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Wednesday 28 November 2012

Christmas Gift Guide- Books!

I love present shopping: hunting for and finding things for my loved ones that I know they'll appreciate is one of the best feelings ever. Full of the joys of Christmas spirit, so I am. Like Tiny Tim. Except without the crutches. As it happens I've actually bought most of my Christmas presents so I can rest slightly easier now and I can also impart my knowledge to you all here, in a series of gift guides.
First up, books. You pretty much can't go wrong with buying a book for someone- it's generally easy enough to suss out what sort of genre the recipient would like but even if it's something they normally wouldn't go for, then all the better- a change is as good as a rest as they say!
Here are my top picks (the links to where you can buy them are the book titles themselves, written in grey and all prices are in either sterling or US Dollars cause I couldn't be arsed converting them. That's just how I roll):

1) Back Story, David Mitchell, £5.99. Comedian, star of Peep Show and columnist for The Observer, I've always been a big fan of Mitchell's unique brand of wit so I can only imagine how funny this collection of his memoirs will be. 2) Moranthology, Caitlin Moran, £8.42. I loved Moran's (a columnist for The Times) hugely popular first book How To Be A Woman- a feminist work of brilliance. Her follow up, Moranthology, discusses everything from binge-drinking to Obama and plenty besides. I haven't read it yet but it looks great. 3) World War Z, Max Brooks, £6.89. I'm reading this at the moment and it's a good'un. It follows how a zombie pandemic would play out across the world- interviews with survivors 10 years after the end of the war. Good clean zombie fun. 4) Vagina: A New Biography, Naomi Wolf, £7.40. I'm also reading this at the moment- Naomi is an author, political consultant and feminist. In Vagina, she explores the link between sexuality and creativity and looks at what it means to be female. Personally, I feel like I'm aware of all of this already but it would be ideal for any budding feminist in your life. 5) I Can Make You Hate, Charlie Brooker, £8.50. Writer and broadcaster Brooker brings us a collection of his articles for The Guardian- his articles are pretty much always laugh out loud funny so this should be great. 6) The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling, £9.00. The most anticipated novel in years- Rowling's first non-Potter book is apparently a much more sedate affair but enjoyable nonetheless. 7) Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel, £8.86. Set in the court of Henry the 8th this follows the rise of Thomas Cromwell and the fall of Anne Boleyn. OK, this is a dodgy one because I read this book's predeccessor Wolf Hall, which won the Booker Prize and although I wasn't a huge fan, plenty of others were. This book has also just won the Booker Prize, so what do I know, eh? 8) Skagboys, Irvine Welsh, £8.18. Skagboys is the prequel to Trainspotting and follows the characters on their journey to becoming heroin addicts (Nothing says Happy Christmas like heroin addiction, am I right?). 9) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky, £4.71. Recently made into a film, this is described as a charming coming-of-age book. I haven't read it yet but it's received really positive reviews. 10) Me Before You, JoJo Moyes, £3.86. A bestseller, this is apparently a total weepie and a bittersweet love story. 11) The Mystery of Mercy Close, Marian Keyes, £7.60. I love Marian. This is her most recent book and follows heroine Helen Walsh- her battle with depression and her search for a missing boyband member. This has also received great reviews.

12) The Walking Dead Compendium: Volume 2, Charlie Adlard and Robert Kirkman, £29.51. Following the story of The Walking Dead and utilising stunning artwork, this is a great option for the zombie lover in your life (this is part 2, part 1 is also available). 13) The Hunger Games Trilogy Classic Boxed Set, Suzanne Collins, £11.99. These books are amazing, I don't know if there's anyone left who hasn't read them but if so, this is a great gift. 14)  I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar, Sharon Eliza Nichols, $9.99. For the grammar pedant. 15) A Song of Ice and Fire (7 volumes), George R. R. Martin, £29.98. A really reasonably priced collection of the Game of Thrones novels. 16) DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book, £27.50. A great option for fans of DC Comics, features beautiful pullout artwork. 17) 101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die, Steven Jay Schneider, £9.99. These 101 books are always a fun read and ideal for those who enjoy making lists! 18) All My Friends Are Dead, Avery Monsen and Jory John, $9.99. This is just very cute, not a proper read but kind of dotey all the same. 19) The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead, Max Brooks, £7.09. Written by himself of World War Z fame, this is a good idea for anyone really- you'll thank me when the zombie invasion starts. 20) 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami, £6.29. 1Q84 is actually 3 novels, this is the first two in one book. These surreal works, based on a fictional Japan in 1984 explores the nature of reality and were big bestsellers. If you're looking for something a bit different, look no further.

