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Sunday 2 December 2018

Bedroom Makeover Plus Our New Leesa Mattress!

(I was not compensated for this post but our mattress was provided for free, for review, in collaboration with Leesa. More in disclaimer at end of post)

We're renters. We have been for some time, and the way Dublin house prices are going, we will be for some time more. We're also savers, but until we can get a deposit together to make our own mark on a house, we can do gentle updates on the 100 year old house we're currently renting!
If my landlady happens to be reading, those updates do not include drilling holes in the wall, promise.

Those gentle updates started this month; we cleaned out our long suffering spare room and gave away about 13 bags and boxes of clothes, books, bags, shoes and household bits and bobs to charity or to the recycling centre.
We got a new TV for the bedroom to make cosy nights in that extra bit cosy.
We finally framed prints that we've bought over the years that have just been gathering dust (in the aforementioned spare room) and have hung some of them. Some are still languishing, waiting for me to buy more Command strips (no holes drilled here, remember!) and I found a glass and metal, grey touch lamp in Next that adds to the general snug feel of things.

Most importantly though, we got a new mattress. I've always included mattresses in that list of things you should spend money on; winter boots, a good coat, skincare, an umbrella, and mattresses. If you're putting it on your face, you're hoping it'll get you through bad weather, or you're trusting it with the care of your back, spend a bit more and make it an investment.
Weirdly, we had been talking about getting a new mattress a few days before I got an email asking me if I'd like to try a Leesa mattress for the blog*.
I've had a dodgy back for years; over a decade of nursing and midwifery have taken its toll and about five years ago I had back surgery on one of my discs. Since then, I've thankfully been good in that department but I have to take care of it; walking and yoga help, as do supportive shoes but I had been thinking about how often you're supposed to change your mattress. The Internet tells me 7-10 years, but that depends on how well you look after it. We moved into this house five years ago and the mattress had already been in the house a good few years at that stage. So, it was time for a change!

Leesa are an American brand that have recently launched in Ireland. Apart from rave reviews of their mattresses, I also really appreciated their brand ethics. There's a 100-night risk-fee trial period, so if you don't like your Leesa after sleeping on it for 100 nights, they'll collect it and take it back no problem. Amazingly, they also donate one mattress for every ten sold to charitable causes. So far they've donated over 30,000 mattresses, which is pretty cool! If you're interested, you can read more about that HERE. They do good work.

So how do you go about getting your mattress? Firstly, we measured our base. Ours is a King size (sizes range from Single to Super King). I placed the order, which takes on average 6-9 working days to build each one from scratch and get it delivered directly to your door. It arrived in a massive box that confused me slightly as this was not what I was expecting! I got Himself to lug it upstairs and unbox it; it's tightly rolled up and vacuum packed, so you unroll it and take off all the plastic covering. As soon as you do it starts to puff itself back up, as if by magic! We left it a couple of hours to fully re-inflate and also opened all the windows as recommended in the instructions- there's a strong enough chemical smell, kind of like glue, when you first use it. That smell initially eases but was still faintly there a few weeks after so it takes time to go completely. And then there nothing left to do but go to bed!

It honestly wasn't until we slept on the new mattress that we realised just how bad the old one was; bumpy with a dip in the middle and overall, it had started to lose its structure. I don't really know how we were managing on the old one, except that the electric blanket must have masked a lot of the problems.
There's three layers with the Leesa; a base foam layer that provides dense core support, a middle memory foam layer that provides relief from pressure and a top layer of cooling Avena foam designed to provide a better airflow so you don't overheat and adds a nice added bouncy-ness! After sleeping on it for four weeks now, these are my findings:

(puts on lab coat and exchanges glasses for more scientific looking goggles)

We both have found our respective old-crock issues (mine is my back, Himself's is his knee) have overall felt better and I think this is down to the increased body support we have for 8 hours (wishful thinking) each night.
Also, and this might be just a novelty thing cause it's still new to us but every night feels like staying in a hotel. Not just any hotel, but one of those fancy ones with those massive comfy beds that you refuse to leave. The other difference I've noticed is that I'm not waking up during the night feeling really warm or sweaty (sorry for the TMI), which I hadn't connected to the new mattress until I read on the site that the top layer is designed to be cooling! It all makes sense now!

So if you're furnishing a new home or renting like myself, I'd suggest being good to yourself and getting a new, properly supportive mattress. Even better, Leesa have given me a €100 off discount to pass on, using the code NURSEFANCYPANTS. You can have a look for your own HERE.
Wishing you all a comfy nights sleep! (smug, well-rested voice)

*I'm not being paid for my review, or to talk about it on my social media sites. I was provided with the mattress, free of cost and asked to give my unbiased, honest opinion on it, with no input from the brand on the content of my post. I think it's important to highlight this as I am always honest in my reviews and this is no different! I get asked regularly to review products or to accept sponsored posts, but I rarely do, unless it suits me and the blog. I made an exception for Leesa because I love the ethos behind the brand and the reviews I read online about the mattress made it obvious that it was a really good fit for us and the lifestyle section of Nurse Fancy Pants.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Come, Look At My Trash #8!

This is my second empties post of the year, which sounds about right. I usually do one every six months after saving all my empty beauty products up. I photograph them, clean and dry them, then recycle. Then I tell you what I thought of them and whether I'd get them again. I find people usually look at the photos, then scroll through and find a product they're interested in.
It's basically a bumper review post!
Let me know if you've tried any of these and what you thought of them!

