Sunday, 10 December 2017

(Not So) Recently Read; August & September

I know. It's December and I am very late with this but I promise I'll be better next year!*
By now I'm well on my way to reaching this years reading goal of 60 books read but for the last couple of months, I did step it up a gear. One of the things I'm trying to do at the minute is actually finish the books I've started. Sometimes I'll start a book, like it, but end up starting another and it gets forgotten about. I've also gotten back into audiobooks and I've kept up my library borrowing too. Use your library, folks! I can't say it enough!

*Lies


Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
I had a £10 voucher for Audible and spotted this, within the budget and went for it. Well, was that a good move on my part! I figured this would be your average thriller but it was way better than that! Gina Royal is a Midwestern housewife with two kids, a husband and a seeming normal and idyllic life. That's all shattered however when her husband is revealed to be an active serial killer and has been using their garage to torture and murder women. The book shifts from that reality to another- now known as Gwen, Gina and her two kids have had to change their names innumerable times and move from place to place when there's been any hint that someone might find out who they are. They're being hunted by Internet trolls who believe that Gina knew what her husband was doing and was even his accomplice. Now they're settled at Stillhouse Lake and all is going well until the body of a woman is found near their home, and it appears that she was murdered in a strikingly similar fashion to Gina's husband's victims. Gina/Gwen is such a great character. She's strong and fierce and the story is absolutely gripping from start to finish. The sequel is out soon which I cannot wait to read!

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Another great thriller and surprisingly, my first ever Karin Slaughter book! Samantha and Charlotte Quinn are estranged sisters. Charlotte, now known as Charlie still lives in their home town and works with her father, Rusty. He's known as the "lawyer for the damned" because he will represent anyone- drug dealers, murderers, rapists. Charlie is also a lawyer now with a failing marriage and several traumatic miscarriages in her past. She becomes embroiled in a school shooting in the town and immediately her father chooses to represent the shooter, a vulnerable young girl. Her dad too becomes a target for this choice, as he has before and Charlie is forced to contact her sister Sam to come home. Sam hasn't been home since they were teenagers when a violent incident changed all of their lives forever. It left her with many physical scars and Charlie with mental ones. Their past is about to get dragged up again in the worst possible way. This was a non-putdownable gripper of a thriller! I loved Charlie and Sam's characters and although the story was disturbing at times, it was really well written and atmospheric. If you like thrillers, you'll enjoy this. 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
This was the second book from Paula Hawkins, after Girl On The Train was a big bestseller last year. I read that one too and didn't love it but I was in the minority there so I said I'd give this a go. Jules's estranged sister Nel has just killed herself and Jules now has to look after her niece.
There's loads of flashbacks to when Jules and Nel were teenagers and hated each other cause Nel was a terrible person. Nel's daughter also seems awful. There's a police investigation going on in the book and the female detective is the only vaguely interesting character, even though she doesn't get a backstory, at least not up to where I read anyway. If that all sounds incredibly vague it's cause I stopped reading it about halfway through and returned it. Because it was going nowhere and I didn't care about any of them.


Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
I love Rebecca Solnit, whenever I see a new essay by her I get really excited; I really enjoy her style of writing. This is a collection of essays, kicking off with Men Explain Things To Me, which was how the term "mansplaining" came into use. All the essays have an element of feminist thinking to them so are really interesting if that's your thing too. I started this one ages ago and just dipped in and out of it whenever I felt like it- something I love about essay collections. I've two more of her books on my to-be-read shelf, waiting to go! Next years books are already looking good!

Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
This goes into my favourite books of the whole year, maybe of all time. A collection of fictional stories, this was my first Roxanne Gay book but most certainly won't be my last. Every story has a woman as its protagonist and they're all full, rounded people with flaws and secrets, good and bad traits. I was crying by the end of the first story while others left me completely bereft and others, fuming with anger. I still think about some of the women's stories from time to time. This for me was one of those times when you come across something so new and so different that it floors you a little bit- I'm still not quite recovered. Trigger warning for rape/child abuse if you are thinking of reading it. 

Dear Ijeawle, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
I love Chimamanda! This is a list of suggestions for her friend on how to raise her newborn daughter in a feminist way. Some are obvious but others, I hadn't thought of. I'd be intrigued to see would she write the same or something similar for a baby boy? Well worth a (quick) read for anyone, regardless of your parent status!



Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
It's been several years since I read a Jodi Picoult book and my lasting impression from then was that her novels tend to focus on ethical or moral dilemmas that forces the protagonists into an impossible situation, which in turn asks us to think what would we do ourselves in that position? Small Great Things is no different to that but while you could at times describe her writing as formulaic, I felt there was so much research and depth to this book that it really stood out from her other work. Ruth is a labour and delivery nurse (midwife to you and I ) working in a maternity hospital in Connecticut, where she's worked for over twenty years. On a regular day she takes over the care of a mother, her husband and their new baby but is horrified when they demand she be removed as their nurse- they're white supremacists and Ruth is black. Things go from bad to worse when the baby becomes unwell and laden down with grief, the couple take their wrath out on Ruth, bringing her to court for negligence.
The book examines racism in America and not just the extremely obvious situation that Ruth finds herself in but the everyday inequalities that Ruth and her sister must live through that us, and Ruth's lawyer in the book, as white people of privilege have no real concept of.  One of my main issues with this book is that it really feels throughout that it's been written for white people to learn about their privilege- its a book about rather than for people of colour. This comes across pretty heavy handedly at times, especially in her note at the end where she basically says...examine your privilege, all you middle class white people who are reading this. Her intention here seems to be coming from a good place but I feel a little uneasy about a white woman writing about racism from the perspective of a black woman..maybe that's just me. It is still an intriguing and well written story, if you can look past those issues, which isn't always easy. 

