Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August Books

Here's what I've been reading in August:

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas* - Twenty years ago 21 year old Sophie Collier vanishes leaving behind a sole trainer at the old pier and her best friend Francesca heartbroken. 

A body has just been found and Frankie returns to Oldcliffe-on-Sea. She'd moved on and has a successful career believing she'd never be back. 

Daniel, Sophie's brother arranges a flat for her to stay in and it's here that she starts to receive anonymous letters, hear a baby cry and even stranger still sees Sophie..

A fast paced read with a twist I didn't see coming. Would recommend.

The Butterfly Storm by Kate Frost - Sophie Keech moves to Greece to be with holiday fling Alekos. Her mum thinks she's making a mistake and their relationship becomes strained. Four years on she now engaged and and her overbearing Greek mother-in-law to be gets on her nerves at times and she finds life is not as idyllic as when she and Alekos first met.

When her mum is involved in an accident she returns to the UK where she evaluates her life and all she holds dear. A great read.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena* - Anne and Marco Conti are invited to their neighbour's house for dinner but are asked to leave their baby at home!

They take the baby monitor with them and check on Cora every half hour. When the party breaks up and they arrive home they find that the baby has been taken.

What follows is a fast paced, edge of your seat thriller which in turn involves the neighbours, the babysitter and Anne's parent. Strangely the kidnapper is revealed half way through but it takes longer to tie all the pieces together. A great read with lots of twists and turns.

Blast Radius by R L McKinney - the story follows Sean McNicol, who has returned from Afghanistan with PTSD. He believes he can hear his dead friend Mitch who saved his life talking to him, whether it's offering advice or criticizing what he does.

He's back home living with his sister and on the dole until he gets a job moving furniture at a second-hand shop. He enjoys the work but finds his colleagues a bunch of misfits and people he wouldn't normally hang about with.  A former school friend asks him to clear her late father's house and it's here he begins the process of healing and moving on. A brilliant debut novel. Highly recommend.

Let me Tell you about a Man I know by Susan Fletcher* - the story is set in Provence in 1889 at the hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole, home to the mentally ill.

A new patient piques the Warden's wife's interest and she is drawn to Vincent. She knows he's a talented artist, quite wild and has unusual copper-red hair. Jeanne has been forbidden by her husband to speak with the patients but she can't help but seek him out.

Jeanne's lonely as her sons now live in Paris and her friend Laure has gone away. She's nostalgic about her childhood, her boys, her marriage and her needs as a woman.  An absolutely stunning but gentle novel about longing, loneliness, passion and love and how they all alter over time. Loved it.

The Fire Child by S K Tremayne - Rachel has a whirlwind romance with the handsome and charming widower David. They marry and she moves to the family home Carnhallow House in rural Cornwall. Her stepson Jamie starts to make scary predictions like "you'll be dead by Christmas" and claims to be able to see his dead mother.  A creepy and atmospheric read with many twists and turns. Her new husband is not all he seems and it has a twist I didn't see coming. An edge of the seat read!

Rat Stone Serenade (A DCI Daley Thriller #4) by Denzil Meyrick - the story opens with Jim contemplating retirement (as if!) and the discovery of a child's skeleton at the Rat Stone which has links to druids. The first thought is that it could be Archie Shannon, who disappeared as a child. The Shannons were cursed over a century ago after Archibald Shannon stole land which didn't belong to him and his descendants were cursed.

Another two bodies are discovered and the police are called in to protect the wealthy Shannon family who are at the mansion for their annual AGM. Snow has left Kinloch completely unreachable. DI Scott is off the booze and has been hallucinating. He's also quite stressed and plagued with anxiety and not really himself. DCI Daley has rekindled his romance with Mary Dunn and has a new boss, fearless Mary Symington.  A really great read and one of my favourites in the series. I just couldn't put it down. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger - roll on the next one!

A Fine House in Trinity by Lesley Kelly - Joseph Staines (or Stainsie) is a loveable rogue who has arrived back in Edinburgh after finding out he's the sole beneficiary of his friend Lachie's estate. He'd left six weeks ago with the tallybook of late Debt Collector and Lachie's mum, Isa Stoddart. Old school pal DS Jamieson has been tipped off that Stainsie is somehow involved in her death. 