21) Vintage Style: Iconic Fashion Looks, Sarah Kennedy, £20.00. Always wanted to look like Marilyn, Debbie Harry or Twiggy but never knew how? Look no further! 22) The Primrose Bakery, Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas, £13.00. Although mostly known for their amazing cupcakes, this lovely book also covers pastries and cakes of all varieties. Nom. 23) Kate: The Kate Moss Book, Kate Moss and Fabien Baron, £50.00. Written by Kate herself (I wonder if she could've wedged another "Kate" onto the cover title), this is a retrospective of the career of one of the most iconic fashion models ever- it looks really interesting. 24) The Wah Nails book of Nail Art, £9.99. Fairly self explanatory, this is perfect for the nail art lover. 25) The Little Paris Kitchen: Classic French Recipes with a Fresh and Fun Approach, Rachel Khoo, £10.86. Featuring beautiful recipes and photos (food porn, very important at all times), if you want to get to grips with French cuisine, this is the book to start with. 26) 100 Years of Fashion, Cally Blackman, £24.95. This book just looks so beautiful- any fashion lover will be delighted to receive this. 27) Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver, £11.99. Following on from his 30 minute meals, which I bought and used loads, this promises even quicker meals while still as delicious. 28) Style Me Vintage: Make-Up, Katie Reynolds, £15.99. This is actually one of a set of three- Style Me Vintage Hair, Clothing and here, Make Up. Very pretty. 29) Gok Cooks Chinese, Gok Wan, £8.86. I watched some of the accompanying series to this, which was really enjoyable. Any budding chefs looking to expand their repertoire into asian cooking will be delighted with this.

So that's the lot! Any of those setting your present-buying spider senses a-tingling?

Sunday 25 November 2012

Lush Haul

As I've previously mentioned my love for all things Lush HERE and HERE this post should come as no surprise. Recently Lush has become my go-to for a quick pick me up when I'm not feeling great and also don't want to spend a small fortune on shower products that are relatively inexpensive but still effective.
Here's my little haul:

Soak and Float Shampoo Bar, 7.90 for 55g.

Lush suggests that "Good carrots grow in good soil", in other words, keep your scalp in good condition and your hair should follow suit. This promises to cleanse hair while bringing relief to sore scalps and unhappy hair (a lot of personification of things take place in Lush). I've always been a bit reluctant to try shampoo bars until Aundrea from Dancing With Disaster highly recommended them and really they're super easy to use- a bit of a rub on wet hair and scalp builds up a good lather, then just wash out as usual. I found this just so excellent, my hair and scalp both feel brilliant afterwards, with a definite improvement to my scalp visible after just two washes.
This particular bar smells of bonfires and cold November nights. I can't even explain how much I love the smell of this, it is a really strong scent but then I'm weird when it comes to my love for the smell of firelighters (I can often be found sniffing the box when lighting the fire-no, really), petrol (I'm known for inhaling the air at petrol stations..again, really) and peat burning (if you've ever visited the Bunratty Folkpark in Clare then you'll know what I'm talking about). Basically what I'm trying to say is, this is a required taste..but a delicious taste! Mmm.

Marilyn Hair Treatment, 11.50 for 225g.

This does exactly what it says on the tin (or recycled black pot), a pre-wash treatment for blondes who want lighter, brighter hair. Containing lots of lovely stuff; chamomile, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, this makes your blonde tresses all shiny and helps prevent a build up of orange tones. Marilyn goes onto dry hair, is left for 20 mins, then shampooed out and conditioner can be put in. This smells lovely- really fresh, like lemons and has definitely improved the overall condition of my hair. A must-have for those with fair hair!

Oatiflix, 8.95 for 75g

This face mask "Cuddles sore, Winter skin with luxurious, rich ingredients". Said lovely contents include oatmeal, fresh organic bananas, ground almonds, illipe butter, vanilla pod and sandalwood oil. This looks and smells edible- you have to store it in the fridge so I'm really hoping Hubster doesn't mistake it for food. Anyway, this is particularly good if you have dry, tight skin, especially in this cold weather. I like to pop this on while I also have a hair mask on-proper pampering session! My skin felt so soft after using this, it really is just a lovely product and I will definitely be repurchasing when it's finished.

Grease Lightning, 7.50 for 45g.

This little wonder gel is a treatment for spots-I had been using Origins Spot On but it was a lot more pricey for a much lesser amount and although it was effective I felt like trying something new. You only need a tiny amount of this, applied directly to the spot so I have a feeling it'll last a good while. It contains literally every spot-fighting ingredient ever; tea tree, lavender (which it smells strongly of), aloe vera, witch hazel and rosemary. All good stuff and so far it's been working really well.

As an aside, I just want to say that I really like the Lush staff- they're always so helpful and really make it a pleasure to shop there. Any other Lush products I should be trying?

