Thursday, 30 November 2017

November Books

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

Seeking Eden by Beverley Harvey - Musician Ben Wilde wishes he could win back his ex-girlfriend Kate who he so cruelly dumped years before. Ben's about to hit the big time again or so say says his record producer.

Kate is married now and has moved out of London to Eden Hill, a housing estate in the suburbs. She's works from home and is lonely. Her husband Neil works in London where he stays most of the week and when he's back at the weekend they don't really talk. One afternoon she and Ben get carried away on the spur of the moment and will Kate live to regret it...?

She meets fellow dog owner Lisa who has her own problems including an ex-footballer husband who killed himself. Martin, the Local flooring salesman who is going through a midlife crisis has the hots for Lisa. She's not keen nor is Martin's wife.  Kate is furious when Lisa and her ex Ben get together and get loved up very quickly.

The story has many twists and turns, secrets which can't remain secrets and characters who I grew to love. Highly recommend.

The Girl I used to know by Faith Hogan* - I'm taking part in the blog tour for this wonderful book so I'll share my review in my December roundup.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald** - I took part in the blog tour for this book a few days ago. See my review HERE.

Care to Die by Tana Collins** (Inspector Jim Carruthers #2) - this is the second book in the series and is fabulous. 

Jim is struggling with his demotion to DI and worried about his DS Andrea Fletcher who is going through a lot in her personal life. But they have to forget about their own demons and throw themselves into a puzzling case.

The body of an old man is discovered stabbed to death at a nature reserve. A ball of cloth has been rammed into the back of his throat..after death. The team investigate and find the only suspect is a teenage boy who has an alibi. When a second body is found at the same place with the same MO Carruthers wonders if there is a serial killer at large....

Fast paced and a great read. Looking forward to book 3 already.

The House of Christmas Secrets by Lynda Stacey* - which is published on 5th December. I promised Lynda I'd write a review on publication day. It's a fantastic Christmas read which I highly recommend.

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda* -  oh wow this book had me gripped from the very first page. Paul Strom likes to be in control of his life, his wife and his family. From the very first page I hated him! It's an absolute rollercoaster of a read which had me at the edge of my seat.

His wife Mia has been with him ever since he spotted her at work all these years ago. He's the breadwinner and she's the perfect wife and stay at home mother. He decides they deserve a romantic weekend at the lake house just the two of them which will be the best day ever. When things seem to not be going to plan Paul gets upset. He's determined this weekend will play out the way he wants it whatever the cost...A great read which I recommend.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox* - Having adored Hades and Eden I was excited to read a new book by Candice Fox.

Ted Conkaffey finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time which changes his life forever. He passes the time of day with 13 year old Claire Bingley and six minutes later his life is in tatters. Detective Conkaffey is accused but not convicted of Claire's abduction and rape and his life as he knew it falls apart - his wife doesn't believe him and takes his daughter Lillian away from him.

He spends several months in prison before being released on insufficient evidence and escapes north to Crimson Lake to start again. He meets up with convicted murderer, Amanda Pharrell who has set up her own Private Investigations agency and needs a partner. They set out to find out the whereabouts of author and star, Jake Scully.

Meanwhile two heavy handed and mean cops are determined to pin something on Ted no matter what which in turn leads Ted to investigate the murder his partner Amanda was accused of all these years ago. She's also secretly investigating his supposed crime..

A great read which I highly recommend. Roll on book 2.

Last month I read It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell* which is out early December. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend. It's a witty book full of laugh out loud moments. 

Daisy sends a sexy tweet about her tinder date from her work's twitter account and is instantly fired. Her sister Rosie decides she needs a digital detox and takes her to a rundown farmhouse in Cumbria. Initially, she's lost without her phone but throws herself quite willingly into helping her sister do up the farmhouse with the help of the gorgeous French exchange student Alexis.

Jack, her neighbour next door is her knight in shining armour as he keeps on rescuing her. Their friendship evolves around writing letters to each other and dropping them in the mailboxes.  She even finds she's really taking to country living, has found herself and really wonders if she can really head back to London and her life there. A brilliant read.

*copy from netgalley
**copy from author

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

November Empties

Here's what I've been using up this month:

Soaper Duper Shea Butter Body Wash 100ml - this delicious wash smelled of creamy vanilla ice cream! Totally lush! I want to try more from the brand which you can buy at Tesco. It's free from parabens and SLS (they have a Green Tuberose scent I can't wait to try).

