Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Some of My Favourite Books

I could never have predicted that these books would become some of my favourites, and that's one of the reasons why I think I love them. They're a breath of fresh air.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova 
When Alice finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of Alzheimer's Disease she is just fifty years old. A university professor, wife, and mother of three, she still has so much more to do - books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But when she can't remember how to make her famous Christmas pudding, when she gets lost in her own back yard, when she fails to recognise her actress daughter after a superb performance, she comes up with a desperate plan. But can she see it through? Should she see it through? Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging on by a couple of frayed threads. But she is still Alice.

I remember buying this simply based on the reviews, but couldn't see myself loving it. How could I relate to the main character when we're so different? Well, I loved it. Reading the progression the disease has on someone, seeing them slip away, and the effects it has on those closest to them really makes an impact. There's a part near the beginning where Alice is eating an ice cream, and she doesn't want the day to come when see can't even remember how to prevent it dripping down her hand. Towards the end of the book, she's eating an ice cream with it dripping down her hand, and it's a sad moment. I'd wholeheartedly recommend giving this book a read.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 
Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver . . . There's Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell...

I read this ages ago, so I can't remember all the details, but I know I loved it. This was another book that I thought wouldn't be for me, and I actually disliked the first however many pages. I ended up loving it, though, and it's one of those books which opens your eyes and makes you think about the wider issues in this world. I don't agree with the hype surrounding a lot of things, but I can see why this book is loved by many.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes 
France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie's portrait - painted by Edouard - a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision. Almost a century later, and Sophie's portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting's true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv's life upside down all over again . . . In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for what they love most - whatever the cost.
A book following the history of a painting? Not for me, I said. Again, I was wrong. I couldn't get into it at first, but soon couldn't put it down. I didn't realise how caught up I was in the past until it flicked to the present and I just had to know what happened. Slow at first, but I'm glad I persevered. 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop, and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now, and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
This is another book which really makes you think, and I love it for that. It's so much more than your typical romance. It looks at serious issues, and shows you that some things are not black and white. The ending reinforces this, and left my emotions torn for the characters. Definitely give this a read, if you haven't already.

Belle by Lesley Pearce 
She witnessed a murder - and now her life is in danger . . . Fifteen year-old Belle, though raised in a London brothel, is an innocent. But when she witnesses one of the girls brutally strangled by a client, she is cast into a cruel, heartless world. Snatched from the streets and sold into prostitution, she is made a courtesan in New Orleans. At the mercy of desperate men who crave her beauty and will do anything to keep her, Belle's dreams of home, family, and freedom appear futile. Are Belle's courage and spirit strong enough to help her escape? And what will await her at the end of the long, dangerous journey home?
I bought this from a charity shop because the blurb instantly intrigued me. It's a large book, but so eventful that it didn't drag. The topic is one that grips you, that's for sure. There were a couple things that could have been improved upon, though. The main character was a little too naive at times, especially towards the end of the book when you think she'd learnt her lesson. The ending was also left a little too neat for my liking. It's still a book I'd recommend, though. I haven't read the books following this one yet because I read some major spoilers, but they're on my list of ones to get around to.

I haven't featured any dystopian books in this post because my favourites are parts of series. I feel like it's difficult to capture a dystopian society in one book. Some of my favourites include the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, the Maze Runner series by James Dashner, and of course The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins.
Please leave your book recommendations below!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Bedside Beauty

I've unintentionally accumulated a small gathering of products beside my bed, and thought I'd talk a little about them today.

Just before bed, I'll sometimes want to moisturise areas such as my elbows, knees, and feet. My body butter of choice at the moment is Soap & Glory's Sugar Crush Body Buttercream (review here), but I'm also a fan of The Body Shop's Raspberry and Vineyard Peach varieties. They all smell incredible, aren't too greasy, and provide my skin with a lot of moisture, leaving it soft and subtle.

I've also been moisturising my hands before bed because they've been needing more TLC since starting work. I'm absolutely loving the Figs & Rouge Hand Cream in Cherry Blossom (review here). It isn't greasy in the slightest, but still leaves your hands feeling hydrated. It also smells amazing!

For facial moisturisers, I have the Organic Surge Blissful Daily Moisturiser (thoughts here) and the Balance Me Moisture Rich Face Cream. I used, loved, and finished my pot of Organic Surge Super Intensive Daily Moisturiser, so am now making my way through the Blissful Daily version. It's obviously not as moisturising, but still sinks in well and leaves my skin feeling soft. The Balance Me one is a generous sample I received in a magazine the other month, and I'm still making my mind up about it. It isn't greasy, and leaves my skin adequately moisturised, but it's heavily fragranced. If you don't like strong rose scents, you'll struggle to use this.

