Tuesday, 20 March 2018

March Beauty Haul

Hello again guys; it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve blogged a beauty related haul, most of my recent hauls have been book related as you’ll have probably noticed. This is a fairly small haul, but a one with some amazing products, some of which have already started making their way into my everyday make up routine! The Maybelline Rocket Volum’ Express mascara in the shade Very Black is a repurchase for me; I absolutely love this mascara for the way that it volumises, lengthens and separates my lashes for the incredible price of £7.99. I’m a sucker for very dark lashes, I love how this mascara instantly looks dramatic because of how pigmented it is, plus it doesn’t clump much, so it’s great for everyday wear. Another product in this haul that I’ve repurchased is the L’Oréal Paris True Match Concealer in the shade Ivory Rose. I’m lucky in that my skin is fairly clear, other than the odd blemish and dark circles, so generally I prefer to wear concealer rather than going all over with foundation for everyday. This concealer is a lovely consistency, not too thick or thin but nicely buildable; for £7.99 I’m satisfied as it lasts me over a month with regular use so it’s good value for money. It’s one of the only drugstore concealers that I’ve found to be pale enough for my skin with a pink tone, so I feel like this will be a favourite of mine for a long time. Similarly, the Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Lipstick in the shade Latte To Go is now my fourth lipstick from the same range; I love the lightweight formula and the reasonable price of £5.99. I’ve also been impressed with this range of lipsticks because I’ve found it stays on even after eating and drinking for a good few hours, which is always a bonus.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been searching for a drugstore eyebrow gel, as I’ve been using a more mid range one but I do tend to stick to a budget a lot of the time so I wanted one that I could repurchase cheaply if necessary. After reading some good reviews about the NYX Control Freak Eyebrow Gel I decided to take a risk for the bargain price of £6! I like my brows to look natural but neat, so having a good gel is a necessity; I’ve got really high hopes for this gel as fingers crossed it’ll last the whole day and have a nice smooth formula. I’ve definitely become a bit addicted to highlighters recently, as I ended up with the MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighter in the shade Pearlescent Sheen in my basket, too! I’ve used so many of these highlighters in various shades and they never disappoint; in fairness, for £3 you can’t really go wrong. It’s a pretty sizeable pan and very pigmented, adding a nice shimmer to create some cheekbones (something I wish I had, haha). I’ve also ended up with highlighter palette, oops. Definitely spent too much on make up this month! However I have been lusting after the MakeUp Revolution x Soph Highlighter Palette for what feels like forever. It’s got a variety of shades and in all honestly it’ll be great for any occasion because you can mix up the make up look you’re going for by using any of the shades in the palette. The price of £8 is reasonable when you consider that there’s 8 shades, so it’s essentially £1 a pan; excellent value for money, although I’ll likely only use the 4 shades that are light enough for my skin tone.

I also ended up with the MakeUp Revolution x Soph Eyeshadow Palette a couple of days later. As much as I was wary about spending another £10 on make up, I’d been tempted by this palette for a while. There are 24 different shades, even mixtures of shades and shimmers and I didn’t have another palette like it, so I feel like I’ll get good use out of it. I doubt that I’ll use every single one of the shades on a regular basis, but there’s plenty of shades that I will use regularly enough to make the money worth it; plus I love the sturdy feel of the palette, it feels like it’ll travel well. Lastly, I purchased the Anna Sui Fantasia 50ml EDT and it feels like forever since I last splurged on a perfume! For £45, it wasnt the cheapest of purchases, but unfortunately perfume is one of those things that I just can’t resist, I wear a bit of perfume every day and I own far too many perfumes. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous bottle of this one; the delicate gold, the unicorn... All of it! I haven’t used it properly yet, but I have smelt the perfume and as I love floral and fruity smells this one was going to be a new love of mine. I do feel a little guilty as I’ve spent a fairy amount of money on beauty related items this month, but I’m hoping that each item will last a while so I can go back to my usual budget for now. Let me know in the comments what you think of these kinds of posts as I love getting feedback! :)

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Book Review: The Last Anniversary