Bodhi & Birch Siam Ginger Bath & Shower Therapy 50ml & Ylang Ylang Inscensa Bath & Shower Therapy 50ml - love both of these. Sure to buy again when my stash reduces a bit.

Marble & Milkweed Nourishing Body Oil - oh how I love this beautiful body oil scented with rose otto, sandalwood and cardamon. It really is perfection. See my mini review HERE. Alas, a beautiful world no longer stock this brand so I think I'd have to buy direct from the US.

Lola's Apothecary Breath of Clarity Bath & Shower Oil 10ml - which came in the cute try me set which I blogged about HERE. I loved this invigorating treat which I'll buy full size when my stash reduces a bit.

Beatitude Patience Bath Oil 10ml* - really lovely to revisit - pick up the beautiful Beatitude Christmas Crackers up - they each contain a 10ml bath oil making them the perfect treat or small present.

Glasgow Soap Co Meditation Epsom Bath Salts with Blue Cornflower Petals 180g - I absolutely loved these salts and the quirky brand. See my review HERE. I'm sure to pick these up again at some point.

The Seaweed Bath Company Eucalyptus & Peppermint Shampoo & Conditioner sachets** - I received these in November's Love Lula Beauty Box*. I wasn't so keen on the shampoo but loved the conditioner.

Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Cream 2ml sachet - this seemed a nice enough cream but I wasn't keen on the scent so wouldn't buy. 

Pureology Hydrate Shampoo 250ml - I always seem to use up shampoo way before conditioner. I love this nourishing shampoo which I'll definitely buy again.

Molton Brown Frankincense & Allspice Hand Wash 300ml - I buy enough of this in the sales to last all year. I've just cracked open my last one! Absolutely adore this wash! See my review HERE.

Natalie Bond Rose & Patchouli Bath Salts 60ml - these were lovely to use and I'd maybe buy when my stash reduces.

Therapie Himalyan Detox Salts 100g - these are a staple for me. Need to pick up some more soon!

Clark's Botanicals Soothing Marine Cream mini - this seemed quite nice but full size is expensive so it's probably not a buy again for me.

Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream 60ml - I had a quarter left in the jar when I realised it had gone off (I hate throwing products away and I had loved this one). Would buy again for sure. See my mini review HERE.

Ishgha Anti-oxidant Marine Face Cream 50ml* - I absolutely loved this cream. See my review HERE. I'd buy once my stash reduces a bit.

What have you been using up this month?

**in the Love Lula Beauty Box which is sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program

November: Lately I've been Loving

I'm a huge fan of Suki Tea and was delighted to find my favourite Peppermint at Earthy Portobello. I think this is the best peppermint tea ever made so I'm delighted to find it available locally!

I took part in the 7 days black n' white photos no explanation over on Facebook. This little knitted unicorn got a lot of comments I think people were worried I was swilling G&T's and Bourbon & Cokes before work..

I absolutely adore Bliss Botanicals and in particular their gorgeous Vanilla Rose Soy Wax Melts. They just feel like coming home for me. Cosy, heartwarming and they make me happy. See the shop HERE and my earlier review HERE.

New for Christmas from Beatitude is their gorgeous Limited Edition Christmas Comfort Candle* (£30 - 200g) which contains the essential oils in Comfort blend - geranium, clementine, lavender and eucalptus along with clove, cardamon and cinnamon for a festive treat. The blend is really beautiful and the candle has a good throw. Expect a fuller review shortly.

Every Tropic Skincare product I try I love. This Whipped Body Velvet (£28 - 200ml)** is just a delight. My dry winter skin is loving it. It melts instantly on contact with warm skin and is formulated with Madagascan rarabe butter and baobab oil and scented with mouthwatering Tahitian and Bourbon Vanilla extracts. It's one of my favourite bodycare products this year.

Being back at Heart of Midlothian FC after a spell away when the new Main Stand was getting built was a definite highlight of November. Our seats are way up at the top with a great view of the pitch.

And of course I was delighted to receive my JOIK Advent Calendar* from Love Lula not long now until the 1st!

What have you been loving this month?

*I put £57 toward the JOIK Advent Calendar from Love Lula the rest was paid for via my points from the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program in November. My post contains an affilate links.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Vertue Beauty Box: Mindful Beauty

The Vertue Beauty Box* is new to me. It's a bi-monthly box which costs £37 for a box delivered every two months, six months pre-pay which costs £105 (3 boxes every two months) or twelve month pre-pay which costs £195 (6 boxes delivered every two months).