The Break by Marian Keyes
I got this on Audible as soon as it came out; if there's a new Marian Keyes out then you best believe I'll be reading it. In this case, listening to it. Amy and Hugh are a married couple with teenage daughters, living in Dublin. She think they're happily married until Hugh announces that he's off travelling the world for 6 months or longer and that she's not coming with him. He wants to go on A Break and he's planning on being with other women while he's at it. This means that Amy will now have to juggle a full time job, three teenagers (one of whom is a blossoming Youtube star), a father with dementia and a mother who is struggling with caring for him. Add to that the realisation that she has to go back into the world of dating after a fairly lengthy gap. Lads, I loved Amy. It was a joy to listen to her. She's loveable and strong and vulnerable all rolled up into a big realistic package. I looked forward to listening to this- when I had to make myself leave the house to go to Pilates I'd entice myself to go by remembering I had Amy to listen to on the way there and back. I know some have said that they felt it was slightly long in places; I see where they're coming from but honesty, I just really enjoyed all of Amy's trials and tribulations. A great read for sure. You'll also find it in my Book Gift Guide 2017, HERE

Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling, the Novel by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
In case you were unaware, there is a whole "Aisling"movement on Facebook that came before this book. Aisling is your classic Irish country girl; she wears runners to work and carries her heels in a Brown Thomas bag, she brings her lunch with her too cause those Dublin prices are mental. She's against anything that could seem like "notions", enjoys a night out at home in the local disco like nothing else and she never wastes the opportunity to get up for a hotel breakfast, no matter how drunk she is. We all know an Aisling, is what the basic gist of the book is and you know, I do! I also know lots of the other characters in the book; Sadbh and Majella for sure, as well as Aisling's Mammy and Daddy. Aisling has been with her fella for a few years now and as everyone they know is getting married and settling down, she assumes the same thing is on the cards for them. Unfortunately, he has other ideas and so Aisling is forced to reevaluate her plans. She moves in with cool new housemates, up to the Big Smoke and starts seeing someone new..but is she being true to herself?
I loved this one too, it's a really fun, enjoyable read, although it did make me bawl at one stage. We passed this around in work and everyone who read it loved it (and knew an Aisling) so you've got lots of recommendations for this one!


Paper Girls Vol.2 by Brian K. Vaughan
This is the second in the series of graphic novels about four young girls on Halloween night in the 80's, doing their usual newspaper round and somehow finding themselves thrown into a post apocalyptic world full of creatures they must fight while at the same time trying to come to terms with time travel and meeting their future selves. If it sounds a bit weird, it's cause it is but it's so much nerdy sci-fi fun. It's also beautifully drawn and I love the colours, dialogue and general kick-assery. 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The film version of The Princess Bride is one of my favourite films of all time. I'm seen it far too much and it was really about time I read the book. Himself bought this for me a few Christmas's ago but unfortunately this is one of those books I started reading and put down and forgot to go back to until recently. I'm annoyed that I didn't continue with it at the time because I absolutely loved this. So it's written by William Goldman but the book is actually his version of S. Morgenstern's original book...or so I was led to believe. I'll say no more but one important thing I will say is; read the epilogues!! If you think you've seen the film and you don't need to read the book, you're so wrong! There's loads of great extra bits in here missing from the film and it has all the same humour, adventure and romance as the movie does but in book format- which is almost better, I haven't decided yet! I also think this would be a great one to read to little'uns, just like in the film!

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal
It's 1981, Leon is an 8 year old boy who loves The Dukes of Hazard and his newborn baby brother, Jake. We learn most things from his perspective, including all the conversations her overhears. Unfortunately for the family, Leon's mum has postnatal depression and can no longer look after him and his brother, so they're taken to stay with a lovely foster lady until they can be adopted. Almost straight away, a young couple start to visit Jake, with a view to adopting him, but not Leon. Because Leon is black and his baby brother is white. Now with an influx of anger and frustration in his life, Leon struggles to cope with all the changes that don't make sense to him. Thankfully there are some things that van still make him happy; getting a new bike and riding it really fast, learning how to grow a garden, as taught by a kind black man in the local allotment, the love of his foster mum and his plan to save enough money to go and rescue his baby brother...which may or may not go all that well. This was a difficult read. I felt so sad for Leon and his family. At times it was hard to keep reading as it felt like things were never really going to get better for him, especially if he grew up holding on to that anger. It's an interesting perspective to read from though and a dramatic time in history with the race riots in the UK as the background story in the book. 


The Child In time by Ian McEwan
I'm a big Ian McEwan fan but somehow had never read this one until it was recommended to me on Twitter. Stephen Lewis is a successful writer of children's books. His life is going well until the day he brings his three year old daughter Kate to the supermarket, where she is snatched without a trace. This massive trauma sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on devastating paths, separate from each other. Stephen's life unravels, essentially. This book is devastating, I don't have children but I could so intensely feel his distress that it made it a very difficult read and several times, I wanted to just put the book down. I love McEwan's writing though, as I've mentioned, so I ploughed on. The ending is beautiful and did bring some solace but honestly, I'm not sure I can recommend this one!

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson
This was an audio book produced exclusively for Audible. I'm not sure if you can actually get this in paper/Ebook format but it would seem unlikely as this is mostly interviews with people and Jon Ronson talking in his languid voice (which I love). Jon Ronson is a journalist, he has written a good few books now, exploring lots of unusual topics. This time he's looking at the butterfly effect that took place following the availability of free pornography online. A "butterfly effect" in case you're wondering, is the knock-on effect that can take place from even the smallest of actions, like the beating of a butterfly's wings. Here, Ronson interviews those involved in making porn available for free and those involved in the making of it and how porn is now produced following this turn of events. I found this absolutely fascinating and was glued to it. 

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
This is another one of those ones I started a couple of years ago and put down, intending to finish but never did...until now! I've read a few Hornby's and I think this was the first that really puts the reader into a man's brain, which is an unusual place for me to find myself! Rob and Laura have just broken up. He's decided he's cool with that; he can do all the things he couldn't do while in a relationship, like listening to his music and see new girls and generally act like Laura was never in his life. But that gets him thinking about his previous relationships and being the self-obsessed ass he is, he's compiled a list of his top 5 breakups, who he then has to contact and obsess over, all the while thinking about how he can get Laura back and if he really wants to be with someone at all?
This is a weird one for me, I've liked other Hornby books but Rob is quite difficult to relate to. I mean, he's not likeable at all. I know that's the point of his character but it doesn't make it a more enjoyable read by being aware of that. It's still a good read and parts did make me chuckle but the fact this is part of a genre called "dick-lit" (I'm not joking, look it up), maybe says it all.

And that's the lot!
I will of course eventually be back here with my October and November reads so stay tuned!
Have you read any of these?
Tell me what you're reading right now, I'm nosey like that!
XX

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Christmas Book Gift Guide 2017!

I say this every Christmas but books really do make the best presents. I've limited the selection this year to just fiction, non fiction/autobiographical/celebrity books and thrillers. Mostly because these are the main genre of books I've read myself this year so I can easily give my opinions but also because I'm smothered with a head cold and can't think straight. If there's anything glaringly obvious that you think I've missed, do let me know (I'm still buying one or two last Christmas presents and I always welcome help!).
I've tried to include only books that I've read myself but there's one or two in there that I've bought, haven't started yet but have heard that they're excellent.


Fiction

Eleanor Elephant Is Completely Fine
This was a big seller this year. I read it during the Summer (full review HERE) and loved it. It deals with complex issues like child abuse and mental illness but with a truly endearing and loveable protagonist that will make you want to reach into the book and give a big hug to. This is an emotional roller-coaster of a book; I cried and laughed many times. 