Thursday 22 November 2012

An Ode to Buffy The Vampire Slayer

For those of you who were deprived during your teenage years or for those youngsters out there, here's a brief recap on the world of Buffy (just so you'll have an idea of what I'm ranting on about later in the post):
Buffy is the story of a teenage girl who discovers she has supernatural powers which she has been given in order to fight vampires, demons and the forces of darkness. As you do. There's only one Slayer in each generation but generally they die young because of the high level of violence associated with the job. Luckily Buffy has her "Watcher"- Giles, who trains her and provides her with the information she needs to defeat her enemies, thanks to his huge knowledge of the demon world. He works as a librarian in the school in Sunnydale (the library is coincidentally situated directly over the Hellmouth) where Buffy attends. She steadily builds up a close group of friends; Willow, Xander, Angel, Cordelia and Oz- outcasts like herself and they become the "Scooby Gang". They all have their part to play in helping Buffy; research, computer skills, fighting, spells etc to take on the various baddies. Buffy also has the misfortune to be the only slayer ever to fall in love with a vampire (a "good one" though, thanks to a gypsy curse- don't ask)- Angel, a tortured soul who happens to be fairly hot, fortunately for us viewers.
The show ran for seven years and was hugely successful, leading to Buffy magazines and comics, the current love for all things Vampire and also the less brilliant spin-off show, Angel.
Recently I saw a tweet that said that the Buffy franchise is now twenty years old (cause of that awful Luke Perry film from 1992) and even more shocking, that James Marsters, who played Spike is now 50..Aargh. I think we all feel ancient now, right? Before I need to install a stair lift, I'll get on with the many reasons why I loved, still love and would still recommend this show to everyone:

                                          Buffy being a bit of a legend
  • Buffy herself was a great character. Joss Whedon (the shows writer/director/producer, also known for the Avengers and the Cabin in the Woods) wanted to create a world where the small, weak-looking blonde girl isn't automatically the victim, as was always seen in horror movies. Buffy is seriously strong thanks to her superpowers and is a warrior, not to be messed with. She's a leader, is stronger than all the men around her and pretty much always wins. Hurrah!
  • The scooby gang were just such great characters- I LOVED Willow and Xander, Angel was gorgeous, Oz was really cool, I was fond of Giles, I even liked Cordelia and that's saying something. Kennedy and Dawn did grate on me a little bit in later episodes though..
  • It's nerd heaven. The story of a parallel world where vampires, werewolves, witches and monsters of all sorts reside is always going to draw in the nerd contingency. When I was in school, the rest of my class watched wet-blanket Dawson and his massive forehead spout his absurdly large vocabulary- instead, my friends and I were watching Buffy kick ass..far cooler. 
  • The show never took itself too seriously- it was riddled with in-jokes, clever quips and popular culture references, which was a really good thing because given some of the story lines it could easily have become a bit ridiculous if it weren't for that important element of humour.
Buffy Baddies, Hush (bottom left) about the "Gentlemen" who steal your voice so you cant scream while they take out your heart..uurgh..
  • The baddies. While each episode usually had a stand alone storyline with a demon Buffy had to fight, in each series there was also the "Big Bad", an ongoing storyline which usually culminated in the end of the world and a big Buffy v Demon showdown at the end of each series. My personal favourites were Spike, Drusilla and Angelus in Series 2 and The Mayor/Faith in Series 3. Also, the vampires and monsters all looked really scary- amazing make up and costume work. 
  • There was a great soundtrack, real bands played in The Bronze- Sunnydales nightclub. 

  • The love story between Buffy and Angel was really well done and it was absolutely heartbreaking when (SPOILER ALERT, 15 years later) he turned evil in series 2 and she had to kill him to save the world. Sniffle.
  • If you want to watch it now and like me you're heading for 30 then you'll be pleased to know that you're now officially (ahem) old enough to indulge in the Buffy drinking game- there's loads of triggers. For instance; every time Giles takes off and cleans his glasses, every time Buffy and Angel have a tearful interlude, whenever Spike uses British slang, every time someone says "wiggins" etc. There are literally hundreds more so prepare to be hammered.
There's plenty more reasons why I love Buffy, but we really would all be needing stair lifts if I kept going at this rate. What I will say, (lastly!) is that I find it really comforting to re-watch Buffy now- both cause it reminds me of good times when I was younger but also cause, as I've clearly stated, I just love the story lines and the characters. It was a really original concept at the time and to be honest, I'm not sure any TV show aimed at teens has come close to its brilliance since then. So yeah, yis can keep your Twilight and your Vampire Diaries. Nothing beats the original and best!

                                        The last ever episode..

Any other die hard Buffy fans out there?!

P.s. Apparently there's talk of a Hollywood style Buffy-reboot. I am more than unimpressed. They'll make a hames of it!!