Facial Skincare:

Pixi & Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse: I love this fragrance-free, half oil, half-milk cleanser. This is super gentle on the skin and really does what it says on the tin. If you want to try double cleansing, but aren't sure where to start, try this. More info on it in THIS post.

Clarins Double Serum*: My beloved Double Serum. My skin loves this, I love this, everyone should love this. I wrote a post on it HERE. I'll be buying a new one in the sale, cause this is hella pricey.

Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm minis x 2: This is my all time favourite cleanser. I finally bought myself a full size this year (no regrets case it's nowhere near being finished) but these two were in advents calendars, I think. Full review of the cleanser, HERE, if you want to know more!

Laneige Water Bank Essence and Moisture cream: These were part of a set with a full size Laneige Water Sleep Mask, which I'm still working my way through. I got it in the states for about $22, which is bargainous! These are really nice, and perfect for warmer weather. Coming into the Winter, I feel they'd be less useful but if you like your skincare to feel light, like water on your skin, this is a good option.

Essano Rosehip Serum: This is a bargain I found in TK Maxx. Essano are a New Zealand based cruelty-free, vegan-friendly company that utilise a lot of natural ingredients for their skincare. I'm a big fan of rosehip, so I had to give this a go and I was very impressed! It feels so comforting on the skin and provides a great base for moisturiser and primer. I absolutely loved it and I've been scanning TK Maxx's shelves for it ever since!

Clinique Moisture Surge: I got a double pack of this in the airport earlier on in the year for next to nowt (for Clinique anyway) and had heard such good things that I had to try it. Clinique skincare often involves layering moisturisers with other moisturisers depending on your skin type which might explain why I found this a bit too light for me. It was perfect during our very warm Summer as it actually felt quite cooling on, so I'll be saving the next pot for the good weather again next year!

Belif The True Cream Moisture Bomb: Another Sephora purchase, I had tried a sample of this and really liked it. It's a slightly heavier cream than anything I've mentioned so far ere, while still being light enough to be easily absorbed. They make a big fuss about how moisturising this one is and it is very nice, just probably not the bets I've ever tried.

Korres Wild Rose Advanced Repair Sleeping Facial: This was another advent calendar find and I really like this. I love a good sleeping mask anyway and I'm a big fan of Greek company Korres. I probably wouldn't get a full size of this though, there was nothing wrong with it per se, I've just used other sleeping masks I've preferred.

Korres Wild Rose Facial Oil: This, I loved. I bought it on sale in Crete and I loved every drop of it. That was until it promptly went out of date and had t be thrown our. Wah. Full review of it HERE.

Kinvara Rosehip Face Serum: I wrote about this one HERE. I liked it, just not as much as the Essano serum!

Trilogy Organic Rosehip Oil: Unlike the other two Rosehip's here, this is an oil so it does different things for the skin. I find I need a good oil in the evening over my moisturiser, otherwise my skin feels tight. This is a great option and probably my second bottle of this. I'd get it again.

Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Masks: I loved these. Farmacy are hard enough to get here (these are from Sephora). If you're stateside, have a look at the brand cause they're really good. I'd definitely buy these again!


Kiehl's Creme de Corps: This is an old one that I recently found in amongst my beauty stash and made a concerted effort to use up. It's a fairly decent body moisturiser; if you have dry skin, this is excellent. It's also unscented, so if you have sensitive skin, it's a good choice. It just didn't set my world on fire!

Chloe Love Story perfume: Looking at this now, I think I may have already done this in my last empties post and just forgot to bring it to the glass recycling bin...either way, it's gone now and I'm sad cause this is a really beautiful perfume. It's my second of this particular one and I think it's probably my favourite of the whole range. I would definitely get this again!

The Body Shop Frosted Plum Body Butter*: This is a Christmas edition of the brand's famous body butters and this is a beaut. Some of their festive ones are only really useable at that time of year but I found this was lovely all throughout the year! I'd absolutely get it again.

Bellamianta Self Tanning Tinted Lotion*: Another winner here, this is a really good, streak-free, bronze-finish tan. It's easy to apply and looks great on. I'd highly recommend an would definitely get again.

Shower & Hair:

Kevin Murphy Angel Wash Shampoo: I've used this and the accompanying conditioner a few times, it's great when you're freshly dyed your hair. They're also paraben and sulphate free so if you have a sensitive scalp, these are a good shout.

The Body Shop British Rose, Mango Shower Gels: I liked both of these, the mango has a bit left cause I was using to for travels and forgot about it!

L'Oreal Professional Volumetry Shampoo & Conditioner: I've also gotten this range a few times. I really like these too, my hair is quite fine so these add volume without weighing it down. I'm already using new ones!

Make Up:

Collection Concealer: You know the one. Every so often I pick one up, there cheap, and do the job well. I'll always repurchase this!

Maybelline UnderEye Eraser concealer: Also this is about my tenth of these. This is a great under eye concealer. The first time it's ever broken down half way through it though- no more will come out, with or without the sponge! 

Estée Lauder The Illuminator Primer & Double Wear Light: The primer was fine, I got it cause it was on offer but I probably wolf;t get it again, I think you can get better for less. Double Wear Light is one of my favourite foundations- it's a classic for a reason.

Isadora Cover Up Foundation*: I used every last bit of this- I scraped out every drop! I was surprised by how much I love this, as it's definitely a more matte finish, which I don't always gravitate towards. This just always looks so good on me! I'll definitely be buying it again. 