The Break
This is the latest from everyone's fave, Marian Keyes. It just won the best fiction award at the Bórd Gáis Irish Book Awards and rightly so. I've read this one but I'm way behind on my book reviews so I'll lay out the general idea here; Amy and Hugh have been married for years. They have teenage children and are happy. At least that's what Amy thinks. Hugh decides he wants a break from their marriage and plans to go travelling around the world. Without Amy. Free to sleep with other women. Amy now has to work full time, look after the family on her own (including her own full-on parents and siblings) and come to terms with effectively being single all of a sudden. This is a great read, Amy is a lovely, personable character and this is classic Marian Keyes. A lovely gift to find under the tree!

Oh My God What A Complete Aisling
Another I have yet to review, I wasn't even aware of the Facebook page with the same name (I joined it after reading the book and then swiftly left again; too much squabbling) but there was already a big following for the Oh My God What A Complete Aisling way of life. This is the novel; Aisling is a country girl, working in Dublin. She loathes notions and wants nothing more than to settle down at home with her boyfriend and get married, at last. He, unfortunately has different ideas and Aisling has to build a new life for herself with new flatmates, old friends, a stressful job situation and a family illness to deal with. This is a really pleasant read; everyone I know that's read it has enjoyed it and identified with one of the characters. it's very well written. 

Little Fires Everywhere
This was my book club choice for this month. I read it mostly on the plane to and from California and found it a really well written, easy to read and interesting book. It flows beautifully and Celeste Ng is an author I definitely want to read more from- I love her style of writing. The Richardsons are a relatively normal family living in an affluent suburb of Cleveland. Elena is the matriarch of the family and lives her life very much by the rules- she thinks that's how you succeed. Single mum, artist and free spirit, Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive into town and shake everything up. All the Richardson kids fall for Pearl and her mum but Elena turns on Mia when she gets involved in a local adoption and Elena decides to do some investigating into Mia's murky past, with dire consequences for everyone. 

Small Great Things
I haven't read a Jodi Picoult in years so this was a surprisingly enjoyable and gripping read. Ruth is a delivery nurse in a maternity hospital in the US. She's experienced and good at her job and arrives into work as usual to take over the care of a new mum and her baby. The couple instantly demand a new nurse- Ruth is black and they are racists. Things go from bad to worse when the baby has a medical emergency and Ruth is blamed. She finds herself in court, defending not just her actions, but also her skin colour. This is a really interesting and thought provoking read. 

The Alice Network
I just bought this for 99p on Kindle, I'm pretty pleased with myself cause this was a bestseller this year and may well be a future book club read. This is an ideal choice for fans of historical literature. Jumping between 1915 and 1947, focusing on female characters going into world war one and coming out of world war two and the secrets that connect them.


Non Fiction

When Breath Becomes Air
The story of a neurosurgeon who had to come to terms with being a patient himself after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. A surprisingly uplifting book. Full review HERE

What Happened
The 2016 US election from Hillary Clinton's perspective. I just finished this one on Audible, read by the woman herself and I enjoyed it- it's obviously politics heavy but that along with feminism interest me so it's not surprising I liked it. It may be a bit full on otherwise!

The Gospel According To Blindboy In 15 Short Stories 
This is actually a collection of short stories that I haven't read yet but knowing the madcap humour of the Rubberbandits, this offering from Blindboy Boatclub should be brilliant!

Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body
I haven't read this one but I did read my first Roxanne Gay book this year and I loved it- she's an amazing writer. She released Hunger this year; a memoir about food, weight and self-image. This sounds depressing but honestly, her writing is so worth it. I can't wait to read this one.

Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions
This is a short read but one of those books that you could dip in and out of again and again. This is a letter of advice from author and feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to her friend on how to raise her baby daughter to be a strong, independent woman. I feel like every new parent (and everyone else too) should read this. 

David Sedaris: Theft By Finding
Author and comedian David Sedaris is hilarious. This is a collection of diary entries of his from 1977 to 2002. There's plenty of laughs in here, full review HERE.

Bonus suggestion; Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (yes, THE Tom Hanks)


Thrillers

Magpie Murders
I've only started this on Audible but loving it so far. Susan Reyland is an editor, just given the new manuscript by a bestselling crime writer to read. It's an homage to Agatha Christie; old school big country house, disturbing murder in a sleepy English village. So far, so in-keeping with the author's style of writing but as Susan reads on, she's convinced there's a real life murder detailed in the manuscript. 

Stillhouse Lake
This one took me by total surprise this year- Gina is a normal housewife, with two children and a loving husband. Her life gets completely turned upside down however, when it's revealed that her husband is a brutal and sadistic serial killer. Although Gina knew nothing about it, the internet does not believe her and her and her kids are forced to go under cover and live their life on the run. They start to settle somewhere until a young woman is found dead near their home. It starts to look like a copy-cat of her husbands has caught up with them. This is a serious thriller that you won't be able to put down!

Final Girls
This is part horror, part thriller. I loved this one and read it in record time! Full review HERE

Roanoke girls
Another brilliant thriller, disturbing at times but again, another proper page turner. Review HERE

The Kind Worth Killing
I loved this one. Perfect for anyone who really enjoys psychological thrillers. There's lots of books claiming to be psychological thrillers but that don't quite meet the mark- not the case here! Full review HERE.

The Dry
I also just got this one for 99p on Kindle (absolute book bargain hunter) and is another bestselling thriller released this year. FBI agent, Aaron Falk is called back to his hometown for the funeral of his best friend, Luke, who 20 years ago was his alibi when he was accused of murder. It looks like there's more to Luke's death than first appears and with that, long buried lies from Aaron's past start to come to the surface. 


Bonus suggestion; All The Missing Girls. Another great thriller, review HERE!


And that is the lot! 
Have you read any of these?
Have you any other good suggestions?
To the comments!
XX

Monday, 4 December 2017

Lush Star of Wonder | Christmas 2017

I mentioned the Star of Wonder in my 2017 Christmas Gift Guide (HERE) and promised I'd take a closer look at it, in case you wanted to know exactly what you had to look forward to!
I think you can't ever go wrong with a present from The Body Shop or Lush under the tree; they're universal pleasers. Everyone loves them because their products work, but also feel fun and different. I also love them both because they are cruelty free and in particular, Lush are making a concerted effort to reduce their packaging, something I'm trying to do myself so it feels like doing some good with your beauty products!

