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Tuesday 29 November 2016

U.S Drugstore Buys

So we were in the states over Halloween and I of course had to stop at both a Sephora and several pharmacies for make-up. Drugstores over there (CVS, Walgreens etc) are not like our own; they sell everything from painkillers to ice cream with children's toys and random touristy crap in between.
There are also, of course, several make-up brands that we don't have in Ireland and ones that we do but with products we can't get here. 
Hence, a little splurge:

U.S Drugstore haul

I had plenty of other things on my to-buy list, including the It Cosmetics CC cream, as recommended by the lovely @AinePrendo (on Snapchat) but I couldn't find a nearby Ulta so that was out. I did get plenty of other things however, including this super pretty Milani Rose Powder Blush.

Milani rose blush

I haven't tried anything from Milani but I knew I had to get a blush- what they're best known for. I had a baked blush in my basket but then I saw this beauty and sure it was too aesthetically pleasing to leave behind. I got the shade Tea Rose and it really is the perfect pink hue. It's ideal for pale Irish skin tones, although I will admit to being tempted by Coral Cove, also lovely but way too bright for me. This was around the $7 mark.

Katy Perry covergirl lipsticks

I had originally put a couple of Milani lipsticks into the basket but then I saw this Katy Perry collaboration with CoverGirl and I had to try them out.

Katy Perry covergirl lipsticks

While I'm not the biggest Katy fan in the world, I have danced my socks off to plenty of her hits and I enjoyed her movie on Netflix, especially the part where we were introduced to her cat; Kitty Purry. Granted, that is, somewhat egomaniacal but it's also quite cute so obviously I got that shade, which is a mauve and Cat Call, a brighter pop of coral
These are matte, which is good news for me as that's my current favourite type of lipstick finish.

Katy Perry covergirl lipsticks

These were, strangely also $7 each (I swear I didn't just buy things that were $7. My Sephora receipt will attest to that) but I thought these were great value for the price.

Physicians formula cc cream

This was also an Áine/snapchat recommendation and although I've yet to try it, I am excited by the concept of a product that contains moisturiser, primer, foundation, SPF, colour correction and pore blurring. I'll be honest, I always thought that last one was pure nonsense but apparently, my pores don't agree with me. I know we have Physicians Formula in Ireland now but to be honest, I can never find a stand and if I do it's been ravaged by youths. 

maybelline master primer

This was an @SkinnyDoll (again, snapchat!) recommendation and I'm loving it! There were actually three variations in the Maybelline Master Primer range- one for oily skin and a colour corrector I think but I have dry skin and tend to always go for the illuminating primers. This fella also has that blurring property and an SPF 30. This works. My foundation has a healthy glow-from-within look to it with this underneath and it provides a nice base. I'd liken this to Benefit's That Gal except that this is way cheaper, obvs. This was $9.

kylie sinful colours

These Kylie for Sinful Colours polishes were only $1.49 each, so I couldn't leave them behind. The cobalt blue shade, Kosmos (bloody K's everywhere) and the pale blue, Magik Touch are both colours I love and Sinful Colours are generally great quality so I could get over the Kardashian-isation for that alone.

U.S. Drugstore haul

This lot are far less exciting but due to our bags not arriving from JFK to New Orleans with us, we had to pick up a few essentials. I can't shower and not apply moisturiser afterwards so this massive yoke of Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe Soothe lotion was a must and worked well in the stifling heat. I couldn't have imagined lashing on a body butter in that humidity so this was ideal. Back in an Irish Winter however, and this loses some of its attraction so I'll be bringing it out again next Summer instead. 

Speaking of heat, SPF was a must and this one from Banana Boat was super handy; it sprays on clear and absorbs practically instantly plus it's factor 50. Perfect!

The Burt's Bees Ultimate Care Body Lotion for Very Dry Skin was purchased towards the end of the holiday. I love this brand and couldn't resist browsing the shelves for them at a slightly reduced price! I'm hoping this particular product is available here cause I am nearly finished and I love it! Containing Baobab Oil, Pumpkin Seed Oil and Green Tea extract, this both smells incredible and leaves my super parched skin softer than anything I've used before. Big thumbs up!

