cheap, "filler" product and I can understand why this was problematic.

Speed forward a little bit to Summer 2017 and a new and improved version of Double Serum has been launched. 
You'll want to know what's changed and so I'm breaking it down here for yis in the most non-scientific lingo I can:

  • It now contains 21 plant powerful extracts, all with anti-ageing benefits.
  • The new skincare buzzword is "Turmeric", it's a bit of a miracle ingredient when it comes to optimising the function of your skin's cells, so it helps with things like; regeneration, oxygenation, nutrition, hydration and protection of your skin.
  • Clarins have involved even more women than before in the development of this serum. They claim it has a universal texture that's suitable for all women, all age groups, all ethnic backgrounds and all skin types, even those with sensitive skin (remember that mineral oil from before? That's no longer in Double Serum! Huzzah!)
  • The bottle itself has changed, so the double vial of before now has a measurement system at the top that allows for only a small amount of product, or a larger amount, (depending on your skincare needs) to be pumped out. 

I was seriously impressed by the amount of research that's gone into the new and improved Double Serum. First impressions for me are positive. I loved the last version and I love this one too. My skin feels comfortable when I use this, even relieved sometimes after I've applied it. I'll give this a longer trial and let ye know but so far it's two enthusiastic thumbs up! 

You can find the reformulated Double Serum in stockists nationwide, prices are €72 for 30ml and €92 for 50ml

Have you tried the new Double Serum yet? Did you love the previous version too?
To the comments!

*This post was not sponsored. I received a press sample of this product for review and as always, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Love Your Local Library!

As it's Book Lovers Day, I thought now would be as good a time as any to write about libraries and why they're so great. My Mum and Dad brought us to the library in Limerick and got us cards before we could even read and I still count this as one of the best things anyone has ever done for me. It meant that I had access to swathes of books suitable to my age at every age, as I grew up but also that I learned from when I was very young that books were wonderful, basically. 

Firstly, it was all about the picture books before moving on to Meg and Mog, Roald Dahl, the Ramona series, the S.K.U.N.K series, the Ruby Ring series and anything by Marita Conlon McKenna, all before moving on to GoosebumpsPoint Horror, Agatha Christie and Stephen King in my early teens*.

*That's only to name a very few of the books I borrowed, growing up. 

I didn't stop there though and kept going back to the library throughout my teens and early twenties. Although, for a time, the college library was more than enough library for me to handle so my own personal reading fell by the wayside. I then went through a brief period of "buy ALL the books" once I had a reliable wage, picking up books I had wanted to actually own for years; some of which had become favourites in the first place thanks to the library. 

When I moved to Dublin, I of course had to get a library card so off to Rathmines with me, drawn as I was to the beautiful building the library sits in there. I enjoyed pottering about in there before getting a coffee and strolling home along the canal with my latest stack of books but now I attend a library closer to work for ease. 

In the last year or so I've realised all of the amazing services the library provides in this country that I was completely unaware of. I've been using BorrowBox for about a year- it's an app for your phone. You log in with your library card number and password and you then have access to hundreds of ebooks and audio books to use on your smartphone. 
Often, the newer releases or very popular books may be on a waiting list so you can request them and will be given a date that it'll be yours. It's automatically downloaded to your phone on that date and you get an email letting you know it's there. It's like getting a little free surprise gift every so often! This has revolutionised how I read. Now, I always have at least one borrow box audio and ebook on the go, along with one or two real life books borrowed from the library and my usual kindle/other books I happen to be reading. 
Life is way too short for the amount of books I want to read so this works really well for me.

I also love that I can request the books I read for my book club and the date I need them by. Even if they're a brand new release and I'll get an email letting me know when it's available to pick up. 

There's way more that the library has to offer; I love mine for the collections of books it'll have on display. Award winners, Irish authors, pyschological thrillers, new releases, book club favourites. Lots of ideas if you're stuck in a book rut! If you have kids there's loads for them there too, along with dvd and music rentals, YA novels, plus a good selection of graphic novels, which can be expensive. There's also computer services and study areas. 

I get a unique feeling of enjoyment from visiting the library, which I know, makes me a total book nerd and I'm totally ok with that. I love reading and I love that there's a place that facilitates that love for absolutely no money whatsoever. On that note though, bear in mind that our library services will be cut back unless we use them. I know I'm paying towards mine with my taxes, and that's great but I found out recently that they no longer charge to renew your account when it's out of date, like they used to. Support your local library- attend, borrow, start a book club, tell everyone else how great it is!!

And that is the end of my nerdiness! Tell me all about your own love of the library, let's be book dragons together!

*How many times do you think I said "library" in this post? Eleventy billion? You'd be correct. Also, I was not paid by the library to write this post, although I can totally see why you might think that...

Monday, 24 July 2017

Kiko Summer Sale Haul!