Stainsie is determined to find out what happened to Lachie despite being warned off. The story is set in Trinity and Leith with brilliant characters like his drinking buddy Wheezy and his on/off girlfriend Marianne.  It's a fantastic debut novel which made me chuckle at times and I loved that it was set in a City I know so well.

Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister - this has been on hubby's kindle like for an age! I had a book on mine he wanted to read so we swapped and I'm so glad I did as this is a brilliant read.

It follows the life of twins Isis and Osiris who lived at Little Egypt with their parents Evelyn and Arthur who were obsessive Egyptologists and think nothing of upping sticks and leaving their children in the care of Mary, the housekeeper.

The twins now in their 90s have lived all their lives at Little Egypt apart from a trip to Egypt with their Uncle to see their parents. The land surrounding the mansion has been sold to pay for them to be able to live their lives at home while guarding a secret. Beside them is a dual carriage way, a superstore and a railway station which is a quite unusual way to live. It's a quirky read with characters who drew me in to their unusual lives. 

What have you been reading this month?

*copies from Netgalley

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Shopping My Stash #80

Here's what I've been reaching for this week:

Avalon Organics Clarifying Shampoo 325ml - this is probably the best clarifying shampoo I've ever used. It's great for getting rid of product build up and refreshing the hair. See my review HERE. I spotted the range for sale when last in Waitrose.

4160Tuesdays London 1969 - this is my second bottle of this lush scent. See my thoughts on it HERE.

Plant ØÅ Face Oil 30ml* - simply love this balancing oil. See my review HERE.

Evolve Beauty Lip Treat sample - this lip balm came in Evolve's sample pack. It's really lovely and I'll buy full size when it's finished. It deeply nourishes the lips and has a mouthwatering orange scent.

John Masters Organics Sea Mist - I'm absolutely obsessed with this product just now and used it every single day on holiday. Just recently picked up the full size. It's one of my favourite products this summer.

I came across Bramley Products on holiday and their Body Lotion with Juniper berry and Bergamot smells fantastic. It detoxifies and moisturises the skin.

I've fallen in love with every Gallinée product I've tried! Their La Culture Hand Cream* is just amazing - see my review HERE

What have you been reaching for this week?

*PR samples

Monday, 29 August 2016

Avril Organic Cosmetics

I've been testing out a few products from Avril, an affordable organic range from France which was launched in April 2012.

Their mission is to make organic products available to all. Their four main values are - quality, ecology, price and service.

Make up products are highly pigmented and long lasting and fragrances fresh and delicate. There is minimal packaging and it's all recyclable. The range is certified by ECOCERT.

Here's what I was I sent:

Provence Rose Soap 100g (euro 2.80 approx £2.39)* -  a delicately scented rose soap which lathers well and leaves the skin feeling clean and refreshed.

2 x Lipstick Pencils in shades Rouge Franc and Corail (each euro 4 approx £3.42)* - these are absolutely fantastic. The shades are gorgeous and very long lasting.

Hair Mask with Mango 150ml (euro 7 approx £6)* - with a mango/herbal scent the mask deeply nourishes and cares for damaged hair, softening and restoring.

My final pick was Avril's Cleansing Gel 100ml (euro 5 approx £4.27)* - which gently cleanses and removes impurities leaving the face feeling clean and fresh and with no tightness. 

I've been really impressed with the quality and effectiveness of all the products I tried. You can pick yours up HERE.

*PR samples

Saturday, 27 August 2016

August Empties

I think this is the smallest amount yet! I threw out some things I used over summer holidays instead of bringing the empty pots/sachets back.

Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Wash 40ml - a beautiful rose scented body wash. I have a few in my stash but would buy full size.

Kiss the Moon Love After Dark Bath Oil 5ml - a lush and heady scented bath oil (Rose, Palmarosa, Ylang Ylang and Frankincense). I definitely want the full size of this! See my review HERE.

bodhi & birch Botanical Dew Hand & Body Wash 200ml - this was lovely to use. See my review HERE. Will buy again.

MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion 100ml - I was really sad to finish this invigorating and de-stressing bath oil. See my review HERE. Another one will be mine when I finish up some other bath products. Loved it.

Aromatherapy Associates Light Relax Bath & Shower Oil 9ml - nice to use. Huge fan of these. Sure to pick up again.

REN Neroli & Grapefruit Body Wash 50ml - there were REN toiletries in Hotel du Vin in Birmingham. This was nice and refreshing on a hot day and after travelling. Would maybe pick up again.

L'Occitane Mer & Mistral Shower Gel 50ml - loved this sea inspired scented shower gel which was very refreshing. Would buy again.

Mio Clean Slate Workout Swipe for Face & Body - a single use large wipe which is great after exercise or travelling. Would buy again.

PG Gardenia Grand Soir EdP sample - which came in my October 2015 Bloom Perfumery sample pack. Loved this and full size is on the wishlist.

Dr Organic Rose Otto Deodorant - I prefer the Pomegranate one so wouldn't pick this up again.

Lucy's Lotions Vitamin E & Grapefruit Body Butter 150ml - this was pleasant to use but was more a cream than a butter. See my review HERE. I wouldn't buy this particular product again but love the lip balm in the range.

Madara Moon Flower Rose Beige Tinting Fluid 50ml - I love using this at weekends or light make up days. It gives the skin a glow with light coverage. Just cracked open a new one.

UrbanVeda Rose+Botanics Reviving Exfoliating Facial Polish 20ml - really nice to use with a gentle scrub. Would buy full size.

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer 20ml - this just works. Already opened a new tube.

Therapi Orange Blossom Honey Moisturiser 15ml - this is lovely to use and smells divine. Would buy.

John Masters Organics Lavender & Rosemary Shampoo 30ml - I buy this again and again as my hair loves it. 

Chantecaillie La Creme Riche Anti-Age+ BioLifting Cream+ 10ml - a delicious and truly luxurious cream. Full size is extortionate so won't be buying anytime soon unfortunately!

Skin & Tonic Steam Clean 15ml - this is a staple product for me. I used this one on holiday and finished it up when I got home. Already using another.

Olivine Love+Roses Beauty Mist 8oz - this mist can be used all over the body and hair to refresh. See my review HERE. I'd definitely buy again.

What have you been using up this month?

Friday, 26 August 2016

Bloom Perfumery: Yearly Sample Pack: August 2016: Jasmine

My Bloom Perfumery August sample pack landed yesterday. This month the theme is Jasmine.

"A flower with several different scent facets, the jasmine can smell green and airy or it can feel heavier, more narcotic, indolic and animal. It's a material that's regarded as an essential component in modern perfumery, even though natural floral extracts are so rare and scarce nowadays that some cost more than the price of gold".

The first one I tried is Nishane's Hundred Silent Ways (50ml Extrait de Parfum - £120, 1ml - £5) which is a floral gourmand and simply stunning. It has top notes of Mandarin, Peach and Tuberose, a heart of Gardenia, Iris butter and Jasmine and a base of Sandalwood, Vanilla and Vetivert.

Just Landed: Phaedon's Sable & Soleil EdP (100ml - £95, 1.6ml - £2) is "an ode to a tropical Eden resplendent with sandy beaches, exotic flowers and crystal clear shimmering azure waters" (got me sold already!) With top notes of Lemon, a heart of Coconut milk, Geranium and Jasmine with a base of Sandalwood, Vanilla, Tonka beans and White Musk.

Jazmin Sarai's How you Love EdP (50ml - £72, 1.6ml - £2) which is inspired my Sade's "It's only love that gets you through" and has notes of Cardamon Absoute, Grapefruit, Jasmine Absolute, Rose oil, Beeswax Absolute, Sandalwood and Musk.

PG's Drama Nuui EdP (100ml - £117.50, 1.6ml - £2) is very floral with rich heady hues. With notes of French Jasmine, Gaiac wood, Musk, Petigrain, Sandalwood and spices.

Next up is Just Landed: Brocard's Modern Classic EdP which is very, very reasonably priced (100ml - £21, 1.6ml - 80p) which has notes of Pear, Praline, Blackcurrant, White Musk, Orange Blossom and Vanilla.