Monday 19 November 2012

O.P.I Bond Collection; Goldeneye and The Living Daylights

I'm not a huge Bond fan. Although I liked the most recent attempt, Skyfall (you can read my review HERE), other than that I've only seen the previous two, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and randomly, Goldeneye. I saw Goldeneye at the cinema for a school friend's birthday back in the day (1995 to be precise..oh lord, I'm ancient) and granted I wasn't overly impressed by the film itself but I was drawn to this O.P.I shade of the same name when their Bond collection came out recently.
So here 'tis, in all its glory:

Goldeneye is compromised of two separate fine gold glitters in a clear base and is quite easily applied- no need to spread the glitter out and it dried quick enough. One coat of this is really just a light wash of colour. I used three to get the complete colour on the nail that's in the photos. Wear time was about two days before chips appeared but that was without a top coat, so not too shabby. While I like the fact that this polish is super shiny (every time I catch a glimpse of it, I'm surprised by how bright it is but that could just be my goldfish memory), it does remind me of the colour of the paint that's used on Lucky Cats. You know, Lucky Cats- those ridiculously kitsch ornaments with the waving paw:

I won't lie, that little guy there is mine and while I love him and he sits proudly on my window sill, I don't know if I want my nails to resemble that kind of tacky style. Having said that, this'll be a great polish for Christmas but other than that I probably won't wear it a huge amount, unless I want to blind Hubster every time I lift my cup of tea (which granted, would be a regular occurrence).
Speaking of nails with the potential to blind, here's The Living Daylights on my ring finger:

This is a topcoat with large hexagonal glitter pieces (silver, teal and a copper) suspended in a clear base. I've used polishes like this before, namely this Essence one from the Snow White collection that you can read about HERE and also Deborah Lippman's Bad Romance, which I bizarrely haven't written a post on..I really should rectify that. Anyway, my point is that with ones like this you just have to place the glitter pieces where you want them on the nail- you cant just brush it on like Goldeneye. Thankfully though, this is jam packed with glitter pieces so it's a fairly easy job. As I recall though from the Essence topcoat, this'll be an absolute bags to remove- I used the Bourjois 1 second nail thingy that time so hopefully it'll work for this too. I really like the colours in this together, there's just something really cheerful about it- like the sort of glitter polish I could imagine a clown wearing..not a scary 'IT' style clown, though obviously. Plus it'll be great over loads of different shades- over nudes as well as darker shades in the Winter and bright pops of colour in the Summer. A glitter multi-tasker- hurrah!

*Update- although The Living Daylights was actually not that difficult to get off, Goldeneye was an absolute nightmare to take off and it's made me really reluctant to use it again, other than for nail art.

Have you tried these or any of the other polishes in the Bond range?

Thursday 15 November 2012

"Just F***ing Legislate Already"

Up until now I've managed to keep this blog a happy little place for light and frivolous things and have avoided writing posts on more serious matters- not intentionally, I just feel quite strongly about certain issues and am not sure this is the appropriate place to voice those opinions, because if I started, I'd probably never stop! Having said that, I found myself wide awake in horror, reading articles and tweets until around 2am last night about Savita Halappanavar's untimely death in University Hospital Galway last month and now I feel so angry that I have to write something. When I say I feel angry, really it's more of a potent mixture of anger and sadness. For anyone unaware of what happened, a 31 year old woman went into hospital at 17 weeks pregnant, complaining of pains. She was sadly found to be miscarrying her first baby. This process lasted for three days- three prolonged days where Savita continued to suffer through this awful experience and pain even though both her and her husband repeatedly asked for a termination- these requests were denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present.
In Ireland, although a termination carried out where the life of the mother is at risk is technically legal, there actually is no legislation for this in place so any Doctor who would have performed a termination for Savita could have potentially faced legal proceedings, hence her requests were refused (rather than go into Ireland's long and sordid history on abortion, here's a fairly succinct article on this matter from todays Guardian that explains it all nicely for me).
A D&C was finally carried out once a foetal heartbeat was no longer detected but at that stage it was too late. Savita was brought to ICU immediately post surgery but tragically, she died of septicaemia. The interviews I've read with Savita's husband Praveen have been truly heartbreaking. For the past 24 hours I've been on a loop of being on the constant verge of tears before wanting to punch a's just so hard to comprehend how this could have gone so wrong for this poor woman and her family.
Pro-life groups have come out in force today and have clutched on to anything they can to uphold their sense of self-righteousness, for instance, Health Minister James Reilly saying that he "doesn't think" decisions made in Savita's care were based on religion, even though Savita's husband has said that he was told termination would not be possible because "this is a Catholic country". Brilliant. So Reilly is basing his opinion on nothing at all and simultaneously is also completely ignoring what Mr Halappanavar has said he was told. In turn, Youth Defence have decided to pass this on as if Reilly's baseless thoughts on the matter are of any use to this or, for that matter, any situation. Why should anyone at this stage be relying on what any of this government has to say- Taoiseach Enda Kenny and General Waste of Space (his official title) Ronan Mullen have both come out with pointless and hollow comments today too, again based on nothing but their own closed minded opinions.
So what now? Do we all carry on as usual and allow yet another government get away with not legislating on X? Whatever your opinion on abortion, surely no one would wish a situation like Savita's on anyone- because if you're against terminations for medical reasons you have to understand what that means- it means that you, your mother, daughter, sister or friend could find yourself/herself in this exact same situation with potentially the exact same horrific outcome. We need, as a nation to start caring about women and their reproductive rights. Enda Kenny has previously stated that abortion is not a priority for this government and you know, that coming from Fine Gael is no surprise but Labour have always claimed to be pro-choice and yet have so far done nothing to back that stance. It's time now to get angry (angrier, if you're me) and put our collective feet down.
This past year has seen a worldwide war on women- Colette Brown highlighted this in her article today in The Irish Examiner where she refers to the likes of US politicians; Romney, Ryan, Akin and Mourdock, witlessly voicing their opinions on women's bodies, rape and abortion, which was shocking for most normal people to witness but thankfully they were all defeated in the elections (oh I did a merry dance that day, I can tell you). Over here though, it's been just as bad. I refuse to understand why there has been a complete lack of proper sentencing in the last year for violent criminals who have viciously assaulted women, or why every government since 1992 has failed to legislate for a procedure that could save women's lives. Now this case of a young woman dying it because women are deemed to be less important in our society than men (that's not me getting on my feminist high horse by the way, Enda Kenny has explicitly stated that abortion was not an important issue for this government, as I previously mentioned above)? Or is it because there are practically no female politicians in government to represent us? Or is it because our politicians are self serving liars who don't want to rock the boat? Personally, I believe it's an unhealthy mix of all three. A depressing and sobering thought.
If like me, you are sick and tired of this current state of affairs then there's a few things you can do.
Firstly, please write or email your TD and ask them to legislate for the X case. If you're unsure how to go about this, then check out the National Women's Council of Ireland- it goes through it step by step, which I found really handy. Here's the link for that: NWCI- take action.