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Lip Balm: This is a lovely, gel-like balm that has that iconic 8 hour area scent. I really liked this- I used it very night and it was a nice treat for my lips!

Benefit That Gal Primer: Again, this was in a set but I've used a full size of it before and really, really liked it and I'd happily buy it again. It's a lovely illuminating primer that provides the perfect glowy base for your make-up.

Buxom Plumping gloss: These free samples really do work- this was a gift with my Sephora card and I ended up buying a full size when I got home! Love it! It reminds me of the old school Pout lip glosses. It plumps the lips and smells like mint/vanilla with a gorgeous pink sheen. Beaut. 


Flormar Spider Lash Volume: I got caught rotten on my way to Limerick and realised I had forgotten my make-up bag so I stopped and bought this (you can see what else I got HERE).  I liked the bristles, which weren't spiky plastic but I didn't like the finish it gave, which as expected is spidery. 

Too Faced Better Than Sex: I really liked this- loved the brush and there's a great finish. I would buy again but I'd question that name!

Bourjois Push Up Volume Glamour: This was grand, if you're stuck it's good pharmacy brand mascara.  

YSL Shocking: My favourite of ALL the mascaras. I've mentioned this many, many times. It provides so much volume and length- pure black lashes.  I have of course, got a new one on the go already!

YSL Babydoll: In the same family as Shocking, I also really like Babydoll, although probably not quote as much as Shocking. There's slightly less drama with this one, if you prefer that. 

Lancome Hypnose: This is a good'un too. It's has a really bendable applicator so even though it's the dreaded plastic applicator instead of the brushes, I like the finish. It's easy to apply and get into all the small lashes. 

D&G Passioneyes*: I liked this one too, the brush is curved to give you a curled finish. This does have my hated little jabby plastic nibs as part of the applicator though, which I found a little uncomfortable. 

Eyeliners etc:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz: I've gone through many of these, it's the perfect shade for my brows (I get Blonde) and the applicator means you can apply it really precisely so it looks like natural hairs. A winner! I already have a new one! 

Flormar Kohl liner in Brown: I go through a lot of brown liners. This is fine but the fact that it had to be sharpened pretty much every time I used it means I'll never buy it again!

The Body Shop Skinny Thin Felt Eyeliner: This has a very skinny nib and bends really easily when you're trying to use it. Which can be annoying when you're trying to get a straight line! it's a no from me. And Simon Cowell, apparently. 

Seventeen Make Your Mark Precison Eyeliner: The Nib on this is quite thick but sturdy, with a narrow tip, so actually it made it easy to apply a thin, clear line. 

NYX Retractable Eye liner In Brown: My preferred type of liner is a retractable one cause I don't think you lose as much product. I liked it but I used it up really fast, like really fast! Which makes me think there wasn't much of it in there in the first place.   

Sephora Glide Liner in Brown Chestnut: I loved this one! Again I didn't lose any product and it provided a good kohl line that could be smudged but didn't budge then. I've already bought another two!

And that's the lot! Have you tried any of these?

*indicates product was provided for review. This post is not sponsored and as always, all opinions are my own. 

Sunday 16 September 2018

Recently Read: June

Lookit, I know. I'm miles behind on this but that cursed blogging break I took has completely messed up my book posts. Hopefully I'll have gotten around to reviewing everything I read during the Summer by Christmas. Who knows though, maybe not! 
Anyway, I read so many great books over the last few months that all deserve a proper review, so here we are.
Let me know what you're reading or if you've read any of this lot!

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

Celebrated by the likes of Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and the late great Maya Angelou, Brené Brown is the current queen of self-help. An international bestseller, she has the academic chops to back up her knowledge on human behaviour - she's a research professor and has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. 
Braving the Wilderness is peppered throughout with her own lived experiences but also references her research to show us that we are, as a species, experiencing a spiritual disconnection, living as we do in an age of increased polarisation. In Braving the Wilderness, she introduces four key practices to reconnect ourselves and others.
And I get all that, but aside from a few interesting paragraphs, this failed to do a huge amount for me. I thought it was helpful to consider my social media usage more closely than I have been and I definitely did that after reading this but really I came away from it questioning what the point of it actually was.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Set in Dublin, Frances is a twenty-one year old college student, aspiring writer and occasional spoken-word-poet. She performs her poetry for audiences with her best friend Bobbi, who is also her her former lover. It's at one of their shows that journalist Melissa spots them, takes an interest, and asks to interview them. 
From there, Frances and Bobbi get drawn into Melissa's world; her sophisticated home, handsome husband, and pretence at insouciance are attractive to both young women in different ways and Frances, lacking stability in her life, increasingly loses control over her feelings and actions. 
I loved this book. At times, it reminded me of the characters TV show in Girls; twenty-somethings who have firmly jumped aboard the self-introspection train, to everyone else's detriment. There's something much more realistic about it in Conversations With Friends though. I don't think I've read such an insightful look at tangled relationships like this before and there'll definitely be lots of women reading it who can relate, at least in part to some of Frances's thoughts and/or actions. 
Rooney is an excellent writer, I'm really looking forward to reading her next novel. 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Four siblings sneak out of their New York building in 1969 to discover their fortunes from a travelling psychic. Each hears the disconcerting news of the exact date they will die and after that, their lives are changed forever. 
From that fateful day, we're swept along on an epic journey, through the AIDS epidemic in 80's San Francisco, flashy Las Vegas magic shows in the 90's, the life of an army doctor post 9/11, right up to modern-day research labs where the boundaries are tested between science and immortality. 
Each era is told from the perspective of a different sibling and it's hard not to become attached. I loved this book. I was going to say I cried, I laughed etc. but mostly I cried. 
It's a great read, you'll be absolutely hooked from start to finish.