As I didn't have any hair products for a couple of days, I had to get the smart girls best friend; dry shampoo. I didn't know much about a lot of the brands they had on this shelf so I went for Pantene; ye olde reliable. Anyway, this works grand. It smells pleasant enough and does the job. Having said that, my scalp felt slightly itchy (not sure if that was down to the glaring sun also) and I think we have better options on this side of the water.

Lastly then is a packet of Burt's Bees Cucumber Face Wipes
I know, I know. Face wipes; the devils own beauty spawn but needs must and these worked a treat for the couple of days. After that I ended up using them up for perfecting our Day of the Dead face paint for Halloween. These were surprisingly non-abrasive on my skin.

And that is the lot!
I will go into further detail about my Sephora purchases at a later date but for now, have you tried any of these?
Anything there that you'd like to see a more in-depth review on?
To the comments!

Saturday 19 November 2016

Stephen King Bill Hodges Trilogy | Review

Do I need to do the whole "I'm a big Stephen King fan" thing again here? Probably not but sure look, I love his books. He's a mighty fine horror writer but not many people know how well he also writes thrillers, crime novels and just plain old drama.

I've been meaning to read his recent trilogy that begins just after Detective Bill Hodges has retired from the police force. This takes place in Mr Mercedes after the frankly shocking introduction where a car-wielding maniac kills his first victims. I was honestly completely hooked on the first book after only a few pages in. Prepare to give up your valuable conversing time with others, you will be reading this book instead (sorry to Himself). 

Bill has had to retire with the knowledge that the "Mercedes Killer", as he's been branded, is still on the loose with absolutely no leads. Bill is struggling with his retirement- at home on his own, watching daytime TV and contemplating taking his own life with his old service revolver, he feels completely at a loss now that he's a "det ret"(retired detective). That is until he receives a communication from the killer himself, luring him into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. There are some really brilliant characters in this; warm, funny, smart, unusual, evil, disturbed and dangerous. The chapters are alternately written from the viewpoint of Bill and the killer (Brady Hartsfield), so I felt like we got a really well rounded feel for the story. I thought Brady was a brilliant bad guy- he's a high functioning sociopath and also a horrific person so it really adds to the tension and I loved the friendship between Bill and his friends and helpers, Jerome and Holly who become his partners in attempting to stop Mr Mercedes, before it's too late.

Finders Keepers picks up some months after the ending of the fist novel. We now find Bill working away as a private detective of sorts, with Holly acting as his side-kick and in-house computer genius. Again, in this book the chapters are narrated in turn between the baddie (now an ex-con trying to track down the manuscript of a famous author he murdered years before in order to get his last known, unpublished work for himself) and the victim (a teenage boy, who unwittingly finds the manuscript in the house his family have moved to) and then, later on, Bill, once he and Holly are on the case. I struggled a bit with this one if I'm honest. Firstly, there are several instances where the killer recalls times he was raped in prison that I could really have done without listening to (I got this one on audio). We get it Steve, he was brutalised and now has nothing left other then the determination to get back to the manuscript. I also missed that relationship between Bill, Holly and Jerome. Jerome has moved away at this stage and although he pops back a few times, it's not really the same. I couldn't really warm to any of the characters in this bar Bill and Holly and they weren't really in it enough for my liking.

Lastly then, is End of Watch and I was so excited for this one because guess who's back you guys? Brady Hartsfield! He's now in a practically catatonic state following the ending of the first book and although he's deemed to be incapable of virtually the slightest activity, Bill is keeping a close eye on him. Especially as victims of the car attack in Mr Mercedes start taking their own lives in very similar circumstances. This book takes a turn for the supernatural, which although not unusual for King, is unexpected in this particular series. Having said that, it did work in the context of this book but I guess the series was good enough on it's own to not need that added element. That aside, I definitely enjoyed this one more than Finders Keepers and there is a definite ending to this so it won't leave you frustrated but I feel like King takes away with one hand and gives with the other sometimes. There's both a happy and a sad ending to this one.

Overall, I enjoyed the series and I think it shows more than ever that King can write thrillers and crime novels equally as well as he does horror so it's worth picking these up. You could also happily just read the first in the series though and not need to carry on with the other two- Mr Mercedes is pretty perfect on its own!

Have you read any of the Bill Hodges trilogy?
What are you reading right now?
To the comments!