Lush Star of Wonder

Honestly, there's so many wonderful gift sets from Lush that you could get any size, shape or price that you want and come away with an ideal gift but I think the Star of Wonder is particularly special. Here's what's inside:

Lush Star of Wonder

  • Shoot For The Stars Bath Bomb
  • Star Light Star Bright Bath Melt
  • Naked Shower Gel Snow Fairy
  • Naked Shower Gel Twilight
  • Naked Body Conditioner Snow Fairy

Lush Star of Wonder

So these are the newbies. Snow Fairy and Twilight are bestsellers in their usual shower gel format and to cut down on plastic packaging, Lush are bringing out "Naked" shower gels this year. Same great scents, same great body cleansers, just better for the environment. You can lather these up in your hands, get lots of bubbles and inhale the sweet scent!
The smaller pink pot is the Naked Body Conditioner Snow Fairy. I hadn't used a body conditioner until Lush's African Paradise, which I loved. That was in one of their reusable black pots, but they've gone one step further and made this one without packaging. This is great for dry skin- shower, apply this on wet skin all over before rinsing off to get softer skin stepping out of the shower. 

Lush Star of Wonder

There of course, has to be a bath bomb in there. I've used Shoot For The Stars a few times before and I love it. This is a tropical blue explosion that fills your bath with a gorgeous, relaxing scent and Brazilian orange and bergamot essential oils to soften your skin. 

Lush Star of Wonder

I was really excited to see one of the "Fun" products in there as it's one I've never tried but always wanted to! You can use this in a few ways- use it as play dough and make your own very pink Christmas angel for the bath, crumble some off under the tap for bubbles, or use as soap in the shower. All with the classic candy floss scent of Snow Fairy. 

Lush Star of Wonder

And finally, the real star of the show, literally! This fella is what's covered all the other products in silver glitter! Star Light Star Bright is a bath melt, which means you can pop it straight into your bath or, break some of it off to make it last longer. It's packed with Murumuru butter and ginger and lime oils so it makes the bath water silky soft. The perfect Christmas treat!

You can find out more HERE or in-store. 


Would you love to wake up to this on Christmas morning too?!
What's your all time favourite Lush product?
XX



*This blog post features products that were provided for review. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, as always. 



Thursday, 30 November 2017

Marks & Spencer Beauty Advent Calendar 2017!

This is my second year of getting this advent calendar and my blog post on it last year went down very well so here we are again! This is more of a heads up about what to expect to find in it and how much it is etc. because I am not one of those people (weirdos) who can open an entire advent calendar in one day. You'll just have to wait and if you do want to see what's in it every day, I'll be opening each door on my Insta stories HERE

Marks & Spencer Beauty Advent Calendar 2018

So there's 25 days to open (we're already doing well, some calendars only have 12...looking at YOU Zoella and Charlotte Tilbury) and it contains all products from the Marks & Spencer Beauty Hall. That means the likes of Stila, Nuxe, Rodial, Korres, Emma Hardie, Nails Inc etc. 

I'm particularly looking forward to trying the following:

  • Gatineau Rejuvenating Cream
  • Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm (this was in last years calendar too and I LOVED it)
  • Nuxe Scented Shower Oil
  • Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
  • Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose
  • Korres Wild Rose Advanced Repair Sleeping Facial
To name but a few!


Marks & Spencer Beauty Advent Calendar 2018

All this can be yours by spending €40 in store (they're sold out online) on fashion, beauty or home and then another €40 on the calendar. If that sounds like a lot, bear in mind that the average price for a beauty calendar is well above that and this way you can spend the other €40 on decorations, or if you're smart like me, you'll get the most super comfortable jeggings, as recommended by CherrySue. They're only €20 each so you can get a second pair, or also like me, a new woolly hat for the super cold Dusseldorf Christmas markets next weekend. Woop!

Or you could just buy €40 worth of a Christmas present for someone, it's all good!

Have you bought a beauty advent calendar this year? 
XX



*This is not a sponsored post, I have not been paid or provided with the products discussed.



Monday, 27 November 2017

Christmas Present Ideas 2017!

This has become a yearly tradition, and one I probably would have stopped doing had I not heard from a few men that they find these extremely helpful when looking for presents for their female significant others, something I love hearing!

I'll have my usual book suggestion post up too, so keep an eye out for that.

Beauty:



This Works Sleep set is perfect for anyone who struggles with insomnia, or for new parents, or even eople who work night shifts etc. I've tried a few of the products in this, including the candle and the famous pillow spray and they're lovely products that do actually work! This one is €96, but you can find plenty of smaller sets to suit every budget. Find it HERE.

NYX are known for their gorgeous lip creams in shades named after various cities. Finally there's a Dublin one! To make it even more special it comes with an eyeshadow palette too. £15, HERE.

You can't ever go wrong with a Lush set- I have the Star of Wonder to show you this year, I'll do a proper review on the contents because there's some new products in there most of us won't know about so keep an eye out for that! This fella is jam packed, £36.95, HERE and in store, of course.

The Body Shop do amazing advent calendars every year (fun fact- they were the first company to do beauty advent calendars so they're the original and best!). This time they have a New Years advent calendar that means your loved one has a present every day to open from Christmas to New Years, the ideal advent gift! €59.50, buy in store!


I've included so many e.l.f sets because they're unreal value so they'd make perfect stocking fillers but they're also really good products, none of which are tested on animals AND they've only just come to our shores so the beauty lover in your house more than likely won't have anything from them! Perfect! Left to right; 4 Piece Lip Laquer set, €20, 4 Piece Medium Brow Kit, €25, 3 Piece Highlight and Glow set, €25, Double the Drama Eye Kit, €25. E.L.F is available in Penneys & pharmacies all over the country.

The Clarins Double Serum [Hydric & Lipidic System] has been one of my favourite products all year (reviewed HERE). I got the one I'm currently using at a blogging event, for review, but the previous bottle I had came from a set like this that I bought last Christmas. It's an expensive product so a set like this is good value, you also get to try out an Instant Light lip Comfort oil in Honey and an eye make-up remover and you get a new toiletry bag in the process! Woop! Normally €72, currently €61.20 HERE.
Thierry Mugler has a new perfume out their year. I've loved the scents that came before this one, including Alien and Angel and one of my work friends has been wearing this new one; Mugler Aura. It's good! That's a 50ml eau de parfum with a 5ml miniature to pop in your bag. Normally €89, currently €72.25, HERE
Lastly is one for the fellas cause I'm thoughtful that way! This is a great Clarins set, including a wash bag, shower gel & shampoo, revitalising gel, cleanser and serum. Himself always has dry skin so sets like this are the business. Normally €69, but HERE for €55.20, (only available from Brown Thomas & Arnotts).

Stocking Fillers:


I'm giving just random ideas here; all the Harry Potter stuff in Penneys are really reasonably priced, with loads to chose from- mugs, socks, scarves, etc. Aside from that, there's great beauty sets, slippers, scarves, hats and gloves in Penneys also. Finally, check out Paperchase for the best tree decorations- they're super kitsch, made of glass (so they feel a bit fancier) and in lots of unusual shapes, like this aubergine, which I love!