The Surface Breaks by Louise o' Neill

This is Louise O' Neill's second novel of the year but this one differs from her previous works by being a modern-day adaptation of The Little Mermaid. That's the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale version by the by, not the Disney one. As this is YA, it's aimed at a slightly (ahem) younger market than I would be in so I did find the writing to be more simplistic than I've come to expect from O' Neill, even with regard to her other YA novels. 
Off the Irish coast, lives Gaia, a young mermaid who dreams of escaping her controlling father, who happens to be the ruler of their under-the-sea (bet you're singing it now) community. He's overtly misogynistic and treats his daughters like his own personal belongings; the better looking they are, the more they get shown off. He also decides all of their romantic futures, really, their futures in general. No one is allowed speak of their mother, who years earlier chose to leave the ocean to be with a two-legged man on the land. 
Gaia desires more than anything to follow in her mother's (literal) footsteps but is she prepared for the sacrifices she will have to make? 
The answer is of course, no. This isn't a happy story, if anything it's quite dark. If I was a young teenager, I think I would have enjoyed this more but I felt the feminist theme of the book was awkwardly wedged into the storyline in places and didn't sit well with my reading of it. Even though I appreciate the overall message of the book, it just wasn't for me, but again, for a younger audience, I'm sure the opposite would be true. 

Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O' Toole

Described as a mix between Caitlin Moran, Lena Dunham and Germaine Greer (not sure how happy she'd be about that last one), Emer O' Toole is an Irish journalist and feminist. 
Girls Will be Girls is a journey through her own life, reassessing why she does and says certain things. Where it looks like gender conditioning might be to blame, she explores it further in an attempt to break us out of our gender stereotypes. 
This involves but is not limited to; cross-dressing, full-body waxing, choosing not to wax, going on national television and waving hairy armpits about the place to the disgust of Eamon Holmes, head-shaving, and going full-on glamour. She's learnt lots of lessons in doing all of this, so you don't have to, and in the process she hopes she can open up all of our minds a little bit more. 
This is a fun read, her conversational style of writing means it flows along nicely and it's always interesting reading about people's personal experiences rather than just theories. I'm interested in anything feminism-related anyway, so if that's your bag you may well appreciate this too.

The Outsider by Stephen King

I've enjoyed most of King's recent books and this was no exception. 
The Outsider is about a horrific, unspeakable crime that occurs in a small American town. A young boy is found dead, having been brutally assaulted first. Seen in the area at the time is local English teacher and beloved little league coach, Terry Maitland. Without really thinking first, the detective on the case orders an immediate and very public arrest of Maitland, confirming his guilt in front of the entire town, his wife, and two young daughters. He protests his innocence but there's DNA evidence at the scene of the crime, plus the eye-witnesses. 
There's a catch though; Maitland has an ironclad alibi and the further the detectives delve into the case, the more unlikely and bizarre the whole thing seems. At its heart this is a detective story that dips in and out of the supernatural but it also touches on the phenomenon of accusing someone of something that will destroy their life if you're wrong- something we see more and more of on social media these days. This was a good read; creepy with a slowly building sense of tension and fear from the very start, as only King can, but it's also a cracking crime/thriller, if that's your thing!

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

This had been on my radar for a while and looked like it was set to be a big seller. Young British woman, Alice Shipley has moved to Tangiers with her wayward husband but has struggled to settle in; being an introvert, she hasn't ventured out into bustling Morocco that much. That is until her old friend Lucy Mason arrives. Alice and Lucy haven't spoken after an incident between them a year ago but outgoing Lucy might be just what Alice needs to get accustomed to her new home and soon they fall back into their old rhythms. That is, until Alice's husband goes missing and she begins to fear Lucy's controlling nature again. Set in the 1950's, this was marketed as a gripping psychological literary thriller in the style of The Talented Mr Ripley. Unfortunately it missed the mark for me. I spent a lot of it willing Alice's character to sort herself out, I struggled with the notion that anyone was as slow on the uptake as she was and found her extremely frustrating. Equally, Lucy's character is awful too, so I couldn't really root for any of them and I also didn't care that much about the storyline so it was a struggle. I wouldn't bother with this one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2 by John Tiffany

Picking up where the last book left off, with Harry and Ginny's son going to Hogwart's for the first time, this is a play (written as a play; 'exit stage left' etc.) that deals with themes of disappointment, family struggles, and good versus evil (as per usual for Harry, am I right?). 
I really enjoyed this, and I know there have been negative opinions about it and about the stage adaptation, but for me, it felt like catching up with old friends. 
We get to see what Ron and Hermione, Neville, Hagrid and all the other favourites have been up to all this time while Harry struggles with the fact that his son is not quite what he or anyone else expected him to be. 
There's also some nostalgic time travel back into the original books! If you're a fan, you'll love this, but if you have the option of seeing it on stage instead, I'd go for that over reading it!


Monday 3 September 2018

Clarins Joli Rouge Velvet Lipsticks

These have been my personal favourite beauty product over the last month. They've been out since May but as is typical with me, I'm slow to getting around to becoming fanatical about a product and then feeling the need to write about it. These are pure beauts to apply; smooth, richly pigmented, matte, but not drying. 