I'm a big Kiko Milano fan. Whenever we're in a European city I try and get near one so I can do a little bargain make up hauling. One of the best of those times was when we were in Rome for my birthday and Himself handed me a basket and told me to work away. That was a great present! This Summer we're saving our funds for a holiday stateside in the Winter so we haven't been to any European cities and therefore, no actual in real life Kiko store.
They do however, have a great online site where you can shop their Summer sale to your hearts content. Granted, they are good value anyway, but add in a sale and you're doing really well!

Kiko milano

I had never tried any of their foundations or skincare so I had to give them a go, alongside my fave Kiko products; blushers and lip products. 

Kiko milano

2 in 1 Blush/lip sticks are a big thing every Summer. I had seen similar shades from No.7 that were a bit too pricey for me so when I spotted these Tropic Heat Lips & Cheeks for €3.90 each, I had to try them. I picked up Exotic coral and Sweety Mauve. 
At the bottom of the photo there is the Urban Sheen gloss, that's a really Summery lip gloss stick in a coral shade and only €1!

Kiko milano

These are the ideal "throw in your holiday luggage" make up. 

Kiko milano

The BB Cream Coloured Beauty Balm is described as a "foundation treatment with moisturising active ingredients and a medium sun protection factor". It looks like a white cream but on closer inspection you can see micro-pigments that react with your skin tone to give you a natural looking finish that's super flattering. It's like your skin but better, not to be a total cliché. I really like this, it's perfect for the days where you can't be arsed putting on make-up but still need something to control the death-like pallor. This was €4.40.

Kiko milano

The Skin Tone Hydration Foundation also has an SPF15, and is a light, smooth foundation with a radiant finish. This isn't one to wear on a night out and then for the next 42 hours straight- it's light to medium coverage only. It reminds me of Bourjois Healthy glow, it's a great option for daytime and work. This was €11.

Kiko milano

On the end there is the Hydra Pro Mask, a moisturising intensive mask. I haven't used this yet but it's just my cup of tea- I always have a couple of dry-skin face masks on my bedside table, they're a vital part of my skincare routine! This was €6.25.

Kiko milano

I'll always re-buy brown kohl liners- perfect for a smudged eye and black liquid pen liners when I feel like making a bit more effort. The Precision eye pencil is kind of perfect, it'll still smudge with the help of a brush and a taupe eyeshadow but it doesn't disappear when I smudge it either, like a lot of them do. This was only €2.25.
The Ultimate Pen liquid eyeliner is really good too, very dark, applies easily, lasts well. €4.85.

Kiko milano

Just a moment for this packaging please. 

Kiko milano

And inside! Glorious! This is the Two-tone baked bush in the shade Natural Beach. There's three versions but this pink and the bronze is really flattering on pale skin. There's great colour payoff too- one swipe and you're in pigment city! It's really lovely on and is only €8.45. Love it. 

That's that! Other good news is Kiko are also cruelty free, something I'm trying really hard to adhere to. You'd be surprised how many brands aren't. 
You can find more from the Kiko Summer sale HERE.

Have you tried anything from Kiko?
To the comments!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Irish Bloggers Made Me Do It!

I'm sure that over the years since I first started blogging that I've enabled others into buying things and that's equally true of all the bloggers I know, love and follow and the effect they've had on my own poor, cowering bank account!

I love blogs and bloggers- I trust the bloggers I follow and I know if they recommend something, then it's good. That got me thinking about the things I've bought or tried recently and who enticed me to pick them up!
There's loads of other bloggers aside from those mentioned here who only need to mention something and I want it but we'd have been here forever so I've narrowed it down to recent buys! 

This is really only a small smattering of the many products I have bought thanks to my fellow Irish bloggers but these are some of my recent faves. 

Sue from Cherry Sue Doin' The Do
Sue is particularly spot on with the fancier things in life so I kept the Tartelette palette filed way in my brain after seeing her recommendation. I think Sue might have actually featured this on her instagram rather than her blog but she praised this palette from Tarte and while I was stateside I fell for it too. I haven't had a chance to review this yet but I love it. Sue was (as always) right, the shadows are buttery soft and so pigmented. Plus they smell like Kinder Bueno, so, bonus. Unfortunately for me, I got this all the way home in my case in perfect condition and then dropped it on my wooden floor at home. Typical, as I am the clumsiest person in the world. As you can see, it's not in the best condition anymore but I still use it on the regular.

Gemma from Beauty Nook
Gemma has a great eye for bargain beauty products and is always way ahead of everyone when it comes to new releases and new trends. These Cream Puff Blushes from Max Factor have been out a while now and at the time, Gemma championed them, so of course I had to try them! These are fab and feel like a much more expensive product than they are.
You can read Gemma's post HERE.