Truly Useful Presents:


Keep cup's are the wave of the future. We're loading up our landfills daily with huge amounts of disposable coffee cups- they can't be recycled cause most of them are lined with polythylene, a truly disturbing thought. These range from €11.95 up to €24.95, depending on what style and size you go for. They're easily washed and are portable plus most coffee places are used to these now and will be happy to accommodate! Available HERE.

This Skinny Dip London portable phone charger is a bit pricey at £25, you'll probably find a cheaper one in Penneys, but no guarantee it'll work as well. Plus the dinosaur print- awesome! HERE.

Personally, I always want to lash on an audio book or some music when I'm cooking or showering and these mini wireless speakers seem ideal for that! Plus the panda is adorable! €11.39 HERE.

You can't go wrong with an Agenda for the truly organised (or to help the non-organised), Ban.do (mentioned below) do good'uns too but this one from Kate Spade is classy and pretty. €42, HERE.


Luxurious/Romantic Gifts:



The Cashmere jumper is €149 (HERE) which is a lot but it's cashmere, so you get what you pay for. M&S always do a good range of these and if it's too patterned for you, it also comes in grey/white and there's plenty of plain grey, cream, striped etc. jumpers. I'd suggest caution with the size of this one by the way, the comments online all indicate it's oversized.

Himself has previously bought me the beautiful Double Ring Infinity necklace from my fave jeweller, Chupi and I wear it every day. I get compliments on it constantly because although it's not an unusual style, the twig mould it's made with makes it unique. Plus it goes with everything! €169, HERE.

Sass and Boho are a luxury Irish brand that makes diffusers, candles and home fragrances. This year they have a Christmas scent called Oíche Nollaig (love it) with a warming blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and a hint of burning firewood and juicy clementine. Apart from wanting to eat it, it sounds like the perfect luxury gift for a Winter's evening. €27 HERE.

This You're my Lobster mug comes in at a whopping €11.39, so it's definitely more on the romance side than the luxury side, but how sweet! Available HERE.


Fun/Novelty Presents:




Gin is all the rage at the minute and if you want to give something to go with your bottle of Gunpowder or whatever your loved ones tipple of choice is, then the Gin Purse from Tatty Devine is fun and somewhat practical...I'm not sure how many coins you'll fit in there but think of all the comical photos you can take on a night out, pretending to drink from it?! €17.09 HERE.

What's better than Beer Pong? Prosecco Pong, of course! Also available in a gin version. €14.85, HERE.

I picked this Ban.do flask up while away in the states recently cause they're cheaper then they are at home but even at that, these are only €12.95. Worth it for the craic you'll have drinking your coffee out of this while making direct and unbroken eye contact with your colleagues. I can't do that unfortunately, cause it'd be unprofessional (ahem) but I can live vicariously through the rest of yis! Buy HERE.

Look, I'll be honest, I want these Alien slippers myself cause for some reason, they remind me of the Zig and Zag ones I had and loved as a nipper. They're €18.92, HERE but I might wait til they're reduced!


That's the lot for now, but as I hear of more, I'll pop them up on the Facebook page. I hope that's been even slightly helpful in your present planning! Let me know if you've started your Christmas shopping already- where's your go-to for gift buying?
XX




Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Sephora Shopping List 2017!

We're off on our holidays stateside again soon and that can mean only one thing. Not just that Himself is in Extreme Planning Mode (he has maps) again but that I will be visiting the beauty mothership; Sephora. I'll also be in Korea Town and China Town so there'll be some Asian beauty buying in my not-too-distant future.
And so, I do my type of planning; a shopping list! Hurrah! 
Let me know in the comments what I simply HAVE to buy. Chances are I may well have already have it, given my beauty-loving ways, but I always appreciate the suggestion. I've done a fair bit of blog-reading and Pinterest scouring for inspiration, and these are what I'm thinking:


(note that Himself knows much better than to ever question my make-up purchases but I really love this meme so I still wanted to pop it up...I also need to ask you to ignore that missing 're' in you're.)


Skincare
Y'all know by now that I'm all about my skincare and K beauty in particular does some really great products for a youthful glow so for that, I'll be looking at things like that Watermelon Sleep Mask, which is a big deal at the minute. Not sure what it actually feels or smells like yet but I will investigate further! Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask is the one you've seen all over Instagram; bloggers with bright purple face masks, looking very Alien-esque...I'm intrigued!
I just used up an overnight mask from Fresh that I bought in New York two years ago so I'm keen to see what their new Vitamin Nectar masks are like. The Belif aqua Bomb was another sample I tried and really liked and the Farmacy products come recommended by my sister after she discovered them in a Sephora set I bought her, not unlike the one picture below. I love those Sephora sets- it's a great way to try out new products plus you get lots of mini sizes, which are great for travel, save you money and make you feel like a giant- bonus! I'll probably get a few of the Sephora own brand sheet masks too as they're super handy. The Biossance eye gel is a super lightweight product that helps increase circulation around your eye, thus helping those dark circles! Sephora apparently can't keep it in stock..so good luck to me! I've been using a mini of the Dr.Jart+ Ceramidin for a while now and my skin seems to like it so I may get a bigger size. They also do some very space-agey looking hydrating masks so I'm gonna check them out too. I'm desperate to try something from Drunk Elephant! They're pricey but come highly recommended! Obviously I won't be buying ALL of these so I'll have to do some back-of-the-hand testing in-store and be very selective!!



Make-Up:
There's not a huge amount of make-up stateside that we can no longer get at home. In the last couple of years, Wet n' Wild, Kat Von D, Too Faced, ELF, Milani, Huda Beauty, and Physician's Formula, amongst others have all come to Ireland so really I'm mostly looking at Tarte, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Fresh and Bite Beauty for something a bit different.



Fairy Drops Waterproof mascara is a Japanese brand, I've been informed that it can be found in Asian stores in San Fran and LA and it's kind of a must. It's reached cult status amongst beauty bloggers, and even though I'm pretty loyal to my YSL mascara, I really want to try this. It's been a while since I had an Anastasia Beverley Hills Brow Wiz in my life and I need a new one! I've tried all the dupes and they're just not the same. I had a little test of my friend's Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer and now I need my own! We can get these via QVC here but I want to try it out again in person. It Cosmetics are sold in Ulta so I'll be on the hunt for this CC Cream, which is another beauty blogger fave.


I love Fresh's Sugar lip balms and I used up a tube of their rose one last year, which is lovely. The Lip Caramel Hydrating Balm is a new release for them and sounds good! Flower Cosmetics is Drew Barrymore's make up brand and is (unfortunately) exclusively sold in Walmart. I'll be buying more of these jumbo kohl liners in brown, they're the absolute business and really good value! The bunnies are just to symbolise Tony Moly products, a Korean brand that I love! Lastly there, is one of the lipsticks from Bite Beauty. I bought their Lip Mask the last time I was over and I absolutely love it, I'm hoping the lipsticks will be as moisturising. 