I’ve read so many novels by Liane Moriarty now that I’m not even surprised that I enjoyed this one; although I admit that I was drawn in pretty quickly by the interesting title and equally interesting blurb. Sophie has spent years wondering if she did the right thing by dumping the nicest guy that she’s ever dated, just as he was planning a romantic getaway to propose to her (ironically, he is now married to someone else and completely out of her life). Unsurprisingly, it comes as a shock when he suddenly gets back in touch to let her know that his Great-Grandmother Connie, has died and left Sophie her house. Thomas is genuinely happy for Sophie, but his sister, Veronika is not so enamoured with the results of Connie’s will. Sophie has no idea how complicated her life is going to become as she prepares to move onto Scribby Gum Island and fit herself into Thomas’ rather large family. No other families live on the Island, only the Doughty family since their ancestors won a bet to own it. The Island is home to one of Australia’s most famous unsolved mysteries; a mystery that Sophie herself loved as she grew up, visiting the Island countless times to see the mysterious elements of it.

The mystery surrounding the Island is the ‘Munro Baby’, also known as Grandma Enigma. Sisters Connie and Rose we’re heading to tea at the house of Alice and Jack Munro to find that they had disappeared from the cottage and left their baby in the cot - a baby that is now in her seventies. The sisters turned the mystery into an elaborate business venture, with guided tours of the Island the cottage, left in its original state and various items that can be bought from their gift shop. As the family has grown, more of them have coupled up and started families, but all of them contribute to the annual anniversary of the mystery; a massive party with face painting, food and drink and other entertainment for adults, children and anyone who is curious about the mystery. This years anniversary has more pressure than ever, due to wanting to live up to Connie’s memory; the sister who had the most vision for the business that came alongside of the mystery. The Munro Baby case was the thing that really threaded this whole story together and it added another side to the overall plot.

The other side of the plot contained so many family members, all with their stories, secrets and fears; it wasn't a surprise that it all began to unravel as the novel started to take shape. However, the characters who concerned me the most were Grace, Sophie and Thomas; all of them weren't as happy as they should be and it seemed a bit complicated. As much as Veronika had some slightly strange habits, her thirst for knowledge was pretty interesting; such as her attempts to uncover the mystery were commendable and to be honest, fairly entertaining. Sophie's incessant issue with constantly blushing made me cringe alongside her a little, too; that aside, she does seem like a good person, although the amount of bad decisions that she made and the range of situations that she found herself in drove me insane! Grace was a concern as it was clear she was suffering from some kind of undiagnosed health condition that is affecting her in all parts of her life. All of the topics covered throughout this novel are fairly modern issues, such as Post-Natal depression, marriage, children and family life, insecurity and many others. Despite there being some difficult subjects to discuss, Moriarty managed to weave these topics into her characters realistically and flawlessly.

Overall, I found this book to be fascinating. I found myself desperate to know the story behind the Munro Baby Mystery and actually it was nice that nothing was revealed until fairly late into the book as it made the book so much more interesting; although the answer was well written and delivered a lot of understanding, it was also slightly predictable, which was a little disappointing. I felt like myself and any other reader would benefit from a family tree alongside the map of the Island at the start of the book as there were so many family members once partners were included; for most books having so many characters would result in an absolute mess, but as I have read so many of Moriarty's novels now that I'm used to her way of working multiple narrators into her stories. In fact, this is what makes her books so enjoyable. I liked this novel, but I didn't love it; it had a lot of potential to be a 5 star read but honestly, there was something missing for me; the ending was a a disappointment after loving the majority of the tale, so it's a 4 star, but definitely worth a read. Families are never quite as they seem.