For lips, I have the Blistex Intensive Moisturiser and Nivea Soft Rose Lip Balm. The Blistex Intensive Moisturiser is amazing, and leaves my lips feeling softer than any other product. More often than not, though, I find myself gravitating towards the Nivea Soft Rose Lip Balm because my lips don't need the Blistex one every night. The Nivea one is just like your standard tube of lip balm, but it's one I use a lot.

For blemishes, I use the Nelsons Pure & Clear Blemish Gel. It seems to do the job better than others I've tried, and that includes Lush's Grease Lightning.

Then I just have some products that I haven't been using that often, but are there just in case. I'm still deciding whether The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisture Serum gives my skin any extra moisture. I'm honestly not sure. Then there's the Superdrug Vitamin E Skin Oil, which I'll use if my skin is feeling particularly dry (which is not that often).

Have you tried any of these? What products do you use in the evenings/just before bed?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Bargain Beauty Haul

I've bagged some great bargains recently, especially in the last few days, so thought I'd gather them together and have a little ramble!

The first product is the Nina Ricci Nina perfume. I was going to buy this from Boots, but found it on allbeauty.com for £31.80 instead of £54. Although it's still not the cheapest perfume out there, I thought it was a great discount.

On top sits a set of three Revlon ColourBurst Lip Butters in Berry Smoothie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Peach Parfait (all shades I've considered buying in the past). I found this little gem in TK Maxx for £7.99, instead of £7.99 each. It's the first decent beauty item I've found in there! 

I bought the Maybelline Elixir in Mandarin Rapture in Boots yesterday. This retails for £6.99, but I used a couple of vouchers towards it. There's also a 3 for 2 on all Maybelline products at the moment, if you're interested. Apart from the slight shimmer (and it's only slight), I like this so far. It reminds me of the NYX Butter Glosses, in the sense that it's balmy, glossy, and still packs a punch of colour. Unfortunately, we don't have a huge shade selection over here in the UK, but there's still a couple of others I have my eye on.

The EOS Sweet Mint Lip Balm wasn't a huge bargain, but thought I'd include it here anyway. I bought it from Amazon for £3.91 including P&P, but they've now changed the price, so I'd suggest looking around yourself. I wanted to know if these hyped little balls were any good before buying a big value pack for presents. So far, so good. I'll keep you posted!

The Witch primers were on clearance in Superdrug for £1.75, and they were buy one get one free. Two primers for £1.75? Yes, please! The Superdrug Colour Effects Conditioning Colours (£1.49) were also buy one get one free, so I picked up a couple more.

I definitely didn't need any more wipes, but had a £5 No7 voucher to use, so thought I'd pick up the No7 Beautiful Skin Quick Thinking Wipes (£7). My staff discount on top made these just 42p. It would have been rude not to! I then bought the Beautiful Skin Cleansing Balm (£9.50) with another voucher I had, and ended up paying just £2.36 for this. Lastly, on the No7 front, I bought the BB Lips Beauty Balms in Geranium and Blush Coral (£9 each). I had a £3 off voucher, and because I bought two makeup products, I received a free gift box. It contains a mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and eyeshadow brush. The shades are ones my mum will love, so I'm going to give it to her as a present.

There's currently a 3 for 2 across all hair products in Boots, so I picked up the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor (£4.99), the Naked Rescue Intensive Care Shampoo (£4.39), and the Naked Rescue Intensive Care Conditioner (£4.39). I also had 25% off and double points vouchers, making these even cheaper.

After I bought these (and annoyingly used my 25% off voucher), I noticed that the Organix Hydrating Macadamia Oil Shampoo and Conditioner bottles were on clearance for £1.75 each (down from £6.99). They also qualified for the 3 for 2 offer and discount, so I paid just £1.02 each. I think it was meant to be because there were just three bottles left, and two of them were shampoo (I go through more shampoo than I do conditioner).

Have you picked up any bargains recently?

Monday, 1 September 2014

Figs & Rouge Hand Creams

Up until recently, hand cream was never part of my beauty routine. My hands and cuticles were never dry, and received enough moisture from applying body butter to other areas. Then I started work, and they began to go through a lot more. 

When placing an order with Feel Unique a couple weeks back, I thought I'd check out the hand creams Figs & Rouge have to offer, seeing as I love their lip balms. I ended up choosing the 80ml tube of Cherry Blossom (£6.95) and 20ml tube of Mango & Mandarin (£3.95, but I bought it when it was on offer for £2.47).