Secondly, I've found it really useful to follow these pages on Facebook: Unlike Youth Defence, I trust Women to Decide Their Lives For ThemselvesIrish Feminist NetworkChoice IrelandIrish Choice Network and TFMR Ireland. I follow these pages not only because I support their viewpoints but also because they're another avenue of information, which is always a good thing.

Lastly, if you'd like to show your support for Savita and her family, there will be a protest starting at 1pm at Daunt Square in Cork on Friday the 16th of November, a protest starting outside Debenhams in Limerick at 3pm, also on Saturday the 16th and a vigil held at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin at 4pm Saturday the 17th of November.

Ireland failed Savita, her husband and her family and I for one am ashamed to be Irish today.
If you have any thoughts on this issue, you can comment below- I'd love to read them.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Body Shop Almond Body Butter and Nail & Cuticle Oil

I adore the scent of almond. The Body Shop does a particularly lovely line of almond scented products and I have two of them for review here- Body Butter and Nail and Cuticle Oil.

I love the Body Shops body butters and went through several different varieties a few years ago. In recent times I'd avoided it due to the price- at almost 20 quid they are on the more expensive end of the body moisturiser spectrum but recently there was a sale so I got it for half price.

These body butters are thick but easy to rub in and absorb quickly, they smell amazing and the scent lasts for hours afterwards. I put it to the test recently when I started using it on these really dry patches on my upper arms- after a couple of weeks of use, those patches are pretty much completely cleared up. Huzzah!

The Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil comes in a pen format with a brush tip. You twist the end of the pen and the oil comes out through the brush (like touche eclat), although I wouldn't describe the formula as "oil" as such, more like an oily gel, which makes it quite easy to work with. This also has that same amazing almond-y smell and feels lovely and comforting on the nail. The lid of the pen has a little rubber attachment in the shape of a cuticle stick, so you can apply the oil/gel to the cuticle, leave it for a minute and then push back the cuticle with the rubber lid. As I recall this costs about eleven euro but I can't remember exactly because I used my Body Shop loyalty card to get my "It's your birthday, have a free gift worth a tenner" present, which was a really nice treat. Thanks The Body Shop!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Recently Read- Death Comes To Pemberley, Charlotte Street and Rachel's Holiday.

Death Comes To Pemberley by P.D. James

So the deal with this is that it's a follow on from the Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice (or P & P if you live in my house), although obviously not written by Jane herself..unless she became a very work-orientated zombie. Anyway, this is basically a murder mystery- Captain Denny is found bludgeoned to death in the woods of Pemberley (Darcy's gaff) and the prime suspect is Wickham- who you'll recall was the evil cad from P & P who broke several hearts and ended up marrying Lizzie's younger sister Lydia, amidst a lot of scandal. The book follows his trial and it's effect on those around him. The author utilises the same style of language from the original but annoyingly, also adds in whole sentences from P & P, which just seemed a bit lazy to me. Furthermore, James makes a lot of her own assumptions about the characters- that Lizzie married Darcy largely due to his income and status for instance, which obviously, James is entitled to do- it is her book after all, I just feel that when you're referencing a beloved classic so strongly like this then you have to use the information you have responsibly! Ok, end of rant. To be honest, this isn't a bad read at all, if you're into murder mysteries minus the gore then you'll probably enjoy this. If however, you're a big Austen lover you may find this a little bit lacking.

