Thursday, 29 November 2018

November Book Round-Up

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

Mother Country by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff* - I found this book absolutely fascinating and would recommend. The stories are edited by Charlie but she lets the stories of the Windrush generation shine.

The stories are from people from all walks of life and make interesting reading - some make you smile, some sad and others angry.

We learn of the journeys to a "better life", the hardship, the parties, the families, the work, the food and of those who make the trip back home again. Would recommend.

Settlement by Anne Stormont** - I took part in the blog tour for this amazing read. See my review HERE.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi* - oh how I loved this story. The character Gilda is absolutely fascinating and I loved her. It's 1969 and Gilda's son is getting married. His wife to be Alice is a petite blonde and pretty girl with a nice nature who makes Gilda feel inadequate. Her son is absolutely besotted with his new wife and in turn Gilda becomes obsessed with her. She follows her when she's out shopping, at work at the beauty counter or at the hairdressers. Gilda loves when they "accidentally" bump into each other and Alice makes a fuss of her. 

Young Gilda witnessed something she shouldn't have and her father banished her from the family home in Germany to boarding school in England where she can't fit in. She has one friend, the loyal Margo who has stuck by her through thick and thin, all through the years and during her arranged marriage to Frank and subsequent stormy but passionate relationship and marriage to Leo.

Frank and his second wife Berta make it difficult for Gilda to spend quality time with her son which makes her more of a stranger to him. All she really wants is her son's love and to feel part of a family. I liked how she turns things around and gains confidence in who she is and realises she couldn't have got through anything without her faithful pal Margo by her side. A stunning first novel which I absolutely loved.

Redemption by Candice Fox (Crimson Lake #2)* - oh I absolutely love this second book in the series featuring former detective, Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell (and woman and her geese). Amanda has hired Ted to help her in her Private Investigation business and people hire them to investigate crimes in Crimson Lake.

Ted is still fighting the case which ruined his life. Being accused of raping a young girl. His case is thrown out due to lack of evidence but he's lost more than his reputation as his wife Kelly wants nothing to do with him and this means he doesn't see his little daughter very often.

He's trying to rebuild his life at Crimson Lake when Dale, Claire's father turns up beats him up and then won't leave until he finds out what happened to his daughter. Dale believes Ted should be helping him if it turns out that he's been innocent all along.

There's another story running alongside where two young adults are murdered in the local bar and Ted and Amanda are asked to investigate.. A great twisty read which I recommend (and I was happy for White Dog).

The Broken Girls by Simone St James* - I absolutely adored this twisty read set in two timelines - the 1950s and the current day (2014).

Idelwide Hall is a school for unruly girls, those their families can't control, runaways and orphans. Four roommates become friends and when one of them goes missing they don't and can't believe she's run away.

The story then jumps to the present day and plucky journo Fiona Sheridan. She's got a lot to live up to as her dad is a famous journalist. Twenty years ago her sister was murdered and her boyfriend is now serving life. It's always in her mind and niggles her especially as things are not as clear cut as they seem..

She finds out the hall is being restored by a mystery buyer who is turning it back into an exclusive boarding school and she decides to write a story about it. Her cop boyfriend feels she's clutching at straws and should leave it well along. His dad, after all was Chief all these years go and presided over her sister's case and he feels she should leave it well alone.

But ever the journalist she delves deeper into the past and finds out some incredible facts and meets people connected with the school from all those years ago..

We learn more about the girls and their life at school. We also discover the creepy Hall is haunted by the ghost of Mary Hand who lost her baby and on no account should Mary be let in...

It's an atmospheric book and you almost feel you are there experiencing everything both in the past and present day. There are some great twists and moments which left me breathless. Absolutely loved it.

My final read this month is Attend by West Camel** - a stunning first novel which had me gripped from the very first page. I'm taking part in the blog tour next month so I'll share my thoughts in my December round-up.

From last month (these book hadn't been published when I wrote my October round-up):

Five Days of Fog by Anna Freeman* - the story is set in London in 1952 and is set around the "real" great smog when London was hit with an impenetrable fog for a period of time.