First of all, look at that packaging. I absolutely love it! The scents are beautiful, too. Cherry Blossom is sweet, but not in a sickly way. It reminds me of something I can't put my finger on, but I know it's something I love. Mango & Mandarin has that same sweet base, but is fruity as well. I can't fault the formula, either. It's not at all greasy, but leaves my hands feeling soft and moisturised.

Although they're more expensive than your standard tube of hand cream, they're definitely worth it. I don't know if I'd pay the full price of the Mango & Mandarin one because it's only small, but I'm happy with what I did pay because it's becoming a staple in my handbag.

I already have the lip balm version of Cherry Blossom, but think I need the Mango & Mandarin lip butter, too!

Are you a fan of Figs & Rouge?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Not So Affordable Treats

Up until recently, I wasn't one for perfume. Anything other than a fruity body spray was too heavy and 'old' for my liking. I don't know what changed, but I now spritz myself with a fragrance every morning, and usually reapply throughout the day. 

At work the other day, I found myself trying the new Daisy Dream and instantly liking it. Then, after comparing prices, codes, and cash back on multiple sites, I decided to purchase the 100ml bottle from Boots. It came with a free makeup bag and 4ml bottle, and there was a 10% off code, 10 points per pound promotion, and good cash back deal. The makeup bag is made of a rough cotton material I wouldn't associate with the fragrance, but it was free, so I don't mind too much. I do, however, love the miniature bottle; it's so cute!

Just as I was about to place my order, I learned that the limited edition Daisy Delights were in the current fragrance sale. I'd had my eye on them for months, so thought I may as well order one then. I ended up choosing the Eau So Fresh edition, which was £34.66 down from £52, but was also tempted by the original Daisy Delight (£29.66 down from £44.50). Daisy Eau So Fresh Delight is very light, fruity, and sweet. Not for everyone, but I love it. I would try and describe Daisy Dream, but I know I'd fail miserably because I can't pin point any aspect of the scent. I just know I like it.

And if two perfumes in a week wasn't enough, I've just ordered Nina Ricci Nina 80ml from allbeauty.com for £31.80 down from £54. I have the L'Eau edition, which I love, and tried this one yesterday to find that it's another winner.

I'm an all or nothing kind of person, and once I start to like something, I want to acquire every variety there is. I'm going to try and refrain from buying any more perfume, though. For now, at least.

Have you treated yourself to any perfume recently?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

What's In My Travel Makeup Bag?

After five years, I thought it was about time I did one of these 'what's in my...' posts. My travel makeup bag doesn't exclusively contain makeup, like the name suggests, but my travel essentials.

I'll start with the beauty products because they're more exciting. I rarely touch up my makeup during the day, but carry a couple products with me just in case. I have the Revlon ColourStay Concealer in Fair, which has a medium coverage and satin finish. It could be a little heavier for blemishes, but is great for everywhere else.

I then carry around the lip product I'm wearing that day, for when I want to reapply. Revlon's ColourBurst Lip Butter in Wild Watermelon just happens to be in there at the moment. It's a sheer, balmy, juicy, summer red, and I love it. I don't like reapplying some lip products, though, because they look best applied to freshly exfoliated, moisturised lips. In this case, I'll just wipe away any product left and apply a tinted balm like the Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Pink Blossom.

For fragrance, I currently have the Pacifica Indian Coconut Nectar Rollerball Perfume in my bag. It's great for travelling, and smells beautiful.

Since starting my job, I've been using more hand sanitiser than ever before. I finished Bath & Body Works' Market Peach one last week, and am now onto their Sweet Pea scent, which is a light, sweet, delicate floral. These are more expensive than your standard bottle, especially in the UK, so I won't be buying them all the time, but they're nice to use while I have them. My hands and cuticles have also taken a battering since working, so I bought the Figs & Rouge Mango and Mandarin Hand Cream last week to use throughout the day. It's the perfect size for travelling, looks cute, smells amazing, isn't greasy, and leaves my hands feeling moisturised.

The other items in my travel makeup bag include pain and sickness relief tablets, tissues, plasters, mints, a flossing harp (for those lunch leftovers. What? I'm keeping it real!), hair accessories, a nail file, and a pen. I also carry a notebook, hairbrush, and wipes with me, but they're in my handbag because they don't fit in this one!

Oh, and the actual makeup bag is a basic one I bought from Boots the other week (RRP £5). I'm currently on the look out for something a little more pretty, though, so if you've seen any, let me know!

I'd love to know what your travel essentials are?

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