It is more expensive than most boxes but the value is superb. Inside November's box which is themed Mindful Beauty is:

WOW! There are 3 new to me brands nestling in there! The value of the box is a whopping £72.50!

I'm already a huge fan of MOA and reviewed their Daily Cleansing Ritual HERE. Although known to me, this is a lovely addition to the box.

From gorgeous Isla Apothecary there are two scrubs - Lemongrass & Rosemary Renew Foot Scrub (120g) and Blood Orange & Vanilla Sugar Scrub (120g). I've used both of these before. These aren't currently in my stash so I'm very happy to have them back in my life!

From new to me brand Kindred+Wild is a 50ml bottle of their Lavender & Chamomile Herb Oil which can be used on the face, body and as a bath oil (I love a muti-use product!) Review will follow.

I love beauty boxes which pop in some healthy extras:

Be. Tribe is a new brand to me. I got their Fix Up blend which contains pea protein, Acai, Acerola Cherry, Maqui, Goji berries, Baobab, Camu Camu, Beet, rodiola Rosea and Himalayan Salt. Add to your smoothie for an instant boost.

The final item and a free gift was a delicious bar of organic dark chocolate from Doisy & Dam.

I think the Vertue Beauty Box* is fantastic value, stuffed full of full sizes and a real treat. Do you already subscribe? Or are you tempted? (like me!)


Monday, 27 November 2017

Blue Coffee Box: Coffee Subscription, Discount Code & Giveaway - it's over!

I've got a fantastic giveaway in collaboration with Blue Coffee Box today for one of my UK readers. You can win your very own coffee box*!

The coffee comes packaged in a letterbox friendly box and contains 3 different coffees (chose from beans, cafetiere, dripper or espresso). You then chose what strength you'd like - Light Roast, Medium Roast, Dark Roast or Surprise me!)

On a monthly rolling basis subscriptions start as low as £7.99 but if you sign up for 3, 6 or 12 months the monthly cost reduces. See more details on the website.

Nestled inside the box you'll find your coffee with origin and tasting notes.

So what did I get in my box*?

My favourite of the trio is Finca Las Nubes which is a Bourbon varietal, Honey process, the Producer is Eduardo Moran Larin and the region Buenos Aires, Santa Ana. The roasters are Campbell & Syme. The coffee is full flavoured with fig, red grape and toffee notes.

Eq Espressio Version 11 is various varietal, the process is washed, natural, the producer various and the region various. The roasters are Clifton Coffee Roasters. It has notes of grapefruit, cherry, butterscotch and raspberry.  The third, San Igacio is Bourbon typica, washed process, Producer Segundo Alejando Abad Jimenez and the region Peru and the roasters are Cast Iron Coffee Roasters. It has notes of apple, almond and chocolate.

The subscription box is a great way to try out new coffees from different countries and regions. One of my UK readers can win their very own box! Good luck!

If you are unlucky and don't win the giveaway you can still try the coffee subscription with code BE518 which will give you £5 off your first coffee order, including gifts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Blog Tour: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

Today I'm rounding up the Blog Tour for The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald*.

"The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne.

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn't know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah's world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved.

Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships as well as fans of Linda's 'Lydia' series".

My thoughts?

I instantly disliked Coll - what a selfish and self centered man! He's been in a ten year relationship with Sarah who loves him deeply. Even after all these years together she's uncertain if they have a future together. He treats her appallingly, playing mind games with her and arranges to see her when it suits him.

He approaches the owner of a new restaurant to see if they will display and sell his artwork. She turns out to be an attractive and self assured woman and Coll is drawn to her. 

Felicity threw away her marriage when she ran away with her young lover. When things didn't work out she came home hoping to slot back in at the rambling family home. What she didn't bargain for is that her husband would meet someone else..

When she finds out about Sarah she's torn but she doesn't stop seeing Coll and accepts his offers of going to the theatre and trip to London to see the Shard, a trip Sarah would have enjoyed. 

The story is told from the viewpoints of the women and I totally warmed to Sarah but not to self-centered Felicity. It's a thought provoking read with a powerful ending. Highly recommend!

*I was sent a paperback copy of the book from the author in exchange for my review.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Stella Says: Rosewood & Geranium Hand Rescue Balm+Lavender & Chamomile Lip Rescue Balm

I first came across StellaSays at the fantastic Maltby Street Market, which is on every Saturday and Sunday - and well worth the trip if you are in London! When we visited a couple of years back I picked up one of Stella's soaps (see here). This time I'd earmarked one of the glorious sounding hand balms.

