Monday, 29 August 2016

What I Got For My Birthday | 3

I wasn't expecting to write another post following on from my What I Got For My Birthday Parts 1 and 2, as I assumed that I had received all of my very generous presents early, and on the day i would be just cake and cards.  As it happened, my family and friends had a few extra bits for me!

Laura Mercier Tarte Au Citron Eau de Toilette
I have been talking about this perfume for the best part of a year after trying it in Space NK, because it smells incredible. I'm not really one for perfume most of the time, as I find that a lot of them just smell really chemical and not very nice.  This Laura Mercier Eau de Toilette is right up my street.  Sweet but not overpoweringly so, it lives up to its name of Tarte au Citron.  I smell like a god damn dessert and I love it!  Hints of vanilla with a sharpness from the citrus to cut through it, I've concluded that if I'm wearing perfume it's one that makes me smell like a lemony princess.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
I had a sneaking suspicion that my Nan had bought this for me, which is why I didn't purchase it for myself earlier.  I desperately want to see the stage show, despite the mixed reviews, but there's no chance of that happening any time soon.  I'm looking forward to making my own mind up on Cursed Child.

 GUMY Running Earphones
I recently took up running and am working my way through the NHS Couch to 5K program, which requires me to listen to a podcast as I run.  Predictably, my current earphones aren't up to the task and I spend half my time putting them back in my ears rather than actually paying attention to running.  Hopefully these will help with that!

Benefit Porefessional Gift Set
I tried some of the Benefit Porefessional range several months ago and fell in love with it, but somehow never got around to actually buying any of it.  My Mum picked up this cute gift set which contains several items from the range in a dinky travel size, making it perfect for taking away with me or for throwing in my handbag.
 Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina
 My Nan came up trumps with this one!  The Stay All Day liquid lipstick does what it says on the tin, and the shade Patina is gorgeous, a mauve-pink that's really flattering on my skin-tone.

Ferrero Rocher
 As you can see, I didn't really get chance to photograph these before my locust family moved in and devoured most of them (with my help), but I can assure you that they were delicious!

I've had a really wonderful birthday; quite quiet but filled with my favourite people and some really excellent gifts! I am truly grateful for all of my family, even the ones who drive me mad sometimes...

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Loney by Andrew Hurley | Review

I'm going to start out by telling you that this book majorly creeped me out.  For 90% of the book there was nothing to be scared of out in the open, but a constant creeping sense of being watched, coupled with a sense of impending danger lent this book some serious gravitas.  I read it in one sitting, not because I was very absorbed in the plot, but because I wanted to know where that odd watchfulness came from, and to seek reassurance that the characters felt it too.  

The Loney follows two brothers, Smith and Hanny, as they and their Catholic family head off on their annual Easter retreat with the hopes of finding a "cure" for Hanny's mute nature.  In truth, this is another one of those books in which not a great deal happens for quite some time, and instead it is the atmosphere of the book that draws you in.  At the very start of the book Smith and Hanny are grown, and grown apart, but quickly the reader is catapulted back to the 70s for the events of one particular Easter.  The Loney itself is the mysterious setting for much of the book; a place of fierce tides and little life, it is the location of the Catholic retreat to which the family have been journeying for years. 

I'm still not entirely sure what happened at the end, and I almost don't want to know.  The little that was revealed was plenty for me, and even writing this several days later I don't quite want to think about the ending and its implications too closely.  

There's only so much I can write about Andrew Hurley's novel without spoiling the plot, but if you are a fan of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and other gothic authors I urge you to give this a try.  The heavy symbolism throughout and the constant oppressive air is reminsicent of classic gothic literature, and in my opinions, it's up there with the best of them.  

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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Where I Am Right Now | Sheffield

Last Sunday my Mother and I decided to go on a spontaneous trip to Sheffield.   After dropping my brother off at Manchester airport for his flight to Calgary, we pulled out the road atlas, followed a few roads and ended up deciding that Sheffield would be a good drive.  

We drove through the Pennines via the Snake Pass, which if you know anything about the roads up North you'll have heard of.  It is both notorious and glorious. It claims the lives of a many motorcyclist every year, but it set in some of England's most beautiful scenery.  It's beloved by bikers for its twists and turns and the spectacular views, and the majority of the other people on the roads we saw that day were motorcyclists.  

I had been to Sheffield before to visit a friend for a day, and was surprised at just how green the city was.  My Mother had never visited, so we were looking forward to getting a little snapshot of the city.
Please forgive me for the less than stellar quality of the photograph of the Snake Pass; it was taken through a windscreen, at speed, with my phone, but it gives you an idea for the rich colours of the Pennines and the winding nature of the road.  