My Best Buy of the year so far has been the Too Faced Peach Palette, which I use pretty much daily. I love the shades in it- the shimmers and the mattes are so pigmented and work really well on blue eyes. This is a new release from the brand; a peach palette of only mattes, which look stunning! As far as I know, this is a Sephora exclusive, so we can't get it over here (although I could be wrong there), making it something I'll be seeking out for sure!

And that's that, apart from the "sucker aisle" as I like to call it- those shelves as you queue for the till that contain all the adorable minis of brands you've never tried but always wanted to, perfume rollerballs and things you don't need but all of a sudden, very badly want. 

Have I chosen wisely?
What have I missed!
To the comments!
XX









Sunday, 15 October 2017

Clarins Everlasting Compact | Foundation Review

This is a brand new release for Clarins; a long wearing, matte powder foundation in a compact to take with you on the go. This is also a new one for me! 
I'm not sure I've ever actually used a powder foundation. Feel free to gasp in horror at this stage of the proceedings but bear in mind that I have dry skin so I've pretty much always been about the dewier liquid foundations, a powder feels counter-intuitive for dry skin. Add to that, I've always wondered how well a powder foundation can actually apply. Does it cover what you want to cover?
Well, Clarins describe this as an "a timeless compact powder foundation to achieve an ultra matte complexion that goes anywhere with you and minimises dark spots, imperfections and redness, as well as signs of stress". 

Clarins Everlasting Compact

Clarins also suggest it provides 15 hours of matte coverage with no need for touch ups and that it won't create a "mask" effect. This is all good news for me, I don't like a very heavy foundation look but I guess the repeated use of the word "matte" did ring some alarm bells for my dry skin! 
I haven't tried the 15 hours of coverage as I pretty much never have make up on my face for that length of time, but I can say it stayed on well for 8 hours. It's a super soft and finely milled powder and it applies like a dream. Having said that, I don't have dry patches but I would worry it might catch on them if you did, in spite of how lovely it is to apply. It is still a powder, after all.

Clarins Everlasting Compact

Packaging wise, it's beautifully sleek and lightweight with a mirror and an application sponge that makes it supremely handy for travel, or indeed touch ups, if you found you needed to do so. Other good news is that it has an SPF of 9, not so bad for Winter time and it comes in 13 shades. The shade I have, 108 Sand, is slightly too dark for me normally but works well when I have tan on. 


So, on to the application itself. I prepped for this foundation as I do all of them; cleanse, serum, moisturiser, primer. I used the given sponge for some of my face and a powder foundation brush for the rest and it applied very well with both. 
It definitely has a matte finish and I have to say, it felt weird to me the first time I wore it- I'm just so not used to that sensation! The more I've used it since though, I've found it to actually sit quite comfortably on my skin and furthermore, I absolutely love that you can only apply a small amount and still feel like you've put on your make up. Liquid foundations can be tedious to apply and can take time you might not necessarily have but this is really easy. If I'm doing something or going out for the evening, I'll put on a bit more (see photo below) and build it up. Yesterday though I was just popping out for breakfast in a local cafe and couldn't be bothered with much so I just applied a light layer of this and it gave me a nice glow, without looking overdone. 


If you're still not sure, take a look at the before and after!



I promise that even though they look completely different, neither photo is filtered! Both photos were taken in natural daylight, at the same time of day. No filter, no photoshop. Look how healthy I look in the second one! In the first photo, I'm wearing eye make up and have filled in my brows only, in the second I've added Clarins Everlasting foundation, concealer, bronzer on my neck to even things out and Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in Pillow Talk.

This for me, goes to show that it's always worth breaking out of your comfort zone. With blogging, I've certainly done that but even at my old age blogger status (five years and counting) I can do with mixing things up a bit and trying new formulas, new shades and new ideas, basically! 

If you haven't tried powder foundation but are keen to give it a go, I think this is an ideal option. It's so convenient- pop it in your bag and top it up later in the day if needed, no mess, no fuss. 

If you have dry skin and are worried about powder, bear in mind that you will need to prep your skin properly beforehand and if you suffer from dry patches, you may want to avoid. 

Have you a fan of powder foundations?
Which is your favourite?
To the comments!
XX


Saturday, 7 October 2017

10 Stephen King Books To Read This Halloween

I normally do a Halloween book list at the time of year; creepy and or downright terrifying books that I intend to read for the season that's in it, but I thought I'd do something a little different, considering all of the Stephen King love that's going around at the minute. I actually can't believe that I haven't done a blog post on this before, given my King super fan status but better late than never.


This is not an exhaustive list, King is a prolific writer; I'm trying but I don't think I'll ever get through his entire back catalogue. Nor is this in any particular order, all the books featured here are ones that I love, no more, no less than each other. I've also read plenty more of his books than what features here but I guess these are the ones that have stayed with me the longest. If you think you know the story because you've seen the film, and that you don't need to read the book, think again. As with all King adaptations, so much of the finer descriptive work and backstory goes missing when it's transformed onto the big screen. This is a timing issue- too much story to fit into an hour and a half/two hours. I'm gonna assume that you, the reader are a King novice for the purpose of this post and go right ahead and explain the storyline of each novel.


I've got a weird love and fascination for his writing. It's often disturbing, scary and bizarre but it's also funny, emotive and extremely clever. I love the many pop culture references, the descriptions of small town Americana and the "Easter eggs" from his own work that are peppered throughout his books. "Easter eggs", in case you think I've gone mad, are the references that are hidden in a book, film, TV show etc. that are placed there specifically as a treat for fans. King does this with aplomb- mentions of killer clowns, "army experiments gone wrong, like that movie, The Mist", the Overlook Hotel, etc. are really enjoyable for utter book nerds like myself when spotted somewhere unexpected. The more of his books you read, the more you'll realise they're all connected and exist in their own little King Universe. Not a place you'd want to live in, sure, but it's the perfect location to get lost in a great story!