I picked up Rosewood & Geranium Hand Rescue Balm (20g - £15) which is 100% natural and hand made (and lush!) The ingredients are chosen for their skin loving qualities - Organic Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Vitamin E and a little beeswax and scented with Rosewood and Geranium essential oils.

The balm is super rich, you only need the tiniest amount to deeply nourish and care for your hands (works with elbows, feet and to smooth down flyaways too).

Stella very kindly gave me one of her best-sellers Lavender & Chamomile Lip Balm Tin (£5.50)* which featured in Shopping My Stash #94.

StellaSays is currently running an online deal for 20% off until the 27th of this month with code StellaSaturday.

Have you used any products from Stella Says?


Friday, 24 November 2017

ljnatural: Superfood Neck Serum

I'm a huge fan of Lisa's lovely range having had a huge addiction to her Organic Purity Rose Body Oil (which I must revisit and soon!) - see my review HERE.

I've been testing out her Superfood Neck Serum* (£12.95 - 30g) which is a lush treat for the neck containing only six ingredients which are cell-regenerating, rich in antioxidants and help to improve elasticity and tone.

My mum always said to me take care of your neck and hands as they are the first areas to show any signs of ageing. This luxurious serum nourishes and gives the neck lots of TLC.

The serum is formulated with Meadowfoam oil which is a rejuvenating anti-oxidant which moisturises and protects the skin. Olive butter is also rich in anti-oxidants, is anti-ageing and can help improve elasticity and tone. Pomegranate oil stimulates keratinocytes, the cells found in the epidermis. Helping to regenerate these cells can help to reverse past damage and revive the skin. It also has a high anti-oxidant content and helps to fend of damaging free radicals also.

Hempseed oil has 75-80% EFA and is rich in Omega 3 oils. It contains the richest source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and deeply nourishes ageing skin. Palmarosa is a floral oil which revives and uplifts. It helps to stimulate skin cell action and regulates the production of sebum. Myrrh slows down the signs of ageing and smoothes out wrinkles and fine lines.

To use: warm a small amount in your palm before applying to the neck and decolletage.

I've been loving using it. My neck feels softer and more nourished with lines minimised. Highly recommend!

The neck serum is suitable for Vegans and is free from parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance and colours, animal ingredients, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, gluten-containing grains, dairy, sesame, soya and egg.


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Amphora Aromatics Orange & Clove Reed Diffuser Giveaway + Black Friday Deals! - it's over!

I recently reviewed Amphora Aromatics gorgeous Orange & Clove Reed Diffuser Kit* which is truly beautiful - long lasting, with a good scent throw, stylish and great value for money. See my review HERE. One of my UK readers can win one of their very own! All you need to do is follow the rafflecopter below!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amphora Aromatics are offering a HUGE 25% off all their RANGES on Black Friday (24.11.17)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NARLOA: Jasmine & Neroli Body Oil, Mandarin Cleansing Oil & Shea & Sugar Lip Scrub

Emma at Beauty Folio was raving about a beautiful brand she's discovered called NARLOA (psst...get 15% off with 'emma').

The brand is Vegan, cruelty free and hand made in small batches. It's free from parabens, fillers, alcohol and synthetic preservatives. The packaging is simple but stylish (and the labels are printed inhouse!) I think the range is very good value as well as lovely.

I picked the two items which most appealed to me (and Hannah very kindly sent me a new product (which isn't launched quite yet to review).

As you'll see I simply adore the Jasmine & Neroli Body Oil (125ml - £15) which is a light blend of skin nourishing oils of Sweet Almond, Rice Bran, Safflower, fractionated Coconut, Grapeseed, Avocado and Jojoba oils along with rejuvenating Neroli and restoring Jasmine. 

It's a beautiful body oil which deeply restores and rejuvenates the skin leaving it delicately scented.

To use: slather over the body after your bath or shower.

The second product I picked is Mandarin Cleansing Oil (50ml - £12.50) which is a blend of plant oils that cleanse and lift impurities. It quickly dissolves make up and daily grime leaving the skin feeling clean and comfortable and it has a gorgeous zesty mandarin scent. 

To use: apply a small amount to dry skin massaging over the face and neck. Remove with a warmed damp muslin cloth.