Clarins Joli Rouge Velvet Lipsticks

In short, these are the perfect Autumnal lipstick. I know what you're about to say, "but Chloe, isn't this just you being obsessed with Autumn?" and yes, you have a point, but actually these have everything you need for this time of year; firstly colour- russets, warm nudes, corals (there's ten shades in the range), presented in a perfect soft matte. 

A matte that's slightly blurred around the edges, like you've had your lips around one too many cups of pumpkin spiced latte (that sentence could have gone in a very different direction. I know you were thinking it too. Durtbirds.) 

To add to it's perfectness, Clarins have mixed in organic samphire to hydrate and apricot oil so your lips are softer, rather than bedraggled, as mattes usually leave them in colder weather. 

Wearing Soft Berry in both of theses selfies. Going full Liz McDonald on the left- ready for a night out/serving Hot Pots. Glasses, hair tied back and a jumper on the right. It's a very versatile lipstick, is what I'm saying. 

Clarins Joli Rouge Velvet Lipsticks

You may want to buy more than one lipstick but you'll technically only need one. And that lipstick is, Soft Berry (below photo on the right). I've been wearing this with a luminous It Cosmetics CC Cream base, warm copper eyeshadow and a dusky rose blush from Bourjois
It's Autumn in a face, baby! 

Clarins Joli Rouge Velvet Lipsticks

Having said that, I'll also happily be wearing the other shades I have; Grenadine (a slightly darker pink but still really wearable for daytime as it has a bit of brown in there), Pink Cranberry (a brighter pink, slightly more in your face. I often feel pinks like this don't suit me that well but I can for sure see its appeal), and Joli Rouge itself (a very flattering shade of red that you'll want to wear all the way through Christmas...I'm sorry but it's September, I'm surely allowed say it now?!).

Clarins Joli Rouge Velvet Lipsticks

You can find these anywhere there's a Clarins counter, but here's a link to them on Brown Thomas, nonetheless. They're €24 each, but the cost per wear makes them excellent value!

Have you tried any of the Joli Rouge Velvets? If not, why not?! I jest! 
Let me know what your favourite Autumnal lipstick is!

*Products in this post were provided for review. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own, as always. 

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Recently Read: April & May

I took a blog break so I've a fair bit of catching up to do. A lot of excellent books have passed through my hands over the last few months, I'm excited for what Autumn and Winter brings, reading wise, as Summer has been so kind. 

I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
I'm a big My Favourite Murder fan and when they mentioned this True Crime book by journalist Michelle McNamara, I had to read it. The GSK (Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist), committed 12 murders, over 50 rapes and 100 burglaries in California between 1974 and 1986. Up until very recently he had never been caught, in spite of a wealth of evidence, including DNA. 
Bizarrely, I started reading this the week before the GSK was caught, which made it even creepier finishing it. McNamara sadly passed away before this happened but it's partly due to her that he was found- she coined the moniker "Golden State Killer" and really brought his crimes and his victims back into the public conscious. She actually died before she could complete the book so the last third reads a bit disjointed- it's put together by other people with her notes. I obviously don't hold that against her but it does make it a less cohesive read. 
There's also quite a lot of repetition when it comes to his M.O. I felt a bit like, we understand how he committed these crimes and reading the details of his cruelty over and over again was really unpleasant. I more felt like she did that for each victim but it still was difficult to get through. 
Having said that, if you're a true crime fan, then this is one you'll definitely want to read.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
This has been on a lot of people's "must-read`' lists this year, so I had to get it when I spotted it on Audible. I generally like these sort of books; self-introspection with a side of light heartedness. Dolly Alderton is a journalist/columnist in her late twenties and I felt like that really came across in her memoirs. You know the way the TV show Girls was heavily focused on the self obsession of twenty-something year olds? That's how this felt to me, and being in my mid-thirties, I feel like I've moved on from that and so struggled a bit with some of the chapters in Everything I Know About Love
It took me a while to get into the first half of it. I thought the parts where she touched on her issues with alcohol and disordered eating were on the verge of being insightful but that really only became prevalent later in the book. 
There was much about her jealousy of her best friend finding love and happiness and that was a difficult read, to be honest. I suppose it was brave of her to include it as it doesn't reflect well on her at all, but it wasn't enjoyable to read. 
The chapter on her going to therapy was well written and the heavy focus on female friendship was excellent. It was a stand-out for me actually, reading this book. 
Similarly, the chapter on Florence, her friend's little sister was heartbreaking and beautifully written. Like a lot of books in this genre, there was some filler thrown in, with some of her old columns shoved in there and overall, I didn't laugh as much as other people seem to have reading it. That might just be me being cantankerous though.

The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle* by Stuart Turton
This is one of my favourite books of the year so far. Described as a mix between Agatha Christie, Quantum Leap, and Inception, this is a murder mystery set in a big old country house, but with a twist. There's lots of literary tropes you'll recognise here; the aforementioned country house for one, a murder victim with many potential culprits, old school clothes and weapons (it's set in the 1920's) but the author meshes that all together with some sci-fi thrown in, making it feel new and fresh. 
Our narrator wakes up in a forest, in someone else's body, covered in blood. He makes it back to the house where he finds out that his name is Aiden Bishop, there's going to be a murder and he has 8 chances to solve it. 8 chances meaning 8 days, each day will be the same day (Groundhog Day thrown in for good measure too). 
Each day he'll wake up in a new host's body; some are helpful to his cause; young and agile, while others deter him further; old and immobile, drugged, psychopathic etc. 
Lots more obstacles are placed in his path as he slowly begins to unravel the mystery and find out why he's there in the first place. If he doesn't solve the case, he's stuck there forever, so the heat is very much on. Practically every page has some new twist so I did find it slightly confusing at times and it can be quite dark. Having said that, it's probably the most original story of this genre that I've ever read and it was a real treat for someone like me, who loves a good murder mystery. 
I'd highly recommend this one. 