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace

Dear sweet baby Jesus in the manger, this book took me FOREVER to read. In fact, I think I may actually have started it in May but because it is so incredibly slow moving, I kept putting it down in favour of other books. I'm one of those people that has to finish a book or else it leads to madness on my part so I said I'd persevere. This is the story of Jason Priestley (he shares his name with the Beverley Hills actor, a source of great annoyance to him), a general loser in most areas of life- work, relationships etc, who has a brief encounter on Charlotte St with a beautiful mystery woman. He falls for her immediately. Unfortunately for him he doesn't have the guts to talk to her. Then he realises she's dropped her disposable camera. Now he has her photos and a glimpse into her life, he decides to track her down. Actually, correction, he spends several chapters contemplating whether or not he should track her down. I can see how this could have been an interesting plot device but it just took so long to go anywhere that I felt like it was a bit pointless. I was happy to finish it, if for no other reason than to figure out if anything ever actually happened. If you like extremely protracted storylines (the same way one might like Scarlet Fever, for instance) then this is the book for you. 

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes

I've become a huge fan of Marian Keyes recently so I said I'd go back to the books that kicked off "The Mystery of Mercy Close" etc to get properly acquainted with the Walsh family- the subjects of some of her favourite books. I really love Marian's style of writing; it's relatable, very funny and also a little bit quirky- a great combination! Rachel Walsh is a young Irish woman living in New York who finds herself being forced by her family on a plane back to Dublin to go for treatment to an addiction rehabilitation centre for her drug abuse. She thinks she shouldn't be there of course and pretty much fights every step of the way. Her journey to recovery is thoroughly documented, which at times makes for difficult reading but is very realistic and heart warming (unusual for a book I read to be described as "heart warming" in fairness). I would definitely recommend this one!

Although i have about 6 million books in my to-read pile, I'm always on the lookout for more so, any suggestions for me?!

Saturday 10 November 2012

October Empties!

Naked Boost Revitalising Hair Mask: Not a huge amount to say about this, I used it, my hair disagreed with it and was in a worse state after using it. Then again it did cost me only 20p so not sure I can really complain. Won't be repurchasing.
Clarins Creme Jeunesse de Mains Hand Cream, I mentioned this already HERE so I won't go into detail, nor will I be buying it again.
Dr Hauschka Cleansing Milk. This was my go-to cleanser for years before I discovered Liz Earle, which I much prefer. Don't get me wrong, this is a lovely, gentle cleanser with a very light fragrance and a lot of natural ingredients but at 20 something quid is a bit too pricey especially in comparison to Liz Earle. Don't think I'll ever buy this again to be honest, not while the Hot Cloth Cleanse and Polish and Instant Boost Skin Tonic are available, both of which I also finished recently (I've spoken about both of these products before, HERE).
Radox Shower Smoothies. I originally bought this because it was on special offer. It smells lovely and works fine as a shower gel, I'm just not really sure the added beads in it do all that much. I wouldn't buy this again purely because I'd rather try a new, different product instead.
Kerastase Cristaliste Shampoo and Conditioner. This is a relatively new range for Kerastase, aimed at "young women with long, fine hair". Their words, not mine. I said I'd give this a go as my thin, fine hair drives me a bit mad. These smell nice and the shampoo makes a nice lather. I found the conditioner to be a bit light and watery for my preference and to be honest, I didn't feel like these made a huge difference to my hair. I finished both products completely because Kerastase is quite pricey but I won't repurchase these, I think there are better ranges available from Kerastase but also from a lot of cheaper brands so I'm going to give Pantene or Dove a go instead!
L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, I love. I squeezed every last little bit out of this 30ml tube! I reviewed this more thoroughly HERE, if you'd like to read more about it.
Lastly, Rimmel's Wake Me Up foundation. This is a bit of a cheat cause I've had this for ages but just hadn't finished the very end of it until I found it lurking in my bathroom recently. I decided not to finish the last few drops- to be honest even though this is the palest shade in the range, it's still quite dark for me so outside of the Summer this really isn't a good match for me. Having said that, I like the formula and wear ability so will probably buy this again next Summer.

That's it (for the time being!). Have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think?

Friday 9 November 2012

Recently Watched- Part 2!