Ruby, the Queen of the Cutters is waiting to get released from Holloway Prison and her daughter Florrie is wanting a different life away from life of crime and is unsure how her mum will take it. She's got a boy, her second cousin Ted and wants to go on the straight and narrow.

The Cutters, are an all female shoplifting gang, all with very strong characters including Maggie & Ada who have shared the same man. The characters and scenes are absolutely captivating. With the post war houses, WWII bomb sites and cafe's selling stale cakes and weak tea.

The girls do get themselves in many a scrape and cousin Nell, who proves herself time and time again to be a "Palmer" through and through but not always through choice but circumstances. I adored Florrie and Nell. An absolute triumph of a book which I just loved.

The Doll Collector by Joanna Stephen-Ward* - OMG I loved this twisty and creepy read. There were a couple of twists I just didn't see coming.

Maurice takes a lodger to help pay the rent. All Gloria has ever wanted is to be loved and cherished. With a tragic past she's determined to make people like her and forces her friendship on the neighbours whether they like it or not.

She cleans up grungy Maurice, his grubby home and is the weirdest, strangest and most disturbed and obsessive character ever.

She collects dolls and each one represents someone she's killed... Ian and his father are trying to evict Maurice and unfortunately for Ian he meets Gloria. She's furious when she learns the flat's only rented rather than owned and decides to needs to exact her revenge on Maurice... with a couple of massive twists I didn't see coming. I absolutely loved it.

The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson* - Grace has it all, a gorgeous husband a beautiful flat, a book deal and is a successful Instgram star. She doesn't want all that ghastly stuff that happened in the past come back to haunt her...she thought she left it all behind when she recreated herself in France.

Molly, her friend from all these years go has come back on the scene, she's obsessed with Gracie and what happened in the past with their friend Charlotte. Molly depends on alcohol too much, going from job to job never really settling. She just can't forget the past...

A journo has been blogging about cases that have been unsolved and he's interested in The Orchid Girls.. The story drew me in from the very first page. It was fast paced with a few twists along the way..

What have you been reading this month?

*e-copy from the publisher via Netgalley
**e-copy sent in exchange for blog tour review

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

That Natural Hygge: Mage Rose Geranium Candle

Just before That Natural Hygge's launch, founder Lou sent me a beautiful box of goodies* from the shop including a gorgeous candle from new to me Belgian brand, Mage, who hand pour the 100% natural candles into blown glass candleholders. You can see the range available in the shop HERE (I'm also loving the sound of Grapefruit & Grand Duke of Tuscany (Jasmin).

The candles are presented in a recyclable brown box and are ECOCERT certified. Lou will make your parcel into something special with tissue and rose and lavender buds with everything packed with care and attention to detail.

The candle is a blend of beeswax and vegetable wax and is scented with rose geranium and finished with a 100% ecological wick. It really is a relaxing treat for the mind and senses (burn time 28hrs). This candle is currently out of stock but you can pick up one the same size (250g) in Eucalyptus or Grand Duke of Tuscany (Jasmin) for currently £10.50 making it a great Christmas present or stocking filler. 

The scent is aromatic rose geranium which lightly but sweetly scents the room as well as calming the senses. 


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

November Empties

Here's what I've been using up in November:

Yellow Gorse Chai Tea Scrub - just loved this. See my review HERE. Sure to pick this up again.

OM Original Detox Shampoo 15ml* - sachets are great to try. I picked this one up at Love Lula and got two uses from it. It left my hair looking shiny and revitalised. Would maybe buy full size.

Korres Bergamot Pear Body Milk 40ml - this had been at the back of my cupboard so I thought I should use it up!  With an uplifting fruity scent it was really nice to use. I'd maybe buy it again.

Sunday Riley Tidal 8g - I really like this gel-cream. It's got a light texture and absorbs easily. I tend to pick it up when I see them up for sale on selling pages on facebook.

D’ALCHÉMY Age Cancellation Booster 15ml* - a really beautiful face cream which I loved. It absorbed easily, had a gorgeous scent and left my skin nourished and healthy. Full size is on the wishlist. See my review HERE.