Finally, Grossmith's Shem-El-Nessim EdP (50ml - £170, 1.6ml - £5). This one is just not to my taste as I find it too heavy and a bit powdery for my liking. It has top notes of Bergamot and Neroli, a heart of Geranium, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang and Orris with base notes of Musk, Cedarwood, Heliotrope and Vanilla.

What's your favourite Jasmine scent?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

August: Lately I've Been Loving

So many, many August loves..

Look out for a fuller Summer Holiday (food) post shortly - you can see an edited version HERE. I had a great time!

I had to pick up a few souvenirs of course (this little wooden house ornament was only £12.95!) Love it! As well as some tea, some Cornish Pastis and some candles..

When I came back from holidays I bought the fabulous Vetiver Insolent by Miller Harris which is just gorgeous. Expect a full review soon.

Meeting Denzil Meyrick at the Book Festival and catching up with Judith (who I'd not seen since school!) was fun. Great to get a signed copy and shake hands with the man himself! You can buy the books from Amazon.

Stopping by the Urban Reivers pop-up shop in George Street and picking up the scent created by founder and author, Sara Sheridan and Sarah from at 4160Tuesdays called Damn Rebel Bitches (like I needed more perfume but I couldn't resist!) It's a stunning blend with Blood Oranges, Hazelnut, Pink Peppercorn, Clary Sage and Malt. Packaging is also exquisite - the bottle comes in a linen bag in a beautiful branded box.  Pick yours up at the shop until the end of August or online - you won't regret it!

What have you been loving in August?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Madara Time Miracle Cellular Nutrients Toning Mist & Sibberi Birch Water

I've been testing out the fab Madara Cellular Nutrients Toning Mist (£20 - 100ml)*. The mist contains Madara's cell repair bio-complex along with northern Birch hydrolate and hyaluronic molecules.  Aloe Vera moisturises, rebalances and rejuvenates the skin while Red Clover extract firms. Sea Buckthorn extract is a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin E and provitamin A which regenerates and acts as a natural UV filter while Horse Chestnut helps improve collagen synthesis.

The mist protects, hydrates, refreshes and tones the skin and can help to improve the skin's structure and collagen synthesis.

To use: mist onto the face AM/PM after cleansing and throughout the day when needed. 

I was also sent a bottle of Sibberi Birch Water* which is refreshing but has quite an acquired taste (although it's a lot nicer than other Birch Water I've tried!) and a little sample pack containing 1.5ml sachets of the other products in the range - Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream, Cellular Repair Serum, Ultimate Facelift Cream, Total Renewal Night Cream and Age Defence Day Cream (I'll let you know my thoughts on these soon).

What's your favourite Madara product?

*PR sample

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Holiday Buys: Candles

I adore scented candles and the ones from St Eval's are beautiful. I'm a huge fan of their Sea Salt Candle tins. See my review HERE.

I picked up a Sea Salt Candle from the Constantine Collection which comes in this cute little white pot and has a burn time of 30 hours. The second one from St Eval's is their Vintage Rose scented candle which is a heady mix of powdery roses and peonies. This has a burn time of up to 20 hours.

My final pick is Sapooni's Cornish Hedgerows which has a 20 hours burn time. This is scented with wild grasses, hedgerow flowers, brambles, heather and honeysuckle with a hint of hawthorn. It also has a sprinkle of glitter on top.

Did you buy any candles on your holidays?

Monday, 22 August 2016

Ogario London: Hydrate & Shine Shampoo & Conditioner

I recently reviewed Ogario London's Restore & Shine Hair Masque* which is absolutely gorgeous. See my review HERE. I'm currently enjoying their Hydrate & Shine Duo (£35 - 2 x 250ml)*.

Both the shampoo and conditioner are suitable for dry and colour treated hair. The award winning shampoo is formulated with Honey and Moringa Seed and leaves the hair feeling clean and hydrated. As it's fairly concentrated I've found it best to add a little water and lather it in my palm before massaging onto my hair.