The Shining
I was obsessed with the film long before I read the book and for some reason, I chose the time I was very ill in hospital to work my way through this 500 long page-turner. Jack Torrance is a budding writer and part time teacher. He's struggling to make ends meet for him, his wife Wendy and son Danny and so he takes a job offer as a janitor in a hotel during the winter months when its doors will be closed. The family drive on up to the foreboding Overlook Hotel, where they're warned about the dangers of isolation, cold, dark weather and cabin fever. Jack thinks they can handle it and so they're left to their own devices to keep an eye on the boiler and general maintenance. Jack plans to write his novel now he has peace and quiet but the force of evil residing in the hotel has other ideas. Little Danny meanwhile, has "the shining', an unwanted ability to communicate with the dead. Unfortunately for Danny, there's lots of dead people in The Overlook Hotel and they all want to play with him. Let me tell you that this book scared the actual bejaysus out of me. I remember reading this in my hospital bed and debating about whether or not I should attempt to go asleep after a particularly terrifying passage. Forget everything you know about the film, this is where its at. I'd also recommend the sequel, Doctor Sleep.
Be prepared to be scared forevermore of; topiary animals, hotels, abusive fathers/husbands/men in general (to be fair) and boilers.

Carrie
King's first book and the one his wife Tabitha, fished out from the trash and told him to persevere with. G'wan Tabitha! Carrie is a marginalised teenage girl. She's bullied by her peers for being "weird". Her mother is extremely religious and so they both live in relative poverty- Carrie's clothes are old and unfashionable and because her mother thinks it's sinful, she has never explained to her what menstruation is. Carrie then thinks she is dying when she gets her first period in school and just to compound matters for her, all the mean girls are there to witness her breakdown and torment her even more. One of her schoolmates feels bad for bullying her so makes her boyfriend agree to take Carrie to the prom. All the other bullies have a different idea though, and plan to humiliate Carrie as much as they possibly can. Unfortunately for them, they don't realise that the onset of Carrie's period has given her telekinesis and she will get her revenge for how she's been mistreated her entire life. This is a tricky one cause you do feel very sorry for Carrie, she's a tragic figure, but King being King just pushes the boundaries that little bit to the point where you want her to stop. This is a pretty quick read so if you're a King newbie, it's a good one to start with.
Be prepared to be scared forever more of; teenage girls, religion and high school proms, I guess.

Misery
Another excellent film adaptation, but I felt the book put me right into the main characters shoes so I got double the terror! Paul Sheldon is a very successful writer. He's the author of a series of romance/drama novels whose main character, Misery Chastain, he is desperate to be rid of. She's haunted his career and so, with relief, he writes the final in the series, where he finally kills off Mercy. His tradition upon completing a book is to drive up to a cabin in Colorado where he enjoys a bottle of champagne and a cigar but the roads are snowed in and he gets into a terrible car accident. His biggest fan, Annie Wilkes saves him from the wreckage but instead of bringing him to the hospital, she takes him home where she tells him she'll nurse him back to health..he just has to write a new book the way she wants it where Misery lives. Annie isn't in any way mentally stable and becomes Paul's jailer and tormentor. Good sweet Jesus, the horrors poor Paul has to go through. Even the description of pain in this book is so very real that it can be difficult reading at times, but it is oh so brilliantly written. This was another one that I read into the long hours of the night, sat bolt upright, adrenaline pumping through my veins, hoping Paul would win.
Be prepared to be scared forevermore of; nurses, small animal figurines, being bed-bound, and hobbling (that's ankle bashing with a sledgehammer), if you already weren't, for some reason.

IT.
OK, deep breath for this one. I only read this book last year. I'd been putting it off because the TV mini series back in 1990/1991 scared the living daylights out of me and I didn't even really see it (my sisters were watching it, they made me sit with my back to it so I heard everything and peeked around in time to see goddamn Pennywise and his massive array of teeth). Himself and I re-watched it a few years back (lads, we rented a DVD version, so that should age us even further) and although it has aged incredibly badly, the concept was still scary. Fast forward to last October then and I thought it would be the ideal time to finally read IT, and so I got all 1,200 pages of it on Audible where some voice actor proceeded to scare the crap out of me for the following two months. I listened to this primarily walking to and from work and so many times I found myself stopped in my tracks, internally screaming at something absolutely horrifying that was taking place in my headphones. Pennywise is just a representation of an unspeakable evil that's lived in Derry since the beginning. It reappears every 27 years to feed by luring children and then eating them and It takes the shape of whatever your biggest fear is. That varies from child to child obviously, providing a rich and imaginative storyline that keeps you scared witless for the entire book. If you've seen the new movie, which was great, I'd recommend reading the book now as it combines all the lovely nostalgia from the first half, where the kids fight Pennywise, to the newer setting of the second half of the book, where the kids, now adults, must return to Derry and take on the evil yet again. Plus, you'll be ahead of everyone else before the next film comes out!
Be prepared to be scared forever more of; clowns (although you really should have been anyway, to be honest. What's wrong with you?), lepers, old women, sewers, syphilis, storm drains, balloons, abandoned houses, being a girl, bullies, small town Maine, birds, werewolves, libraries, Chinese food, perverts, abusive husbands/fathers/men in general, blood, bathrooms, being a small child.


11/22/63
This is a more recent book from King and one that I recommend the most to people who want to read King but don't like horror. This is a time travel novel that brings us back to the 1950's and poses the question, "would the world be a better place if John F. Kennedy had never been shot?".
Jake Epping is a high school teacher in a modern day setting and comes across an essay written by a mature student; a janitor who fifty years ago survived a violent assault by his father on Halloween night that killed his mother, his siblings and left Harry disabled. When Jake is approached by a friend and the local diner owner who tells him he can travel through time, he sceptically agrees to try to change history, firstly by helping Harry, and if that works he can work on saving J.F.K, as is his friend's goal. Jake doesn't realise it yet but every action he takes is changing something else, and not always for the better. I absolutely devoured this book. I loved it so much. That's a period of time I find fascinating anyway but the book deals with much more than just time travel; there's a love story, a whole host of perfectly drawn characters and even though it's not technically a horror, it has plenty of spine chilling moments. I laughed, I cried, I was shocked to my core but also thoroughly entertained. Oh and you best believe I sweated absolute buckets with the sheer tension of it when it gets to the part on the grassy knoll. I'm jealous of anyone who hasn't read it yet..go read, now!
Be prepared to be scared forever more of; sledge hammers, small town Maine, Russia, abusive husbands/fathers/men in general, the government, time travel.

Under The Dome
Another more recently written work, I'm actually currently reading this one so I can't give my full verdict yet but I'm completely absorbed and the story has fully pulled me in. Another winner! Chester's Mill is a small town in Maine where on a crisp October day (congrats to me for starting a book in the month in which it's set- not planned at all) the town is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible border. It takes the town's inhabitants a day to figure it out after several deaths and car crashes. Now the issue becomes how can the town generators survive? Will the patients in the hospital die? Who will take over the police force? Will there be enough food? All of that is aside from the very obvious; what is it, how did it get here and how will they get out? As with so many of King's books, the main threat is supernatural and obviously scary but the real worry becomes mankind itself. We're introduced to both good and very bad people living under the dome but who will survive? I'm loving this one, it's set in the modern day, so there's plenty of mentions of the internet, blackberries, iPods etc. but at the same time, it has that old school small town Stephen King vibe that's associated so clearly with his books. The perfect mix!
Be prepared to be scared forever more of (based on my reading so far); people but let's face it, mostly men, religion, terrifying invisible dome structures that effectively trap you with some undercover psychopaths, small town Maine, police brutality.