Heartburn by Nora Ephron
I've read a few of the late, great Nora Ephron's books before (and of course, I've seen the films), but Heartburn kept popping up on those "books you have to read" lists and so I found it on Audible, read by Meryl Streep (who also acted in the film adaptation). 
Rachel is a cookery writer, she's seven months into her pregnancy with her husband Mark, when she finds out he's cheating on her. It's narrated by Rachel so we hear all her thoughts- whether or not to take him back, to kill him or forgive him, all mixed up with her favourite recipes. 
I enjoyed this and I really liked Rachel but I think that was definitely helped by the amazing Meryl on audio.

Watch Me* by Jody Gehrman
Watch Me is a tale of obsessive love gone very badly wrong, but with a twist. Kate Youngblood is a creative writing professor, intent on getting tenure in the college where she works.
Lately she's been feeling somewhat isolated; her best friend has had a baby, leaving their friendship on hold and her husband has left her for a woman ten years younger than her. Added to that, her second novel has failed to garner any of the praise or success of her first, and overall she feels like she's losing at life.
The one glimmer of hope is the weird intensity of her budding friendship with her student, Sam Grist, who is both an excellent writer and can apparently see right into her soul. He can see right into her soul because he's stalking her and has been in her house and through her things, but Kate of course, doesn't know that.
As Sam's obsession grows, Kate senses something is not quite right but in her vulnerable state, almost refuses to see it. Parts of this psychological thriller seemed slightly ridiculous to me but then when I finished the book I thought long and hard about the nature of loneliness and what we'll do as a species to feel connected to each other. The portrayal of Kate as an insecure, ageing woman, on the surface glad not to face catcalls from men anymore, but secretly missing the attention, did feel realistic, even if some of her actions were really difficult to countenance.

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine
I try and be measured with book reviews. I don't like to be overly negative; one woman's trash is another's treasure after all, but I struggled with this one.
The first half of this book is unbearably slow. I pushed through on holidays and got to 50%. Then I gave up, cause as I always say; life is too short for bad books.
However, I then began spotting this book everywhere; it was picked for Reese Witherspoon's book club, loads of people on Goodreads were saying "push past the first half, it's SO worth it!", and so I did. To be fair, I finished the second half in a couple of hours and it did flow much better than the first, but that ending. Oh lord no.
Daphne Parrish seemingly has it all; married to the handsome and wealthy Jackson, with two beautiful daughters, a stunning home and a group of similarly rich friends at her beck and call. And Amber wants it all. Posing as a plain Jane who wants to help with Daphne's charity work, she soon worms her way into the Parrish's life, with a view to usurping Daphne and becoming Jackson's new wife. Amber's awful internal monologue is the entire first half of the book. No one is that evil; people are shades of good and bad, never just one or the other. It's poor form to write a character who has literally no redeeming qualities, but that aside, she's also not a very interesting person to read about for 300 or so pages. Daphne is certainly a more enjoyable read, and she takes over for the rest of the book, thankfully, although her experiences contain unpleasant subject material that was difficult to absorb.
That twist though (cause you know there's always a twist). I won't give too much away but I had figured it out for the most part. As despicable a character as Amber is, I was really horrified by the ending of this book and the message it sends about violence against women. I can't say anymore than that but really that tipped me over the age to hating this one, if the ending had been better it could have redeemed itself, but as it stands, it's a firm no from me (insert Simon Cowell gif).

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Someone Who's Been There by Cheryl Strayed
I read Wild last year and really enjoyed it, so when I heard Tiny Beautiful Things being discussed on My Favourite Murder (I get my book suggestions from other places than there, promise!), I had to get it. The audio version is read by Strayed herself, and she has a really calming, gentle voice, which is so pleasant to listen to. 
Sugar was an online anonymous columnist that became incredibly popular, thousands of people turned to Sugar for her brilliant life advice. It's since been revealed that Sugar was of course, Cheryl Strayed. This is a compilation of some of those letters and replies from Sugar, many of which stopped me in my tracks. Cheryl shares a lot of her own life experiences in her replies, which at times felt a bit like she was saying "hey look, I've had it worse", but somehow she still manages to turn it around with some really sterling, life-changing advice. I also cried more than once, it's an emotional rollercoaster and definitely worth a read!

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Translated from Italian, the Neapolitan series are four books (this is book one) about the lives of two friends, Lila and Elena, from childhood onwards. Both have very different personalities and we follow them as their lives veer off into different courses in the poor neighbourhood in Naples they are growing up in. I read this while we toured around the Amalfi coast so I have a bit of a soft spot for it, but as I didn't really like any of the characters, I'm not feeling a major sense of urgency to read the next three in the series. Although I probably will at some point, even if I need to go back to Sorrento a further three times (any excuse) to do so.