The conditioner (which smells fantastic) is formulated with Tamarind and Marshmallow and it deeply nourishes leaving the hair feeling soft and looking smooth and healthy.  Apply to the hair, concentrating on the ends before rinsing.

Pick yours up HERE.

*PR samples

Monday, 15 August 2016

Living Naturally: Coconut Milk & Chai Bathtub Tea

Lynda at Wonderlusting gave me this lush and truly mouthwatering bath product from Living Naturally in our recent Green Beauty Swap. See what she gave me HERE.  It really smells good enough to eat (or should that be drink?!) and is an indulgent treat.

I'm already a huge fan of the brand. See my recent reviews HERE and HERE. This delicious bath blend is made with organic soapnuts, Vegan coconut powder, organic ginger, cardamon, cloves and cinnamon. There are also whole star anise throughout the blend which is a nice touch.

After an aromatic soak the skin is left soft and hydrated. It's also great for soothing sunburnt skin, relieving tension and if you have a cold or flu.

To use: Add 2 tbs to a warm bath. There is enough in the tub for around 5 baths.

Have you used this before? What's your favourite product from the range?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Feel Unique: Pick 'n' Mix: August 2016

My August selection arrived from Feel Unique yesterday. See what I chose last month here. You can choose yours here paying £3.95 to cover P&P - you get this back via a code sent by email to spend on your next purchase.

Kadalys Musalis First Wrinkles Day Cream with Green Banana 5ml - which is suitable for all skin types and addresses first signs of wrinkles. It will plump up the skin and hydrate. 

Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm 5g - I've used this cleansing balm before and loved it. I'll be taking this one on my travels.

Omorovicza Rejuvenating Night Cream 5ml - huge fan of the brand and this is a luxe trial size. (I just checked the Feel Unique website and a full size cream costs £110!) The cream nourishes and strengthens the skin while you sleep.

CULT51 Immediate Effects Serum 3ml - a super serum "which works in conjunction with your own skin cells; stimulating collagen, elastin and cellular regeneration". It targets fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and skin imperfections. Use it around the eyes and on expression lines.

By Terry Liftessence Eye Contour 2g - I've not tried much by the brand and am always looking for the perfect eye product. It will help reduce puffiness and dark circles, firming and tightening the eye area.

What samples did you pick?

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Shopping My Stash #79

Having loved all the products I took on holiday it was nice to come home to a change!

I've been testing out a few products from Skincere*. The Eye Serum* (currently £11.24 for 15ml) is super gentle and absorbs instantly. It helps brighten the delicate eye area and helps smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. The products are Fragrance Free, Dermatologically Tested, Hypoallergenic and free from Parabens and SLS.

I picked up this Balance Me Super Toning Body Polish as a magazine freebie this month. It's really lovely to use with just the right amount of "scrub". It's worth grabbing if you can as the 50ml size is worth a tenner.

I'm a huge fan of Antipodes and their Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream is just a delight. It deeply nourishes the skin leaving it feeling comfortable and moisturised. I mentioned it here.

Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée 30ml an impulse buy which I just love. See my review here.

Finally, two Living Proof "full" mini Shampoo & Conditioner which are fantastic. I'll definitely buy full size. As well as smelling gorgeous the products transform fine flyaway hair giving it body and volume.

What have you been reaching for this week?


Friday, 12 August 2016

Lotus Wei: Truth Teller Flower Powered Lip Balm

I recently purchased Lotus Wei's Truth Teller Flower Powered Lip Balm (£7 - 5g) from Naturisimo. It came packaged in an organza bag and had the information card above enclosed. 

This is only the second product I've tried from the brand. The first one was their Infinite Love Mist (mini review). I definitely want to explore this brand more.

This lip balm is infused with flower remedies which help you speak your truth and also contains rose oil and a herbal colorant to give your lips a little tint. 

Trumpet Vine Flower is good for fearlessness and helps you feel at ease (public speaking anyone?), Californian Glory Flower gives you a bigger voice and more confidence to be yourself while Grevillea helps you to say what needs to be said without hurting anyone's feelings and speaking freely.

I've found I can detect a rose scent when I need a bit more confidence but don't notice it when I don't! 