Pet Sematary
I still think about this one quite regularly. Another story that made my hairs stand on end. King calls this one his scariest book and I think he may be right. Louis Creed is a doctor, moving to small town Maine (guess what I'll be telling you to be scared of at the end of this? I've actually been to Maine and it's rather lovely but you should probably still be scared) for a job and bringing his wife Rachel, son Gage and daughter Ellen with him. They move into their new home and instantly become friends with the elderly couple living across the road. Their new neighbour, Judd, brings the family to see the local "pet sematary", so spelt as it was created by a group of children as a place to bury their pets when they died. The family are a little freaked out but think no more of it. In Louis' first day in his new job a young man is brought in following a road traffic accident with most of his head missing. Louis dreams he's visited by the young man that night and although the dream seemed very real, well it can't be cause he's dead, right? WRONG. You're in Maine now, buddy. Things go from bad to worse after that and I won't go into it cause if I had to be close to tears with fear and stress then you should too. Let me just say one name though. Zelda. *shudders intensely*
Be prepared to be scared forever more of; kindly old men that seem helpful, cats, pet cemeteries, actual people cemeteries, road traffic accidents, the dead, small town Maine, children (always creepy).

Salem's Lot
King's ode to Vampire movies and or Dracula, the novel. This might be one of my lesser favourites but it's still up there cause several parts of it terrified me good-o.  Guess where Salem's Lot is situated? You guessed it, Maine!! Ben Mears, a writer and former resident of Salem's Lot, returns to town, still haunted and fascinated by the old Marsten House, a forbidding and ghostly building overlooking the town. He plans to write a book about it and starts dating a local women, Susan, and all is going well except that the new owner of the house is so mysterious and then of course, people start to go missing. Including a local boy that is found almost entirely drained of his blood. He's buried but begins to make nightly visits to his little brothers window, knocking from the outside and begging to be let in *cue blood curdling scream*. The head vampire himself is not overly scary but the build up and the tension in this book is masterful.
Be prepared to be scared forever more of; Vampires (obvs), small town Maine, night-time, small children, windows.


Mr. Mercedes
Another relative newbie, this is the first part of a trilogy about retired detective, Bill Hodges. The book gives us a really shocking introduction to the killer, Mr. Mercedes and his first known crime, for which he is never caught. Bill is not enjoying his retirement; he's begun to put on weight, feels he has no purpose and is considering shooting himself with his service revolver. That is until Mr. Mercedes begins to send him taunting emails begging him to play the game and try and catch him, or more people will get hurt. This is a bit gory in places but is really more of a thriller, so it's another good one for those who don't love horror. It's also now a TV series starring Brendan Gleeson and from what I've seen, it's pretty good. This book was my favourite in the trilogy but when you read this one, you'll be hooked and will want to read the rest anyway!
Be prepared to be scared forevermore of; clowns (as always), psychopaths, cars, computers, computer nerds, inappropriate mother/son relationships, burgers, retirement, ice cream vans.

The Stand
I'm saving the longest for almost last. I think it took me most of a Summer to read this but it was so worth it. This is pure dystopia at its very best. A bio-engineered virus, produced in a U.S government lab is accidentally released, and within a couple of weeks almost all of humanity has succumbed to a super flu that kills within days. Those who are left, quickly fall into two categories; good and evil. The two groupings begin to have the same dreams every night about two mysterious figures; Mother Abigail, a kindly and wise old black woman, telling them to come to her in Colorado and Randall Flagg, a dark shadowy figure telling them to come to Vegas. Bad enough to have an apocalypse thanks to a virus but Flagg intends to destroy humanity altogether and this book feels quite biblical because of that. Flagg could definitely be seen as the Devil's representative on Earth and Mother Abigail, as God's representative but it's really more about the individual characters and what they bring to the storyline. This is an absolutely epic read and one of the very best from King- it's a mixture of fantasy and horror but will make you think on a deeper level about humankind and why we are here in the first place- not always what you would have expected from either of those genres.
Be prepared to be scared forevermore of; the flu/common cold/any randomer even barely coughing near you on the Luas, viruses in general, pyromaniacs, the Devil, the sort of people who can survive an apocalypse (I'll be gone first anyway- I have no survival skills and the people who don't have those but survive anyway, survive cause they kill everyone else), the government.

Bonus round: The Mist
The Mist is a novella so will be a super quick read if you're looking for just one of these to add to your Halloween reading list. You can read the others throughout the rest of the year!
It's actually the first King book I read and I became a lifelong fan based on this one alone. You might have seen the movie adaptation a few years ago that has the most depressing ending of all time (different to the book) but if you haven't and even if you have, I'd recommend giving it a read. I think about this book constantly. What I would do in a similar situation (I think I'd just stay in the grocery store, I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to face the giant spiders and all the winged things) and if I too would become a follower of local religious lunatic, Mrs Carmody. I'd like to think not, but you know, extreme circumstances and all.
Basic plot here; David sets off from his (say it with me folks) SMALL TOWN MAINE home, bringing his son to the grocery store after a violent storm that night. By the time they get to the parking lot a sudden mist has begun to creep across the town and with it comes gigantic, stomach churning creatures who only want to eat you and make you suffer while they do it. Gigantic spiders that shoot webs of acid, anyone? Nope, didn't think so. Oh god, the scuttling. And the flying ones. Vomit. Vomit all over my keyboard. Anyways, David and his son become trapped in the supermarket with a whole host of random people (again, who's more of a threat, the supernatural creatures or the people surrounding you?) who are under constant attack from the beasts living in the mist outside. They need medicines but the pharmacy is next door...oh and they may eventually need to escape but can they get to the car in one piece and how far does the mist even go?
Prepare to be scared forevermore of; Mist (obvs), the government, viruses, people but let's face it, mostly men, gigantic winged creatures that want to eat you, gigantic scuttling insects that want to eat you, gigantic acid spitting spiders that want to kill you and use you as a nest for their many evil spider babies, supermarkets, religion, small town Maine.


Before you start any of these, I obviously recommend clearing some space in your freezer, a la Joey Tribbiani.


And that's your lot. Give me a couple more years and I'll return with a part two! Speaking of which, any recommendations for what to read next? I hear the Dark Tower series is good, any thoughts? I'm definitely more old school King but I'm hoping to read them all at some stage so it's more of a matter of what to read first! 
To the comments!
XX