Friday, 16 March 2018

March Playlist

Hello again guys; I have to admit that I feel like I’ve lost my blogging mojo this month... I usually post a lot more regularly, with a lot more variety but to be honest I’ve been enjoying reading in the evenings, losing myself in another world so blogging has taken a slight backseat, oops. However, on the way to and from work I’ve been loving listening to music, just like I always have. All of the songs below are in no particular order, as always; I’ve been listening to songs old and new, in different languages and also different genres; I love listening to any kind of music, dependant on my mood but at the minute I’m loving fast paced songs to walk to, or even to wake up to. (I have a habit of falling asleep on buses...) What kind of music do you like to listen to? Let me know in the comments! As I’ve got older I’ve definitely become more open minded in terms of what I listen to, liking a song because I want to, not because it fits a look or is cool - as you can probably tell by the mess that is my monthly playlists, haha. Until next month! :)

1. Tan Fàcil - CNCO
2. The Greatest - Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar
3. Stronger - Kanye West
4. Heartlines - Florence + The Machine
5. Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray
6. Come & Get It - Selena Gomez
7. Chandelier - Sia
8. Rootless - Marina and the Diamonds
9. No Light, No Light - Florence + The Machine
10. We Can’t Stop - Miley Cyrus
11. Learn To Love Again - Lawson
12. Devuélveme Mi Cirazón - CNCO
13. Who Knew - P!nk
14. Ex’s & Oh’s - Elle King
15. Battle For The Sun - Placebo

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things

First of all, the cover art of this novel is not only quite unusual, it’s so simple yet eye-catching that it literally made me want to read it straight away. (Yes I’m one of those people who judges a book by its cover and I know that is a terrible habit, ha). I liked the fact that this is a Young Adult novel that isn’t about love and instead is about friendship; how opposites can attract. Caddy and Rosie have been the best of friends for over ten years, staying close even though they attend different schools. Caddy attends a private girls’ school and Rosie the local comprehensive. As a result, Caddy is extremely shy, most likely because she is always with Rosie and doesn’t make much of an effort with her schoolfriends (and she doesn’t really know any boys… at all). She dreams of being more confident and outgoing, like Rosie, but it doesn’t come naturally to Caddy; she’s genuinely does prefer fading into the background a little although she doesn’t seem to struggle with making friends, as Rosie isn’t her sole friend, but she seems to prioritise her to all of her school friends, often rebuffing their invitations for social events, choosing to see Rosie instead. In fairness, Rosie does seem like a good friend, but on the surface they don’t seem to have much in common, if anything. For a sixteen year old girl, Caddy seems to have a lot of freedom as she goes to a lot of parties and gets drunk fairly regularly, too.

So, Caddy makes a plan. She wants to become more interesting, have ‘significant’ things happen to her, such as losing her virginity and getting a boyfriend. In short, she’s a typically selfish and spoiled teenage girl. She compares herself to her sister Tarin, who is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and Rosie, who lost a sibling. Caddy thinks that this makes them interesting – the issue that I had is that mental illness and tragic events aren’t interesting, they’re not something to be trivialised or misunderstood. Neither of those things are easy to live with, but Caddy doesn’t seem to be able to realise that. When Suzanne, a new girl at Rosie’s school joins in their friendship group, Caddy is immediately jealous, certain that she is going to lose her best friend. At this point, I found Caddy to be infuriating; she is the definition of me, me, me and that’s always irritating but she does start caring for others more over the course of the novel. The novel is told purely from Caddy’s point of view, so all of the character development is described through Caddy; to start with, we see the three girls in a group of friends, at the cinema and various tourist spots in Brighton before seeing more of an intimate, three way friendship. Caddy and Suzanne bond surprisingly well, although Caddy’s intentions are good, I wasn’t convinced that she liked her that much to being with; she found her ‘interesting’ as Suzanne has suffered a difficult upbringing. That said, it was great to read a YA book that covers drug and alcohol abuse, relationships, mental health and domestic violence without sugarcoating the issues; it showed the high and lows of teenage life.