 I failed to break into Sheffield's green police box, despite my hopes that there would be some kind of alternate version of The Doctor in there, but Sheffield definitely succeeded in providing us with a beautiful day to see the city on.  There were kids' fairground rides in the city centre, and a DJ blasting cheesy music.  My Mother took a video of the two of us singing along loudly to Mamma Mia but I have been forced to promise that it shall never see the light of the internet.  Just know this: it was incredible and we're going to be on X Factor next year for sure (is X Factor even still a thing?).

With a little emergency guidance from a passerby, we made our way to the Millennium Gallery, playing "count-the-water-feature" as we went.  Seriously, there's about fifty water features in a square mile of Sheffield's town centre; it's crazy.  I really wanted to take my Mum to the Millennium Gallery to see the batshit crazy cutlery monster.  Since Sheffield is known for its stainless steel, especially in the use of cutlery they have a whole gallery dedicated to the stuff.  

That gallery also doubles as a slightly odd greenhouse/tropical garden thing, and it's a delight to walk around.  We didn't get nearly as long as we would have liked to look around, us being numpties and forgetting that it was Sunday.  We only had about twenty minutes to look around, snap some photos and get out, but I could have spent at least an hour just in the museum part.

 Sheffield was at its best that Sunday, but we got to see only a very small part of it.  I've heard good things about the botanic gardens and the indie bookshops, so I definitely want to make another trip back.

I also posted a few pictures on my instagram from the trip to Sheffield, so the link is below if you fancy checking them out!

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Dust by Mark Thompson | Blog Tour Review *

I was pleased to be asked to participate in the blog tour for the debut novel of Mark Thompson, entitled Dust.  After finishing the ARC sent over to me by Red Door Publishing, I realised just how grateful I was for the opportunity, as it led me to discover an incredibly moving tale of two boys in New Jersey, and their journey to discover more about themselves and the world around them.  This was not the type of book I would ordinarily pick, as I tend to naturally gravitate towards the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres.  I'm very happy I decided to review this, as it turned out to be a real work of art.  

Due to be published on the 8th of September in both ebook and print format, this is a book not to be missed by fans of John Steinbeck, Philipp Meyer and Harper Lee.

Dust tells the story of J.J. and Tony "El Greco" Papadakis, two young boys living in suburban New Jersey in the late 1960s.  Dust follows the two friends through three years of mischief, rebellion, and life-changing events as they grow up together.  We see the world through the eyes of J.J., who idolises El Greco for his intelligence and wit, yet is very aware that El Greco's home life is far from ideal.  The two explore what it means to live, and how different that is for different people.  They experience prejudice in its many forms, and the truth of the statement "good people can do bad things".

Dust reminded me a great deal of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, yet Thompson is far less heavy handed in his dealing with serious social issues than Lee.  The focus of the story is always on the friendship of the two boys.  J.J. and El Greco are voluntary outcasts, choosing to shock the adults with their every decision and isolate themselves from most other children, they are almost entirely wrapped up in their own world - yet the outside world refuses, in that way it does, to let them be.  

Quite slow in pace, Dust is character rather than plot driven.  The writing style reminds one of a natural train of thought, allowing the reader to follow the flow very naturally from one scene to another, resulting in more than one slightly suprised time check as I realised that I had read for far longer than intended.  J.J. often goes off on mental tangents, but they are always connected and serve as a meaningful reflection on the world around him.  J.J. and El Greco experience the two sides of 1960s America; sleepy small town life, and the world changing events of the 60s, such as the Vietnam war, extreme racial prejudice and the moon landing.  As the book progresses J.J. and El Greco learn more and more about their neighbours and themselves.

Mark Thompson in Dust has written a very accurate tale that reminds you of what it is like to be a child on the cusp of adulthood - or at least teenager-hood.  The boys are at times both childish and perceptive, seeing much that the adults in the book believe them oblivious to.  I have a great deal of admiration for any author that can write a book where not much happens, yet keeps the reader engaged.  There are no dramatic disasters in the small town of Oceanside; indeed the closest thing to a disaster occurs within the first few pages.  Instead the trials and tribulations suffered by the characters are intensely personal, and often only affect them directly.

Thompson's Dust, as a debut novel, is extraordinary.  Thought provoking and absorbing, I couldn't put it down.  I felt a real connection to the characters of J.J. and El Greco, but equally I could imagine the exasperation of their parents resulting from some of their antics.  Subtle and delicately written, this is a heart breaking novel about the loss of innocence in all its forms.

The Author

Mark Thompson was raised in Stockton-on-Tees, England, and spent many years living in London before moving to Andalucia in southern Spain. He has travelled extensively throughout the United States over many years, harvesting material for writing both literature and songs. He plays guitar in a rock band, and now lives happily in the wilds of North Yorkshire with his partner Liz and three children.