Skyfall, the latest Bond offering, as usual stars Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench and has been heralded by many (mostly just the Guardian, actually) as a turning point in the Bond franchise, due to it's slightly less misogynistic approach to female characters. I kind of disagree with that. The women in this, apart from M are all pretty much disposable- not as strong or as skilled as Bond and if they die, it's no big deal because, good news, he's slept with them already. Fun times. Leaving that aside, this is probably my favourite of the newer Bonds- it has a bit more humour and seems to take itself a bit less seriously. Also, I like Daniel Craig in the role, I think he's what the character should be- tough and gritty but also smooth and stealthy in equal measures. Javier Bardem's character makes a great baddie, in that he's completely insane, which is always entertaining and Judi Dench is brilliant as always. Worth seeing if you're a fan of Bond.

I've gone on ad nauseam about Psycho before, but as you may or may not know, I adore Hitchcock movies and have a special love for Psycho, as I think it's pretty much perfect. This was shown recently in the Lighthouse cinema in Dublin so we went along to see what it was like on the big screen. I don't know how but this film makes me jump every time I see it so it was a special treat viewing it as people would have when it was first released. I won't go into detail again but you can read all about the movie itself and why I love it so much HERE.

Resident Evil Retribution in 3D. So I actually quite like the Resident Evil movies, although I don't remember much of what happens after the first one (this is the fifth) but they're a nice bit of mindless entertainment that you really don't have to put any thought into. Plus- ZOMBIES!! Oh God, I love an auld zombie tale. For those of you who don't know the story of Resident Evil: it's based on the popular computer game of the same name and revolves around Alice (Milla Jovovich=ridiculously beautiful and cool), an ass-kicking super-babe who wakes up in a deserted mansion with no memory of who she is, only to discover a secret corporation (Umbrella Corp=Evil) under said mansion, where there has been a virus outbreak and all the workers there (and inexplicably some large, terrifying dogs) are now zombies. Well, it's a story as old as the hills. Ahem. Anyway, she gets her memory back and kills most of the zombies but they mutate and escape and whatnot, hence the next four movies in the series. In Retribution, there's really just more of the same but with lots of pointless plot twists and annoying characters. Hubster and I weren't overly impressed with this one so if you're going to watch any of them, just go back to the original. Oh and there's one of them that's based in the desert that isn't bad either (now there's a glowing recommendation!). As an aside, one of my favourite things about Resident Evil is the character of Alice- she's smart, tough and an amazing fighter, something rarely seen in these types of films- usually the women folk have to be protected from the monsters- not here though! Huzzah!

Thursday 8 November 2012

She Who Dies With The Most Shoes Wins..

What a motto to live by! Certainly one that I've been aiming for anyway if my bulging closet is anything to go by. I received this beautiful vintage Lulu Guinness bag as a completely unexpected gift recently and I was just over the moon to get it. I love Lulu Guinness's quirky retro designs and I genuinely never thought I would ever be able to afford to possess one of her famous bags so I am very grateful for this gift and have been proudly wearing it everywhere on my shoulder (whilst pretending to be a lady again). Anyway, enough of that- Photos!

What I always love about her work is the little details- look at the zip in the shape of a mirror! Dinky!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Recently Watched- Part 1!

Ok so I'm a little late in writing these up because I got a smidge distracted by Halloween and Horror movies but here are my most recent cinematic viewings (that makes Cineworld sound a lot grander than it actually is):

Looper is a brilliant film. If it's still out, I urge you to go see it, if not then you need to find some other (completely legal *cough*) way to watch it. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I wrote an entire post about before, HERE), Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, this is a dystopian sci-fi thriller (it's been heavily compared to the likes of Blade Runner) in which JGL plays a hitman who specialises in killing people his bosses send to him from the future through time travel..yes, I know how that sounds. He gets paid ridiculously well for this nasty job and spends his money on drugs and prostitutes- generally he's just wasting his life. One day he's workin' away, waiting for his latest victim to be sent to him when he realises the man that's sent to him is actually himself, but 30 years older (played by an excellent Bruce Willis) and from there it all goes a bit mental but in a good way. Emily Blunt and a creepy ass Omen-style child come into it along the way to add to the plot twists. My only gripe with this is the weird make up they put on JGL to make him look like a young Willis, which I just found really distracting. Also, be warned, this is quite violent, those of a sensitive disposition may find it hard to watch. I however, loved it. I don't know what that says about me..

Dredd 3D is a remake of 90's hit Judge Dredd. The story here is basically another dystopian future where America is in ruins- what's left are massive high rise buildings containing all sorts of nasty characters, policed by the "Judges", Dredd being one of them. He's charged with looking after a rookie judge for his shift- she's smart and capable and has psychic powers but he questions whether she's cut out for the job or not. Unfortunately for them they get on the wrong side of one of the most powerful gang/drug lords- Ma Ma (played by Lena Headey from Game of Thrones- she's equally great in this, tough and a bit mad but more powerful than all the male characters- huzzah!), who sends out all her worker bees to try and kill the two of them. Lots of great fight scenes ensue. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by this, it's not going to win any Oscars but it was entertaining and seemed to have a fairly solid storyline. Plus, I'm always partial to a film with a strong female lead. I was indifferent to the 3d element, so watching it at home won't make a huge difference in my opinion.