The balm deeply nourishes and cares for the lips and I'll definitely buy again! Have you tried it? What's your favourite Lotus Wei product?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

001 Skincare: Pure Lavender Hydrolat Toner

I've been loving using Award Winning 001 Skincare's Pure Lavender Hydrolat Toner (100ml - £33)*. It featured in my holiday must-haves (here). It balances, tones, refines pores and acts as a pick-me-up throughout hot summer afternoons instantly cooling and refreshing the skin.

Made with 99% pure hydrolat from high grade distilled Lavender which is anti-inflammatory and astringent the toner can be used to cleanse, tone, as a hydrating spritz, as a mask and to set make up. The skin is left feeling comforted, soothed and plumped.

001 Skincare recently won Gold Award for their Rosa Damascena Essence Mist at the FreeFrom Skincare Awards and to celebrate their win they are offering my readers 20% off the entire line until the end of the month. 

Use code freefrom20


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Kiss the Moon

I first tried Kiss the Moon when I purchased a sample from Naturisimo (Glow After Dark Face Oil 3ml) and totally fell in love with the product and brand. The products are formulated to help you have a beautiful and restful night's sleep and are hand crafted in England.

The packaging is exquisite and would make a gorgeous and indulgent gift. I selected Mini Moment of Glow After Dark Face Oil (5ml) and Love Sleep Recovery Set.

Glow Blend brightens and uplifts and smells truly delicious. With Orange, Geranium, Myrrh and Litsea the oil absorbs instantly leaving the skin feeling nourished and looking radiant.

My other purchase contains face oil and bath oils in the Love Blend which is a romantic and seductive mix of Rose, Frankincense, Palmarosa and Ylang Ylang. Inside the velvet pouch are 3 x 5ml Love After Dark Bath Oils and 1 x 5ml Love after Dark Face Oil along with a luxury eye mask. 

I've been really impressed with the quality and effectiveness of the products. They are gorgeous to use as well as well as being perfect for unwinding before bed.

You can take the "matchmaker" test to find out which blend best suits your needs. See HERE. Have you used any products from Kiss the Moon?

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Summer Holidays: Beauty

I ended up taking way too many beauty products with me on holiday (I'll learn though for next year!) I felt especially overloaded after seeing Lynda's holiday picks.


I used the Madara Micellar Water up (it's one of my favourites - see my review HERE) and some of the smaller sizes (which I just threw in the bin rather than bringing them back for an empties post).

Here's the ones I reached for again and again..

Expect reviews of PHB Ethical Beauty's Brightening Eye Gel and 001 Skincare's fabulous Pure Lavender Hydrolat Toner* soon. I loved using both these products on holiday.

Also there is my favourite Skin & Tonic Steam Clean and 001's Exfoliating & Conditioning Cleanser* (review) along with Dahliana's amazing Wildflower Youth Serum* (review).


I was testing out these two products by Nourish* & Frezyderm* over my holidays so expect reviews shortly.

I also took these along..

I used up a few items and acquired some lovely Bramley products at The Pig

My most reached for items were..

Therapie's Himalayan Detox Salts (these are finished but the pot is handy for travel) and my favourite Marble & Milkweed Nourishing Body Oil (review). The little Bloomtown Botanicals sample soaps* were perfect for travel and the Bramley body lotion is lovely. Expect reviews soon.


You know the drill by now..(I took far too much of everything!)

I used up all the sachet samples and my most reached for items were..

Bramley's Shampoo & Conditioner, Swell's Ultimate Protect & Renew Serum*(which came in the recent Naturisimo Hello Gorgeous Hair Discovery Box) and John Masters Organics Sea Mist which I used most days for beachy waves.


And the ones I reached for..(the Eden Portofino one was already in my handbag)

Jo Loves Pomelo (review), 4160Tuesdays London 1969 (mini review), Miller Harris Vetiver Insolent (a new favourite), Creed Virgin Island Water (the perfect summer scent) and Eden Perfumes Portofino which has notes like the Tom Ford version.

Make up:

I did a bit better with make up although I did take a selection of lipsticks and glosses. These were my favourite bits:

Are you able to pack light for holidays?

*PR samples