Lorraine from John, It's Only Make Up.
I love Lorraine. She's super witty and make up looks gorgeous on her, with some of the credit for that owing to her extensive skincare knowledge. It's because of Lorraine that I bought NYX Taupe Blush and The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% & HA Spheres 2% (HERE). Granted, I had been aware of the cult following that that particular blush has when used as a contour for pale skin, but it was only when I saw it on Lorraine's blog (HERE) that I added it to the list. I'm still not sure how I feel about that Vit C suspension but Lorraine introduced me to the brand and has more posts on what to try from them HERE and HERE

Sinéad from The Beautiful Truth
Sinéad is a blogger, a mum and a teacher so when she recommended Moxi Eye Catcher Cleasnsing & Correcting Buds on TV3 for when you're on the go, I had to try them for myself and I love them! My eye make up is usually pretty smudged after an 8 hour day in work so if I'm on my way somewhere at that stage, I have a few of these ready to go in my bag! If you don't know much about them, they're essentially cotton buds that when activated (snapping the top), they release make up remover to one side, which you can then use to clean off any smudges or mistakes. You can find these in Penneys.

Sera from The Style Guide
Sera is an absolute gem for finding niche products that I didn't know I needed til she tells us all about them! I could spend hours reading her blog- her writing is just the best. After seeing her post on face masks, I had to buy a 10 pack of these bargain-tastic under eye collagen gold masks from eBay. I love them, they're packed with serum that leaves my skin really soft. Plus, they make me look like a superhero. Win-win.
HERE's her review.

Emma from Ol' Green Eyes
Anything Emma puts on her face instantly makes me want to go out and buy it- she's a stunner! I had been debating buying Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk lipstick and then I saw it on Emma and sure, that was that. And I love it!
There's a review from Emma HERE and my own HERE if you're interested in seeing it for yourself. I also want a pair of Emma's tassel earrings but that's another matter..

Karen from Lovely Girlie Bits
I had seen the Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita palette on Karen's blog long before I bought it (as a getting-out-of-hospital-present for myself) and it was seeing what that bronze shade did to her irises that made me want it. This is a perfect little palette- great for the blue or green eyed amongst us. As Karen would say, you need this on your eyeballs, stat! (I added the 'stat' part myself). 
You can see it in action on Karen's face, HERE

I'll probably make this a series cause there's really no end to the brilliant Irish bloggers that are out there who influence all of my purchases!
If in the meantime you need more ideas, check out Andreea of Your Beauty, Yavanna of Make Up Monster, Edel from The Pharmer's Journal, and Siobhán from Beautylymin, to name but a very few. 

So, Confession time! 
What have you bought because of an Irish blogger and which of my purchases here have you tried?
To the comments!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse | Review

You have by now, more than likely heard about the collaboration between makeup/skincare brand Pixi & beauty blogger/skincare lover, Caroline Hirons
Hirons knows her stuff when it comes to skincare and her thing is the double cleanse; that is, the use of an oil based cleanser to remove the obvious layer of make up from your face and another cleanse after that with a cream or liquid based cleanser to remove what's left. 
This has been a big seller for cult US brand Pixi so it was only a matter of time before I gave it a go myself.

Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse

As you can see, you get two sections for your cleanse; a solid oil that melts when warmed on your fingers/face and following that, a cleansing cream to clean your actual skin, now that the make up has been removed. If you think that sounds like a lot of faffing and believe me, that is EXACTLY what I thought, it's well worth giving this a go. 
If you are also thinking- why not just use one if they're both such great cleansers? Well, Caroline (I feel like we should be on first name terms as I watch her giving out to her sons on her Insta-stories all the time), says that the oil part is really just for loosening and removing makeup and SPF, while the cream cleanser has more beneficial ingredients to properly clean and massage your skin.

Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse

Caroline also says that they've done their best to make this product as user friendly to as many skin types as possible, so there's no mineral oil or Shea butter in there (not great for oily skins) and instead there's camellia oil and evening primrose oil. She's also made both cleansers scent free, so if you're of a sensitive disposition, that'll sit well with you too. As for my own dry skin, I really like it. The oil is very comfortable on and removes all my make up, even from my eyes with no stinging or discomfort, along with a muslin cloth soaked in warm water. The temptation to stop there and go put on serum and moisturiser is strong, especially when tired but the cream cleanser is lovely too and leaves my skin nice and soft with that super clean feeling.

So basically, it's thumbs up from me. It's very handy to have both cleansers in the one tub and it would be great for travel, if you were that committed to your double cleanse. I can't say I am but then, I tend to bring miniatures away with me when travelling to afford more weight for all the shite I then buy in the likes of Sephora etc. Sure look, it's why we're all here!

If you're looking to try a double cleanse for yourself, you can find Pixi online from Cloud 10 Beauty or in the beauty hall in Marks and Spencers.

Are you a fan of the double cleanse? Have you tried this offering from Pixi and Caroline Hirons?
To the comments!

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!

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!

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!

*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!

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!