Planted Circulation Boosting Orange Coffee Scrub 50ml* - probably the best coffee scrub I've used. Super moisturising and lovely. Will buy when my scrub stash reduces. See my review HERE.

Madara Volcano Scrub Soap - just brilliant. Really scrubby. See my review HERE. Yes, I'll buy this again.

Juno Skincare Elan Face Tonic Spritzer 100ml** - a beautiful product from a gorgeous range. Simply loved this and was sad when I used it up. See my review HERE.

Zojo Beauty Elixirs The Bikini Body 35g* - one of the best supplements I've used. See my review HERE. Will definitely buy.

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter 29ml - loved this uplifting and fruity butter which absorbed quickly and left the skin feeling nourished and smelling of blood oranges. Gorgeous! Hope to pick up some more of these.

Stella Says Rosewood & Geranium Hand Rescue Balm 20g - picked up from Stella at Maltby Street Market last year. Absolutely gorgeous and I'll definitely be picking more up. See my review HERE.

What have you been using up this month?

*sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program

Monday, 26 November 2018

November: Lately I've been Loving

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

The brilliant sequel to Displacement by Anne Stormont. I just totally loved both books. See my review HERE (and there's going to be a book #3 which I'm really excited about!)

Coming across this beautiful new brand* via my Beauty Bible email subscription - Wild & Precious.  The products are gorgeous. Expect a review soon!

Finishing my challenge over on Goodreads of 100 Books (although I'll keep going until the year end!)

Discovering Blue Labelle have a gorgeous new soap range which smell incredible - of course I had to pick up a few. Reviews will be up soon! Really wish there was scratch and sniff - the scents are exquisite (prices range from £2 upwards).

I've been testing out some more products* from Guiltless Skin including the new moisturiser - Timeless Daily Moisturiser. It's a really lovely and effective range. Expect reviews soon! See my previous reviews HERE and HERE.

Real Rocky followed me on Twitter and then mentioned they could be purchased at my local gift shop COVE so on Friday I popped round and picked up a couple of small pieces.

Totally delicious and I highly recommend - see the online shop HERE. You'll also find them opposite Edinburgh Uni Library on George Square.

What have you been loving this month?


Sunday, 25 November 2018

Weleda Luxury Three Drawer Gift Set

This Luxury Three Drawer Gift Set from Weleda (£32)* is the ultimate sampling experience (and the perfect gift for any Green Beauty lover). Inside the three drawers are a range of goodies for the body - mini washes, body oils and lotions (and the drawers are re-usable after the products have been used making it ideal for stashing your samples or make up).

Body Washes (20ml)

Almond Sensitive Skin Body Wash
Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash (Mini REVIEW)
Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash (REVIEW)
Lavender Creamy Body Wash
Pomegranate Creamy Body Wash

Body Lotions (20ml)

Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion (Mini REVIEW)
Citrus Hydrating Body Lotion
Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Body Lotion (REVIEW)
Almond Sensitive Body Lotion
Pomegranate Regenerating Body Lotion

Body Oils (10ml)

Wild Rose Body Oil (Mini REVIEW)
Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil
Arnica Massage Oil
Lavender Relaxing Body Oil (REVIEW)
Sea Buckthorn Body Oil (REVIEW)

Pick yours up HERE.


Saturday, 24 November 2018

Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box: November: Sweet Dreams

November's Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box is entitled #SweetDreams and is absolutely packed full. Inside this month are 8 items which will help you have a restful and peaceful night's sleep.  The subscription costs £24.95 a month and as ever, there are money off codes supplied by some of the brands which is a lovely added extra.

Paula, Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box Founder always finds tissue which is perfect for that month's theme.

Inside is a beautiful array of goodies!

Just WOW! And for a closer look...

From gorgeous Butter Bar Soapery is a 65g pot of their Cornflower & Frankincense Bath Soak which is worth £8. I'm a huge fan of this brand and can't wait to try this luxurious treat.

