Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book Haul | Recent Reads

I've always loved reading, but until recently I never had enough time to properly commit to reading something more than a magazine. Ever since last Summer, when I started getting the train to and from my placement, I had about 45 minutes to kill on the train, so instead of playing Candy Crush or people watching, I decided to make a start on some of the books I've always wanted to read.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

"Who are you? What have we done to each other? These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?"

Out of all the books here, this one is my stand-out favourite. I wanted to read it before I watched the movie (which is also incredible) as it had amazing reviews from everyone I knew that had read it. With all the twists and turns in this story, you'll certainly not want to put it down once you start reading it.
The Night Rainbow by Claire King

"During one long, hot summer, five-year-old Pea and her little sister Margot play alone in the meadow behind their house, on the edge of a small village in Southern France. Her mother is too sad to take care of them; she left her happiness in the hospital, along with the baby. Pea's father has died in an accident and Maman, burdened by her double grief and isolated from the village by her Englishness, has retreated to a place where Pea cannot reach her - although she tries desperately to do so. Then Pea meets Claude, a man who seems to love the meadow as she does and who always has time to play. Pea believes that she and Margot have found a friend, and maybe even a new papa. But why do the villagers view Claude with suspicion? And what secret is he keeping in his strange, empty house?"

I didn't quite know what to expect whenever I started reading this and I did find that it was a little slow at the start, picks up in the middle and has an abrupt ending, however I did still enjoy it and it would be perfect if you didn't want to read anything too serious.

Paper Towns by John Green

"Quentin Jacobsen has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow. But the next day Margo doesn't come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance ... and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery - culminating in another awesome road trip across America - he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for."

Like a lot of people, I'm a big fan of John Green. I like the way he can portray a certain message at the end of each novel he rights. Out of all the John Green books I've read, so far Paper Towns is my favourite. I love how the story flows and all the little clues and messages along the way. I still need to see the movie though!

Looking For Alaska by John Green

""If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane". Miles Halter’s whole life has been one big non-event, until he meets Alaska Young. Gorgeous, clever and undoubtedly screwed-up, Alaska draws Miles into her reckless world and irrevocably steals his heart. For Miles, nothing can ever be the same again."

Another pick by John Green, Looking For Alaska is definitely one that manages to grip the audience into reading more to discover the truth.

The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer

"I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that."

I must admit, I had no idea what this book was about and bought it purely for the cover. Although, when I did begin to read it, it drew me in more and more. The only thing is that it jumps to different periods in his life, so you have to give it your full attention when you're reading it. Also, it has no definite ending, which you'll discover makes complete sense if you have read this before.

You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

"Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob - the man she's about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben - best man and the best friend any two people ever had. And that's the problem. Because if it wasn't Rob waiting for her at the altar, there's a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right? Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it..."

Not my typical kind of read as the whole straight up love story plot isn't really my thing, so I was pleasantly surprised whenever I managed to read this within a week because I enjoyed it that much. I'll definitely be giving Giovanna's other novels a read now, I love her writing style!

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

"Rosemary's young, just at college, and she's decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourselves, round about page 77, what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. There's something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. And it was this decision, made by her parents, to give Rosemary a sister like no other, that began all of Rosemary's trouble. So now she's telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it's a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice."

This was a fairly enjoyable read and I would say I liked the book, but it's quite difficult to understand what's going on at times because Rosemary's story flips back and forth.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

"Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death. Curious, she opens it - and time stops. John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others. Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most…" 

I still have to read this one, although at the time I bought this, it was the best seller on Amazon for a good few weeks, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in!

Us by David Nicholls

"Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again. The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed. What could possibly go wrong?"

Again, I haven't read this one yet, but I'm looking forward to giving it a read as well.

What do you think of my book haul and recent reads? Would you be interested in reading any of them? Or do you have any book recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!


Friday, 4 March 2016

Mother's Day Gift Guide

For the comfort loving Mum, this Marks & Spencer Luxury Hooded Shimmer Dressing Gown is the perfect option because of it's cosy fleece lining which is bound to make Sunday as snug as possible.

For the pamper loving Mum, the Dove DermaSpa Goodness3 Gift Set* which contains the DermaSpa Goodness³ Lotion, DermaSpa Goodness³ Hand Cream, DermaSpa Goodness³ Body Cream and a silky beauty sleep mask is a great choice because of the luxury, yet affordable products. Also, you can personalise the gift box, which is something that can be kept forever. I did an entire review of these products here if you want to find out more!

For the scent loving Mum, the Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede Cologne may be a tad pricey, but it's guaranteed to be worth it when you see the look on her face when she opens the box. With notes of red apple, jasmine, rose and gillyflower, this scent will be a hit with anyone.

For the make-up loving Mum, the Laura Geller Baked With Love Gift Set is incredible value for money, complete with a Baked Blush N' Brighten in Pink Grapefruit, a Baked Highlighter in French Vanilla and a Love Me Dew Lip Crayon in Watermelon Cooler. I actually bought this for my Mum last year and she loved it!