 I highly recommend having a read of the other reviews and interviews as part of the Dust Blog Tour!

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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Gash | Review

Hey all!  Just a wee product review for you today, as I'm absolutely loving this new Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in the unfortunately named Gash.  I wore it for a full day to test how long wearing and comfortable it really is, so keep reading to find out more.

At £15 this is pretty reasonable for the a brand like Urban Decay, and the brand is becoming increasingly accessible as they are now available in Debenhams as well as House of Fraser and John Lewis.  The shade I have (purchased for me as a birthday gift by my lovely Aunt) is a gorgeous deep berry shade with the tiniest hint of a shimmer.  

I wore the lipstick for a full day while out in Sheffield, reapplying after a meal and then again after coffee and cake. 

As you can see, when I first left the house I had great coverage and Gash does have excellent colour pay off, as this was with just one coat.

I snapped a quick update in the loo at Wagamama Sheffield so you could see how it had worn off during my meal.  It had faded quite a lot in colour, and had worn away completely from the inner portion of my lips.  Were this a matte lipstick I would be pretty grumpy about this, but cream lipsticks don't last anywhere near as long, so I just swiped on another coat and was good to go.

I reapplied again after coffee, but had to completely remove my earlier coat as it was starting to flake a little bit from being layered.  That's my own fault as much as anything for being a lazy reapplier!

Although the Vice Cream Lipstick in Gash didn't turn out to be very long lasting, it was very comfortable to wear and quite moisturising on the lips, and the colour is gorgeously intense.  

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

What I Got For My Birthday | 2

 Remember how in my previous birthday post I mentioned that I had been ordered to spend rather than save the money given to me for my birthday?  I took them at their word and what follows is the glorious fruit of my labours (by labours I mean internet shopping).

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light

My face is basically the moon.  It's pale and round, and I've been wanting to try contouring for a long time in an attempt to give some sort of structure, but I've seriously struggled to find anything even close to a half decent colour. Most contour powders or bronzers are orange/brown in tone, and no matter how pale the colour or how lightly I applied it, it just looked awful on my pinkish-blue skin.  I had heard a good deal about the Sculpting Powder and it has the grey tone I was after!  It gives the effect of a natural shadow in a way that no other powder has managed.  It was a gamble, not being able to swatch it and the hefty price tag, but I had exhausted all of the drugstore options and several of the more high end.  I'm absolutely loving the Sculpting Powder, and don't know how I ever lived without it!

Also, can we talk about the packaging for a moment?  It comes with a little velvet pouch which as won me over completely.  It's the most luxurious feeling product I own, and I just want it to be on display all the time.  I'm a little bit obsessed. 


Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector

I think I might be the last beauty blogger in the world to try the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors.  I love highlighters, and decided that it was about time I gave these a try!  I went for Moonstone, which is a gorgeous pale gold.  It was a toss up between Moonstone and Pearl, as I suspected that the other shades would be a bit too dark for my skin tone, after trying Moonstone I am in love with it and now want Pearl as well!  It's a finely milled powder that reflects the light beautifully.  Combined with the Sculpting Powder, I almost have cheekbones!


Zoeva Cocoa Blend

Since the only eyeshadow palette I owned before this was Naked 2, I was seriously in need of another.  I wanted a palette with a few more matte shades, as Naked 2 is predominantly shimmer and I was in dire need of a matte crease colour.  I dithered over which Zoeva palette I wanted for ages, but decided I wanted to go with Zoeva very quickly.  After seeing swatches and reading reviews online, I knew I wanted to give them a go.  They also seem to be underrepresented as a brand and having now given these a try, I have to ask why?!  I freaking love this palette and I haven't touched Naked 2 since it arrived.  It has the four crucial matte shades I was after, and six metallic and shimmer shades that are all to die for.  I'm still working out how to use the more purple toned shades, but I'm loving the golds and coppers.  The packaging is cardboard but feels pretty strong and is very lightweight, making it great for travelling.


Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

I may have used some of this to take my makeup off while staying at a friend's house a few months ago (sorry Lou) and fell in love with it.  My skin feels so freaking clean after using it and I'm never going back!


Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask

I have pretty dry skin, and I'd been hearing the rumblings about the PTR Pumpkin Enzyme Mask for a while and knew I had to give it a try.  I've been warned to be careful because apparently this can burn like hell, but losing a few layers of my epidermis is sometimes exactly what I need so what the hell!  Expect a full review of this next month when I've had chance to test it fully.

So there you have it!  Cult Beauty, Look Fantastic and Zoeva are all a little richer and I am poorer but prettier.  An excellent way to spend my birthday money imho.

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