Suzanne is everything that Caddy would love to be; beautiful, funny and sexually active. Caddy is sensitive, kind and well meaning, but she also encourages Suzanne too much, which is why the two girls become closer than Rosie and Caddy ever were, often sneaking out their houses late at night to see each other. Together, the two girls are pretty dangerous and seem to have no sense of safety; not a good combination. However, as the plot developed so did their friendship and I liked how they connected regardless of class or privilege. Caddy’s parents weren’t supportive enough of the friendship at all, which really irritated me as Caddy truly did try to be a good friend to Suzanne, although sometimes she definitely judged situations wrongly. Suzanne wasn’t the best influence on Caddy, but in fairness she seemed to really want to impress Caddy and keep her as her best friend; the three way friendship seems quite strained at times, particularly as Rosie started to feel deliberately excluded from the others, although Caddy wasn’t impressed to know that they both talked about her behind her back, too. I loved the fact that the novel was more about relationships in terms of friendship than the romantic kind; it makes a nice change. The introduction of Suzanne into Caddy and Rosie’s very stable friendship was a nice touch and definitely took the novel along a different path. In all honesty, Suzanne makes the plot what it is; she adds a level of excitement and fun that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise; I can see why the author has described it as a ‘love story without a romance’ because that summarises the book completely in its entirety. It is a funny, cute and heartbreaking tale of teenage friendship, one that explores emotions, situations and the difficulty of starting to grow up. The three girls learn a lot about themselves, each other and the consequences of their actions. I loved the friendship between Rosie and Caddy as it wasn’t only solid, it felt real; even as some cracks started to show, ultimately they had each other’s backs and it was lovely to see their closeness develop further. The relationship between Rosie and Suzanne was nice to see too; as much as Rosie could be dismissive of Suzanne’s struggles, she was always honest about her misgivings about Caddy getting into trouble, and ultimately Rosie was a lifesaver. Caddy and Suzanne’s friendship was incredibly close, but also a bit of a surprise as on the surface, they had absolutely nothing in common, but a Caddy was a great listener and offered up her time whenever it mattered. Between the three girls, they were daring, reckless and realistic and that’s what made the novel enjoyable. I read this on a long journey and it was perfect; easy to read but full with interesting moments, both good and bad. The ending had me pretty emotional, too. I give it a good 4 stars because I liked the characters and the writing style, but it’s a little too young for me to give it 5; not trying to sound harsh, haha. Definitely give it a go!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

A Book Haul #3

Hello again guys; over the past couple of months I feel like my bookcases have started to struggle with the amount of books that I've purchased, oops. Recently I've been loving discovering gems for as little as 20p in charity shops or in Libraries that are selling off their excess stock. I'm sorry if it seems like I've posted a ridiculous amount of book hauls over the past few months, the reason behind my excessive book buying is not only do I love a good book, it is also a reasonably inexpensively enjoyable hobby once you know where to find the best titles for excellent prices too. Plus, it's always nice to escape the world around you and focus on another world for a few hours. Below are the titles that I've been naughty and bought this week alone:

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
Girl at War by Sara Nović
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Johnathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Suzanna Clarke
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

As I've previously mentioned in other posts, I'm sucker for beautiful covers, but I also do read a bit of everything, too. I've read some of the books below already, but they're the kind of reads that I'd love to reread at some point as they were that good that they're still on my mind, a couple of months afterward. (That is the sign of an excellent novel!) I do feel like I need to invest in a larger bookcase now though as I have literally ran out of any space at all and I doubt I'll stop wanting to buy books any time soon. I've recently joined two Book Clubs, which I'm really excited about as I've been wanting to join one for ages now. Are any of you members of book clubs, reading or have read any of the books included in this haul or on Goodreads? Let me know in the comments :)

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Book Review: One of us is Lying

It feels like I’ve been loving YA recently and honestly; that’s not a bad thing at all! There are so many amazing pieces of work out there in the YA genre and this one of the best that I’ve read so far. There are five teenagers all stuck in detention, yet whilst they’re in the room, one of them dies. The question is, how, and who? Typically, no one points fingers at the teacher, yet everyone seems to pick on each of the teenagers, desperate to have answers and find out whodunnit. The dead teen is a notorious gossip, known at the school for writing nasty and vindictive blog posts on an app about other students. The four teenagers who survived detention each have a secret, and each of them fits the stereotypical American teen mould; a geek, a jock, a criminal and a princess. This book is addictive from the get go, with events constantly happening, from page to page. One of the things that I absolutely loved about this novel was the characterisation; it took a few chapters to start understanding who was who as there were so many characters, but once the foundations were in place it was interesting to see how certain characters developed, particularly as many of them fitted into a stereotype at the start of the novel, but they evolved as the novel progressed. 