For the glamour loving Mum, the Pandora Mother's Day Love Knot Gift Set may be in the higher price range, but it's guaranteed to be something she'll treasure forever as it makes a lovely sentimental gift.

For the handbag loving Mum, the River Island Grey Mini Zip Winged Tote Handbag is what I've bought my Mum this year, as she wanted a change from black, but nothing too bright. Plus, it's big enough that she'll get all her essential bits and bobs in without the heaviness of a big bag.

For the haircare loving Mum, the Percy & Reed Unleash That Volume Ladies Styler Kit is a fantastic kit which contains mini versions of the Smoothed, Sealed & Sensational Volumising No Oil Oil For Fine Hair, Superstar Supersized Bodifying Cream, Abundantely Bouncy Volumising Mousse and No Fuss Fabulousness Dry Shampoo, all firm favourites with both my Mum and me. 

For the skincare loving Mum, the Liz Earle Handpicked Radiance Duo is a good option if you know your Mum is interested in skincare, but you just don't know what to get her. The Cleanse & Polish has been loved for generations and can be used on any skin type or age group.

For the food loving Mum, the Mary Berry Foolproof Cooking Book is the latest addition to her cookbook range, meaning there's loads of new recipes to try. You could even go one better and cook her dinner using a recipe from the book.

For the practical loving Mum, the L'Occitane Shower Gel Collection is pretty much perfect for any Mum as shower gels are always going to be used. My Mum's favourite is the almond oil scent, so after using all the mini versions, she bought the full size of the almond oil shower gel.

What do you think of my Mother's Day Gift Guide? What do you usually get your Mum for Mother's Day? Let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

2015 Make-Up Favourites/Staples

One thing I've been putting a lot of thought into recently is what my favourite products of 2015 were. Throughout last year, I had a huge make-up clear out and organisation, which made it more visible to me what my standout make-up staples have become. 
I also achieved a spending ban on make-up, which made it more exciting when I did get new make-up for Christmas and buy new make-up during my Trip To Edinburgh
Doing both of these things has made me release that I don't always have to rush to Boots or Superdrug for the latest mascara or lipstick launch, but to properly research key make-up pieces and invest in pieces that will serve me well. 

I got the Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette for one of my birthday presents in October and I used it pretty much every day for the rest of the year. In fact, it's still currently the palette I"m reaching for the most. I just love how soft and pigmented Urban Decay eyeshadows are, they apply like a dream and are so easy to blend. My favourite and most used shades from the palette are High, Dirtysweet, Radar, Whiskey and Combust.

I picked up MAC Lipstick - Please Me during a Trip To Dublin and out of all the MAC lipsticks I own, this one is still my absolute favourite. It's a pinky nude shade, which is the perfect for my porcelain skin because it's not too pale so it doesn't wash me out. The matte but creamy formula allows the lipstick to glide onto my lips with ease, yet it also has incredible staying power with and without a lipliner and doesn't dry out my lips or cling to any dry patches.

Despite mixed reviews from a lot of people, the Benefit Roller Lash Mascara was actually a very big hit with me, I love it! It knows how to how a long-lash, fluttery curl, so much so that whenever I use it, it nearly touches the bottom of my eyebrows. The super black, long lasting formula also means that it doesn't flake or smudge all day, so it's perfect to go from day to night.

The L'Oreal Infallible Primer has been the only primer I've reached for since I started using it, so I've gone through roughly 3 tubes of this, which is testament enough. It reminds me a lot of a clear version of the Benefit Porefessional Primer, which is just a bit too heavy for my sensitive skin. I can apply this at 7 o'clock in the morning and my make-up is still in place when I come home at six o'clock. 

One thing that everyone seemed to agree on during 2015 was how great the L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation - Porcelain is. Again, I've gone through around 2 or three tubes of this, as it gives the most flawless full coverage base without being too heavy. It's my go to foundation if I want to ensure my make-up looks seamless. Also, thumbs up to L'Oreal for actually making porcelain shades light enough for fair skin, I'm looking at you Bourjois!

The gorgeous NARS Dual-Intensity Blush - Fervor is another present I got for my birthday and has been placed firmly and lovingly in my make-up bag ever since. In fact, it's the first NARS product I've ever owned which makes me love it even more. The shade on the left is a shimmering soft pink and the shade on the right is a sparkling deep coppery rose. They apply and blend like a dream and can be used dry and wet, yet I tend to just use them dry as it's more subtle. 

I never tried anything from Laura Geller before until my Mum told me about the Laura Geller Baked Balance N' Brighten Foundation - Porcelain, which I tried and immediately fell in love with. I use this as my every day foundation as it applies in minutes and during the weekend if I'm not wearing the Infallible Matte Foundation - Porcelain. It has a surprisingly medium to high coverage for a powder foundation, yet it doesn't look cakey once it's applied, I would describe it as having a satin-matte finish. I did a full review here if you want more details.

What do you think of my 2015 make-up favourites/staples? Did you have any favourites from 2015? Or are you using anything now that you think will become a staple in your make-up bag? Let me know in the comments!