And that, is that. June and July get their own months cause I was a reading machine throughout so I'll be getting on to writing up those reviews soon. 
Have you read any of these?
What are you reading right now?

*Denotes that books were provided for review, in this case by NetGalley. I was not paid for these reviews and as always, all opinions are my own.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Clarins Summer 2018

Summer is almost over (I know, I know, I'm sorry) but the sun is still inexplicably shining brightly over Ireland and you can still get your hands on the rather beautiful Clarins Summer 2018 collection. I'm here to tell you why you should. 
Every year I look forward to the Clarins Summer releases- this year is no different. They epitomise Summer for me; bronzers, bright lips and slicks of eyeliner, pops of aqua coloured mascara. It's all you need for the freshest face at the warmest time of year (apart from sunscreen, obvs. Get it on ya!).

With that palm tree adorned gold packaging, the Supra Mascara screams Miami to me. I love that shade of green and I was really excited to use this, but I find it only works for me when I apply it over black mascara, and it really needs a few coats to build up. This fella is €26. 

Stationery fiends, assemble! You're gonna want the 4 Colour All-In-One Pen, a clickable, retractable
eye and lip liner pen. 
There's one lip liner; a fuchsia. This is a lovely bright pink, ideal for this time of year. 
The other three are for the eyes; an aubergine, turquoise, and a black. 

I tend not to wear purples a huge amount on my eyes, as they don't accentuate my blues as much as I'd like, but I've been using the green and the black lots. I love that turquoise for a slick of colour, it feels really fresh in a market that's saturated with nude eyeshadows at the minute. 
Plus, how handy is it to have this in your bag- four colours in one for €36.

Next up, the Water Lip Tints. I have three of the shades; Violet Water, Rose Water and Red Water. There's one more that I don't have, Orange Water
All four are designed to be as light as water, but tint your lips with a punch of colour, hence the name. Up to now, we've had similar ideas from Clarins and lots of other brands too; lip oils or lip stains (that dried the bejaysus out of your lips). 
This is unique in that it feels like a good mix of the two. I always loved lip stains for that beautiful water colour effect it provides, but I can't stand how dry they left my skin. 
These however, are really comforting on. I wore one of them all day at a wedding with regular touch ups after food, Prosecco, smooches etc and my lips felt perfectly soft afterwards. 
These are definite winners. 

They need some attention during application; you can't just lash these on and go. I apply, then blend with a finger, making sure it's not giving me an added lip line that I don't want. You can build these up from the lightest hint to a fuller hit of colour. I usually put on one or two layers, then add a balm over it. 
I love how this looks- it's so very pretty. 
Like you've been lying in the sun eating raspberry ice pops. 
See? Perfectly Summery. 
My favourite is Violet Water, because I gravitate to those shades naturally. On me it comes out like the aforementioned raspberry, while the Rose Water looks like a neon pink, and Red water is an orange/red on me. 
I like all of these, at €21 they'll last you well and I find them to be quite versatile. 

Have you tried anything from Clarins Summer 2018?
Anything catching your eye?

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Sephora Hauling (European Edition)

Great news! Both Copenhagen and Malmö have Sephora! Stockholm does too but I didn't check that one out. I have a rule; if I find a Sephora on holidays, I must find products we don't have at home, and I must purchase those products. It's an imperative really. 
Scandinavian Sephora had lots of brands we have here, including some fancy ones we don't; mostly the Sephora own brand and lots of very cool K Beauty. 

These lipsticks are from the Sephora own brand, they're called Lipstories. The packaging on these are what sells them; each has a theme that matches the shade in the bullet. The outer tube is a firm card while the case the lipstick is in is plastic, it kind of reminds me of Paul & Joe. Anyway, they combine three finishes; matte, metallic and satin. These both have a satin, cream finish but give the full on colour of a matte. I really like these- I bought the red in Copenhagen, wore it and had to get another shade in Malmö. No. 24 Deep Water Bay is a classic blue toned red, so it's flattering on, while No. 3 Oui! is a nude/pink. My go-to nude is Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk, and this is similar but with slightly more brown in the mix, which is still really lovely on. 

I'd heard a little bit about Nudestix, an American brand of multi-use make-up crayons. These are their Nudies (I'll take this opportunity to advise you not to type either "nudestix" or "nudies" into google); an all over face crayon that you can use on your eyes, lips and cheeks. 
I got Bare Back (don't type that in either), a mauvey/pink that looks natural and really flattering on. I find it a bit too pink on my eyes on it's own but it's perfect as a blush and lip colour. There's a little stippling brush at the other end of the tube, which is really handy for travel but I always find these a bit weird in make up products as they can be hard to clean. You can also just blend the crayon out with your fingers. 

I've wanted to try Lipstick Queen's Frog Prince for a while. I enjoy a gimmick, I just didn't want to spend the money on a full size when there was a chance it could be a lip balm in fancy packaging, so I got the mini version in Sephora's aisle of doom (i.e the shelves along the queue for the tills. Designed to make you want to spend more. It's very effective.). The idea with this is that you apply the green lipstick and it transforms into a plummy pink shade on contact with your lips. I like it! It is a total gimmick, there's literally no reason why you couldn't spend way less and get a tinted pink lip balm instead, but you do you.

I've previously only tried the Sephora face masks so I decided to branch out and try a moisturiser. This is the Intensive Instant Moisture+ Cream. Packed with Hyaluronic Acid for those of us with permanently parched faces. I like this, it's not too heavy, not too light, and it sinks in nicely.