The Imposter. I feel bad for even mentioning this really because it had a very short run in the cinema and was only screened in a few places but it's well worth watching if you can get your hands on it. It's actually a documentary based on real life events, made by the same guy who did Man On A Wire. Basically this 20-something year old Frenchman, living rough in Spain managed to steal the identity of a 16 year old Texan boy who went missing without a trace from the US. All the people talking in the documentary are the actual people involved with the case- the missing boys family, the con-artist, the police, private investigators, social workers etc.  It's just an absolutely fascinating story of how he did it and more importantly, how the missing boys family were fooled in the first place- which gets VERY interesting as the film progresses. Definitely check this out if you can!

Part 2 coming soon!

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure (with bonus glitter)

So obviously I have a slight (ahem) nail polish addiction, that said I had somehow managed to never try Sally Hansen's complete Salon Manicure polishes before.
Fear not though, I managed to get my hands on the two shades below, and I am in love with them!
To be honest I'm not sure I'll even bother with Chanel or any other expensive brand from now on (clearly that's not going to happen but lets humour me) because these are such good quality and so much more reasonably priced- they apply like a dream, two coats and they're opaque and wearability is so impressive. Plus, look at the colours! Pretty.

                                 This is Cherry, Cherry, Bang, Bang!:

This is Commander in Chic:

I then had a bit of a glitter craving and I kept mentally putting Commander in Chic together with gold for some reason (I later figured out I had been inspired by this wedding mani on Lyndar the Merciless and somehow retained the information subconsciously..I'm weird like that) so I popped a gold glitter gradient on, first using Topshop's Heart of Gold, followed by a Barry M gold glitter.

I really like the contrast of the grey and the gold together- it's almost like it's bridging the gap between Autumn and Christmas. On that note, now that it's November and I can officially celebrate Christmas, so brace yourselves for lots more glittery nails between now and then! I also bought Christmas cookie cutters last week, so am very excited to start baking and get into the Christmassy spirit! Huzzah!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Battle of the eyeliner pens! Clarins, Mac, No.7, Bourjois and Max Factor.

Following on from my battle to the death for King of the hand creams (a win by L'Occitane), I decided to look a little more closely at the black eyeliner pens I've been using and try and come up with a victor. In the past I've used gels, liquids and kohls but have finally settled on the pen format due to the ease of use more than anything. So below, top to bottom we have Clarins 3 Dot Liner, Mac Penultimate eyeliner (ha, I see what they did there!), No.7 Stay Precise Felt Tip Liner, Bourjois Liner Feutre and Max Factor Masterpiece Glide and Define.

Of all of them, Clarins has the most unusual nib, given that it's divided into 3 parts- hence the '3 Dot Liner". The idea with this is that you can either fill in your lash line with a series of dots (if you're a fan of a more natural look) to make your lashes look fuller but without going down a full on liner route or you can also, eh, go down the full on liner route. The beauty blogging world went a bit mad for this one and while I like it, I haven't found it to be the messiah of eyeliners..if such a thing were to exist.

Moving on to Mac, I do really like the nib on this, which is quite fine so affords a more precise line while the liquid itself is ok too, I just think there are cheaper, better options available so will keep searching..
Speaking of which, I'm currently using the No.7 one which I got for only a few euro thanks to a Boots No.7 voucher. To be honest, if I'd spent any more than that on this I'd have been sorely disappointed. The smell from this is horrible- like a really strong permanent marker (which I hadn't realised 'til I got it home as they were all sealed with no tester. Curse you Boots). Ugh. I loathe having to use this but feel I should use it up before I can buy a new one, as crazy as that sounds! This doesn't create the finest line either so in my opinion, it's really not worth it at the full price.
This one from Bourjois is probably my favourite of all, it tends to be quite long lasting (both in the pen and on the eye) and easy to use, plus it's a good strong black. Think it's around the 7 or 8 euro mark and to be honest I only bought the No.7 one over this because there was only the tester of this on the shelf at the time. Grr.
Finally (yes, we made it. You can reward yourself with tea and a biscuit now..or possibly a G and T), Max Factor. This was useless. A really thick nib means it's next to impossible to draw a fine line and it dried up within a couple of weeks, which I was really annoyed over. Don't bother with this one.

Here they are swatched, again from top to bottom- Clarins, Mac, No.7, Bourjois, Max Factor.:

I should point out that the Clarins and the No.7 look the best in this photo but to be fair the other three were used up pretty much completely when I decided to take may just have to trust me.
So in conclusion, the Clarins and Mac ones are good but personally I'd go with the Bourjois for the difference in price.