From new to me brand Joanna Naturals is their So Calm Facial Oil with Chamomile, Lavender & Geranium 10ml (£16) which will calm, rejuvenate and balance the skin. This is gorgeous and a review will follow. 

Also inside are two Weleda trial sizes- Lavender Creamy Body Wash 20ml (£3) and Lavender Body Oil 10ml (£3) which I've used several times before. They are lovely for relaxing and calming both the body and mind before bed.

Yellow Gorse are a relatively new find for me (see what I bought recently HERE). I think it's an exciting brand and I'm happy to see their Pillow Sleep Sachet (£3.80) inside the box this month. Slip the herbal blend sachet inside your pillowcase to aid restful sleep (it'll last around a month).

I'm a huge Spacemasks fan (£3) as they just do as they say they will. Calm and relax (and in some cases have sent me off to sleep!) The single use eye mask relaxes and calms both the eyes and mind. Perfect to use before bed.

Another new to me brand (although I am aware of them) is Celtic Herbal and inside is a pot of their Sleep Balm with Mandarin & Ylang Ylang 25g (£5.50) which smells glorious (even though I love lavender it's nice to have a different sleep scent) This is a beaut and I'm looking forward to testing it out. A review will follow!

The final item is from lovely Bespoke Aroma and inside is their Lavender Pillow Mist 30ml (£4.25) which soothes and calms before bed.

As ever, it's a brilliant box and I'm looking forward to trying everything out. Are you a subscriber? If so, what are your thoughts?

Friday, 23 November 2018

Jan de Vries: Relaxing Essence

I've been testing out Relaxing Essence 30ml (£4.99)* from Jan de Vries. The essence helps you to slow down and relax, stay focused and productive (great for the busy periods during late November and December). It's also great to unwind, de-stressing and to cope with worry and anxiety.

The flower essence is formulated with dandelion, oak, elm and bluebell in a brandy base. Use it if you are feeling worried, tense or anxious to calm and unwind.

To use: take 5 drops in a little water 3 times a day.

I've found it really calms me down and relaxes me. Pick yours up HERE and see the whole range available HERE.


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Review: Nura Skincare

Way back in August I tried Nura Skincare's Mini-Me Skin Essentials an exquisitely packaged sample set. I've been trying a few more product from the range which the founder and formulator, Julia very kindly sent me.

The products are beautifully presented (I just love the ribbon embellishments) and they'd make perfect Christmas gifts. 

See the beautiful gift sets available HERE

Pure Nutri Lip Balm (£4.50 - 4.5g)* would make the ideal small gift/secret santa present. It deeply nourishes and soothes the lips. With no added fragrances it's suitable for both men and women.

To use: apply to the lips as often as required.

Soothing Dry Body Oil with Calendula Flower Oil (£14 - 100ml)* is an aromatic treat for both the skin and senses. It's a luxurious skin loving blend scented with Lavender, Bergamot, Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang. It absorbs quickly leaving the skin delicately scented and deeply nourished.

To use: massage over damp skin after your bath or shower.

Nourishing Hand Cream with Vitamin B3 & Calendula Flower Oil  (£9 - 50ml)* which is a real treat for the hands. It deeply nourishes and cares for the hands and nails.  Skin tone and pigmentation issues improves with extended use and the cream is scented with Rose Geranium, Frankincense and Petitgrain.

To use: apply as often as needed paying particular attention to the backs of your hands.

Have you tried any products from the range? I've been really impressed with all three products. Pick yours up HERE.


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Moroccan Shine Argan Oil

I've had the real pleasure of trying Moroccan Shine Argan Oil (30ml)* £12.99 (there are Black Friday deals with 20% off at the moment - just send a message on the Facebook group to find out more) All orders are beautifully gift wrapped and the oil is made in Morocco and Moroccan Shine is a Scottish company.

The Argan Oil is presented in a glass spray bottle, is 100% Organic, Vegan and certified by ECOCERT and USDA. I've tried a lot of Argan Oils and this one has a light and nutty scent, absorbs quickly and is a great multi-tasker.