The Shea & Sugar Lip Scrub 15ml* gently sloughs off flakey skin on the lips (perfect for winter use) leaving the lips feeling soft and nourished (it also smells good enough to eat!)

Have you used any products from NARLOA?


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box: November: Beauty Sleep

November's Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box theme is #BeautySleep and inside are a treasure trove of beautiful products to help you sleep. Sign up for £21 a month plus £3.95 p&p - see HERE.

Everything is beautifully packaged in it's own branded box:

WOW! This month there is only one new to me brand Organdle, a Scottish hand made candle company. Inside there is a Dreamer Wellbeing Candle which helps you to relax and unwind before bed. It contains essential oils of Clary Sage, Green Mandarin and Roman Chamomile blended with natural soy wax. This is worth £14.95 and I'm looking forward to lighting it!

JUN-i featured in a previous box and this month we have their Facial Oil & Cleanser (I love a multi-use product) which is worth £10 and is formulated with Jojoba oil, Almond oil, Vitamin E, Raspberry Seed oil and Lemon essential oil. It has an uplifting scent and I'm looking forward to testing it out.

I'd heard of Spacemasks before but this is my first try! It's a eye mask which sounds delightful - jasmine scented iron particles heat up on contact with the air to ease tension and encourage circulation. The mask helps to alleviate strain on the eyes caused by excessive screen staring, stress and headaches. This mask is worth £3.

I'm a huge fan of gorgeous Kiss the Moon and these DREAM Bedtime Bath Salts £5. They are perfect to use before bed (and you should get two uses from the sachet). Lavender and Bergamot soothe and relax both the body and mind.

The last two brands I've also heard of (and tried different products from their ranges). From Organic Trevarno we have Camomile & Lavender Bath & Body Oil £5 which is a delight. I tried it on Sunday night and found it totally relaxed and zoned me out! Love!

The final item this month is Calendula & Lavender Soothing Eye Treatment £5 from Kozmetics which is perfect to use in the evening before bed. It soothes and treats the delicate eye area smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles.

Again, another fabulous box for me. What do you think of the contents this month?

Monday, 20 November 2017

Review: Wild Azur Skincare

I've had the real pleasure of trying Clare Hoar's beautiful skincare range wild azur. Everything about the packaging (Miron glass) and products are so luxurious - they really are beautiful and the products are a joy to use.

She first witnessed the power of Frankincense Sacra Essential Oil when her husband started using it on a friend's recommendation to heal some moles. The moles disappeared and Clare started researching healing properties of essential oils including Frankincense.

The range is natural, organic, healing, nourishing, anti-ageing, Vegan friendly, fairly traded and ethical and sustainable ingredients are sourced. 5% of all product sales go to the work of Conservationist, Jane Goodall and her team.

Rebalancing Frankincense Face Serum (65 euros approx £58)* is beautiful. It's formulated with repairing Rosehip, uplifting Orange Peel oil, balancing Geranium, mood lifting Bergamot peel oil, relaxing Lavender, Boswellia Sacra Frankincense oil from Oman and anti-inflammatory Calendula Officinalis extract.

To use: massage 2-3 drops onto cleansed skin. Use nightly or as needed.

The serum is just fantastic! It helps to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, balances, tones and lifts, de-stresses the skin and mind and can heal a whole lot of skin conditions including acne and dry cracked skin.

Frankincense Boswellia Sacra 5ml (30 euros approx £26)* can help with ageing skin, skin conditions, anxiety, improving concentration, fight illness, balance hormones, as a sleep aid, ease digestion, heal wounds and fight cancer.

To use: add 6-10 drops to your bathwater, mix 5 drops with water to use in an oil burner, mix 6-10 drops with hot water as an inhalation, mix 1-2 drops per 10ml of carrier oil for massage and add to raw chocolate.

Replenishing Night Cream (50ml - 55 euros approx £49)* with Apricot, Rosehip and Lavender. This is a beautiful cream which absorbs instantly (and smells glorious). The cream is anti-ageing, repairing and restoring the skin while you sleep.

To use: massage onto the skin nightly with or without the Facial Serum.

Revitalising Day Cream (50ml - 55 euros approx £49)* with Geranium, Calendula and Clary Sage.  Like the night cream this absorbs quickly leaving the skin feeling comfortable, nourished and delicately scented.

To use: apply to the skin in the morning with the Face Serum or alone.

I've been so impressed with these products and the brand. Pick yours up HERE.