The writing style of using multiple narrators through diary entries works really well, particularly as the four narrators are the four accused students. It was a great way to see into their minds as well as the outside world from their point of view. From the cover artwork, to the blurb and finally the eventual text, this was a completely addictive read as you were constantly focused on guessing the truth of Simon's death; an unlucky accident, or cold-blooded murder? Due to his reputation as a cut throat gossip, it is no wonder that the police are convinced that it was murder, but the real questions are how, who and why. Simon was hated by so many students, but the four students who were with him in detention that day all have their own secret that they would be desperate to hide from the world. Simon never mentions names in his posts, but initials; just enough of a detail to guarantee that everyone will know exactly who he is talking about. The four students speculate between themselves why they got detention for having phones when the phones they found in their bags weren't their phones; who planned to get them all in one place and where they all simply there on purpose? The novel looks at all possible angles, with the narrative voice giving insight into each of the four students in turn, with just enough information given to make you wonder endlessly who was the culprit. Who was reckless enough to murder another student.

The writing style of diary entries worked really well as it allowed the reader to see the story from different points of view; however this also made it difficult to ascertain which one of the students could've been the murderer. That said, I loved that it was hard to determine what was going on, but I wish that there had been more of an angle from the Police's line of inquiry, especially as they seemed to be so inept. This book covered a range of topics across its pages, including sexuality, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, relationships amongst many others. To begin with, the characters do seem quite on-dimensional but as their personalities formed they became not only more realistic, but more likeable (or not, depending on which character you focus on). I liked that not a single character was perfect; they each had a flaw that added to the plot; Addy and Nate definitely had the most character development and growth of the four students, with Cooper and Bronwyn seemingly more interested in their careers and futures but the foursome's relationship does increase a lot during the accusations, which was also pleasant to see, rather than fighting and blaming each other.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book; it was almost impossible to put down due to its fast paced writing style and interesting plot. Until the characters were fully developed, it was a little confusing to work out who was the narrator at one time; to start with the narrative style was very similar. That was a slight irritation, but as the chapters did state the name, date, time and location of the narrator that was something to just sit back and flow along with. After a few chapters, once personalities and ideas started flowing, the book flowed with more ease. I love a book that constantly forces you to guess what is going on, or who the culprit may be and this book doesn't stop doing it; even the ending was a surprise regardless of the fact that I'd guessed it, as the book wasn't solely about Simon's death; it was about growth. Growing up, finding yourself, supporting other people were key aspects to the narrative that didn't involve that detention and what had happened to Simon. It's a memorable book for me; it's one that I've already recommended to friends and I simply enjoyed it, I liked the unpredictability of the characters and the plot and I also liked that it wasn't a stereotypical high school novel, there was much more to the whole book than meets the eye. It's an easy 5 stars from me, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fiction.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A Book Haul #2

Hello again guys; here is another book haul (I know, it is fairly soon after I decided to post my first ever book haul, but oh well - I've genuinely bought a LOT of books recently). Over the past year or so I've been loving my kindle less, which is strange as for quite a few years I only ever read from a kindle. Now, I love to read from a book because I do like to try and limit the amount of hours that I spend staring at a screen as I do suffer from headaches quite often and quite badly. Over the past month I've found a charity sop nearby that sells an amazing variety of books for an incredible 20p each and in such good condition too. Weirdly, I found some lovely copies of classics in Homesense of all places and naturally I had to snap up a classic that I loved as a child and hated as a teenager (thank you, a level english literature...) for a decent price of £2.99. There are so many lovely titles to explore and in all honesty, it does feel like my reading list is forever growing, which as much as that is great and I love it, I do need to start reading some of the books that I buy, oops! The list of titles that I've bought this month are:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
After You by Jojo Moyes
Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

In fairness, I have actually read some of these titles before (and reviewed them on this blog and goodreads too) but I do like to collect things a bit too much and books have become my latest collective obsession - on the plus side, books are reasonably affordable to buy compared to some of things that I've wanted to collect before (e.g. jewellery) especially when you shop around from places such as amazon, eBay, libraries and charity shops. I really want to join a book club, actually so we'll see how things go over the next couple of months, maybe I'll bite the bullet and join one. Let me know in the comments what you think of these kinds of posts :)

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