I love Gucci Bloom; it's a powdery, floral, feminine perfume that has vintage vibes but still manages to feel modern. I also love the rollerball section of Sephora- we tend not to get rollerball perfumes as freely in Ireland as they do elsewhere and I find them ridiculously handy for throwing in your bag-they don't take up much room and they're a great way to try out pricey perfumes for less. 

Alright, put aside the fact that this is called "Avocado Soup", which granted, is disgusting, and focus on the fact that this is a really effective Sleeping Mask. Sleeping Masks are my favourite Korean skincare finds. It feels like you're doing something special, but really you're putting on a slightly thicker night moisturiser. 

It smells really good and feels soothing on. I like. Skinfood have a whole range of these kind of products, but I'm all about the moisturising so I kind of ignored the rest.

The Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz is a repurchase. I've gone through a few of these (in the shade blonde), it's probably the best brow product I've ever used.

I go through brown kohl liners like it's no ones business. I use them instead of black cause it's a bit more flattering with my skin tone and eye colour and I generally smoke the line out with some shadow. I hadn't tried the Glide Liner from Sephora's own brand before, so I said I'd give it a go. I really like it; it's a twist up, so you're not losing any product with sharpening, it glides on and works equally as well with a fine line as it does smudging it. 

This was actually a purchase from a Scandinavian budget shop called Normal. It's kind of like Dealz; beauty, house stuff, sweets etc. They had these Revlon Color Care and Shiine Color Bombs for cheap and in my shade, so although we can get these at home, I had to pick one up. My hairdresser recommended this to me before for brightening up your blonde. It's kind of like a purple shampoo but isn't drying at all, so it conditions and adds shine as well as freshening up the colour. 

I hadn't tried anything from Zoeva and got suckered at the aisle of doom again with this super cute mini palette. This is the Cocoa Blend Voyager palette. All of these shades are stunning on blue eyes, but personally I'd get rid of Bitter Start (top left) and add in a dark shade. 
Anyway, as the name would suggest, this will be very handy for travel. It's also worth noting that this fella is just over a tenner, if you want to try Zoeva without buying a full size palette. 

I'm an absolute sucker for face masks, although I've since stopped buying them as much lately for environmental reasons. Much packaging for little product. Both are eye patches because I have lots of ones just for the face and my eye bags are large and unseemly. I love Tony Moly but the Panda's Dream Eye Patch were a bit weird. They felt like a strange black cloth over my eyes and didn't feel particularly comforting. I'm not sure they helped my skin much either.

Too Cool For School Coconut Eye Serum Patches are designed to hydrate around your eyes. These were definitely a lot nicer to use (they also smell delicious) and my skin felt incredible afterwards! Super soft and smooth. I'd definitely buy more of these if I found them. 

And that is that. 

Have you tried any of these?

Wednesday 27 June 2018

A Face Full of Isadora!

Having only recently visited Sweden, I have an even greater fondness for its premier make-up brand, Isadora now. I actually originally fell in love with it when I was in college and treated myself to an eyeshadow palette containing bright yellow, green, pink and blue shades.
And yes, I wore and loved all of them. Isadora has had a bit of a renaissance in the last decade and now regularly feature on the bestselling product lists for their Blush & Bronzer wheel. 
I attended an event a while ago and have been trying these products out since. Overall, they've been a massive hit for me.

As someone with perennially dry skin, I tend to avoid foundations whose containers mention 
full coverage, long-lasting, mattifying etc., so truth be told, I probably would never have tried the Cover Up Foundation & Concealer if I hadn't been given it to review. 

Lo and behold, I am obsessed. 

There's two tubes in the photo; 62 is a good match for me and I've used every last drop. By that, I mean of course that I have squeezed every bit out of it to the point where it is the extreme definition of empty. The mini version there is a handy new thing Isadora are doing where you can buy mini sizes of all their base products to try them out, bring on holidays, throw in your bag etc. Such a good idea. The reason why I like this one so much is the amazing coverage that you get without drying your skin out; it's really an excellent foundation. I won't be happy til I get a new one.

The Stretch Lash mascara has also been an absolute winner for me. 
As I've mentioned many, many times, I'm a loyal fan of YSL's Les Effet Faux Cils Shocking mascara and I have to say, this is probably the first time in a really long time that I've found a mascara that matches my esteem for Shocking. 
This fella has one of those twisty gadgets on the lid that lets you alter the width and length of the brush, for a different effect on your lashes. Truthfully, I can't say I ever actually do that. I keep it at its thickest for maximum lash coverage and it does the job perfectly. The bristles are comfortable on my eyes (I can't do hard plastic bristles) and it gives a properly dramatic effect. No messing around with this one.

The Blush & Go Draping Wheel is one of their most loved products and comes with four shades of blush (one that can be used to contour in a pinch) and a highlight. This a really handy multitasking product, another great one to bring on holidays with you. All the shades are super pigmented and beautifully flattering on!

Lastly, I had a Liquid Lip Cream to try out. This one is an orange-toned, super bright red. I love how vibrant this shade is; I wore it on a night out in San Francisco and felt like I was properly dressed up, even though I was probably only in jeans and a t-shirt. This lip cream looks like you've made more of an effort than you have and I love that. It's the lazy girls dream lip product. 

And of course, on my actual face, it looks like this:

As well as buying a new Stretch Lash Mascara and Cover Up foundation, I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the range. 
Have you tried and loved anything from Isadora?