Thursday 3 November 2016

Top Picks: The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Here's a beauty backstory for you to start your day off right! 
My eldest sister worked in The Body Shop in London during the 80's and with her staff discount, she often bought us the little animal soaps, shower gel for our bubble baths and of course, strawberry lip balms. And we loved them. I grew up with a fondness for the store and have always considered their body butters to be in my 'holy grail' list of beauty products. In the last few years I feel like The Body Shop has grown up with me though and it's now a highly coveted beauty/skincare destination. 

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Every Christmas I eagerly await their new releases because they always bring it. 
This year is no different and so I popped along to their Christmas gifts launch a couple of weeks ago. They've loads of great ideas for men, women and children so everyone is covered but for reasons including time and space, I won't be going through them all!
Instead, these are my top picks:

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

First up; anything from the Oils of Life range. These are skin-replenshing oils and this particular set (Ultimate Skincare Collection) comes with an Intensely Revitalising Cream, essence lotion, facial oil and sleeping cream (I'm mad into overnight masks these days) and a twin ball massager to get the most out of the facial oil. This is €140 but is particularly good value for all full size products in a great presentation box. 

I'm guilty of buying candles as gifts a lot but they are an ideal present- sure who doesn't like a candle?! These are paraffin-free with an unbleached cotton wick and a blend of essential oils. 
Japanese Camelia or Meditteranean Sea Salt get my vote.

These face masks have been big best sellers for The Body Shop over the last year and you can get two of the most popular ones (Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask and British Rose Fresh Plumping mask) in a beautiful presentation box for only €42.50. Given that these are €25 each on their own, that's a good saving. The idea with that box set is you use the two together- the charcoal on your t-zone and the rose on your cheeks, tapping nicely into the multi-masking trend that's so big at the minute. 

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Every year The Body Shop has three fragrance ranges in everything from body scrubs, lotion, body butter, lip balm, hand cream etc. This year we have Frosted berries, Vanilla Chai and Spiced Apple. While all three are lovely, I'd recommend Vanilla Chai; it's surprisingly festive but also mild enough that you won't smell like a walking Christmas tree and you could definitely wear this one well into the new year and beyond. 

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Alternatively, you could also just get this set of all three of the body butter, for the perpetually indecisive person! 

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Make-up wise there's a whole limited edition collection of vegan/vegetarian friendly cosmetics out for Christmas. I'm gonna need most of this to be honest. On the left are matte liquid lipsticks, again, these have been huge this year and look set to continue as the preferred lipstick finish. These are €13.50 while the matte tube lipsticks on the right are €15.95. The lipsticks are Vegetarian friendly, rather than vegan (the only product in this particular range that isn't vegan also) and are packed with coconut oil so they won't be drying the way matte lipsticks often are. Bonus!

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!
The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Also in the limited edition range are eyeshadow palettes, you can choose from three different quads at €13.50 each. There's a set of cruelty free brushes at €50 and this larger palette (above).
Lastly from the make-up range are these Eye Colour Sticks, €13.50 each. I had a bit of a play with these on the night and honestly, these do not budge once they're on the skin. I washed my hands with soap and water several times and those swatches were still there the next day. You'll need an oil based make-up remover for these, which is great for those of us who put their make-up on at the crack of dawn before work and pray it'll stay put till the end of the day! I have the palest gold but will be going back for the bronze shade for sure- that's an all round winner for every eye colour and looks like you've gone to a lot more effort than you actually have. 

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

The piece de resistance however, is as always the advent calendar. This year there's a few different ones depending on your budget, as well as a gift box of the Body Shop's bestsellers from over the last 40 years. That's The Iconic Collection- the full size of €140 for 11 full size products, while The Iconic Collection Mini is €65 for 7 products, all full sizes bar one. I think either of those would be a great introduction to the brand. 

The Body Shop Christmas Gifts 2016!

Back to the deluxe advent calendar though! This has 24 days of treats to open, and at €135 you're doing really well price wise considering how much you're getting. These tend to sell out pretty fast so if you're hoping to get one this year, start dropping hints now!
Alternatively, you could also just treat yo'self!

And that's my lot! As I said there's loads more gifts in store so it's worth popping in yourself to check them out.
Anything here catching your eye? 
Is poor auld Santa gonna have the back broken from carrying all of your Body Shop gift sets?!
To the comments!

*This is not a paid or sponsored post and all opinions are my own, as always!