Use it on the face and body including face and neck, body skin, hair as a deep treatment before washing or to tame flyaways, on hands and feet including cuticles, for massage and it also works as a great beard oil - I love a multi-use product.

Have you tried Moroccan Shine?


Tuesday, 20 November 2018

My Top Reads - January - June 2018

And....breathe...I've completed my 100 book challenge on Goodreads, while it's not going to stop me reading for the rest of the year it does take the pressure off! In the January - June period I read 57 books and chose my top 16:


Follow the Dead - Rhona Macleod #12 by Linn Anderson - I absolutely adore this series and have book #13 nestling on my kindle right now. 

Dark Game - DI Kelly Porter #1 by Rachel Lynch - oh this new series with feisty Kelly Porter is just fabulous. See my review in January book round up HERE.


Everything Love Is by Claire King - so loved this sensitively written tale which has so stayed with me all these months later.

Anna - One Love, Two Stories by Amanda Prowse - oh I just loved lovely Anna. A great start to an amazing series.

Bring Me Back by B A Paris - I just loved this story (and still think of it now). I was given the chance to read an alternative ending but the one chosen for the book suits me just fine.

The Missing Ones - DI Lottie Parker #1 by Patrica Gibney - I just adore this series and Lottie Parker.  See my February reviews HERE.


Star of the North by D B John - I read this amazing book in March but reviewed it when it was published in May - it was interesting and fascinating at the same time. Highly recommend.

Deadly Secrets - Detective Erika Foster #6 by Robert Bryndza - this again was not published until later and I reviewed it in my April book round-up (it's fantastic). See my March book round-up HERE.


Mark of the Devil (Inspector Jim Carruthers #3) by Tana Collins - this series just keeps getting better and better. Roll on book #4.

Restless Coffins - Detective J T Ellington #3 by M P Wright - Ever since I read Heartman (the first in the series) way back in November 2014 I've had a good friendly relationship with Mark - he always sends me first proofs and I get a mention in his books (makes my heart sing!) See my April round-up HERE.


Absent - DS Coupland Four by Emma Salisbury - I absolutely adore this series and was made up to be invited to Emma's book launch along with Joanne and Kelly in North Berwick.

Songs by Dead Girls (HET #2) by Lesley Kelly - I can honestly say I'm chuffed to know Lesley also in real life. This series is absolutely brilliant and I highly recommend it. I also loved The Art of Not Being Dead (A Health of Strangers Short Story) which featured in my March book roundup.

Dying Truth - DI Kim Stone #8 by Angela Marsons - I just adore this series. This one has an almighty twist which I wasn't sure there would be any coming back from!

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan - I loved this carefully researched and painstakingly drawn book (in fact I could quite easily call it my book of '18 - that's how much I loved it). See my May book round-up HERE.


Tubing by K A McKeagney - a brilliant debut novel which had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Looking forward already to Kerry's second novel.

The Quaker - Duncan McCormack #1 by Liam McIllvanney - a great new series which I loved. See my June book round-up HERE.

Have you read any of these? Do we share any favourites?

Monday, 19 November 2018

Free with Elle Magazine - Bella Freud Close to my Heart EdP

You'll know how much I love a magazine freebie ooh and a perfume freebie - bring it on! I just picked up Elle Magazine (in a double pack with Cosmo) for £4.99. The freebie this month is Bella Freud's Close to my Heart EdP (10ml - worth £19) (the link is for the full size bottle - 50ml - £95).

The perfume is absolutely stunning and would make a great Christmas or Secret Santa gift if you can bear to part with it (buy 2!)

The scent is "oriential" and has a sensual heart of tuberose with neroli, rose de mai and jasmine. It's a really beautiful feminine scent and can be used both in daytime and into the evening and it was created with her long-time friend and perfumer, Azzi Glasser.

To use: apply to pulse points or spritz a cloud in front of you and walk into it to be enveloped in a delicate veil of scent

I adore Tuberose and Neroli so think this perfume is absolutely beautiful. It has powdery top notes which mellow into creamy florals with woody and musky base notes.  It's a beaut! And a keeper. Do you think you'll pick it up?