Saturday, 29 February 2020

February Book Round-Up

Here's what I've been reading in February. Books/ebooks marked * I've generously received via the Publisher directly or via Netgalley

*The Foundling by Stacey Halls - this is an atmospheric read which I devoured in a few sittings. The story is set in London in 1745. Bess, who is unmarried and with child has to leave her daughter Clara at London's Foundling Hospital. It breaks her heart to do so and she is determined to reclaim her. On her return six years later she finds her daughter has already been claimed, supposedly by her the very next day after leaving her there. Bess is determined to find out who took her daughter and why.

Meanwhile over on the posh side of London a young widow, who hasn't left the house since her husband died is persuaded by her friend, a doctor who works at the Foundling Hospital to take on a nursemaid to look after her young daughter. What follows is a richly drawn story of a mother's love and one which will do whatever it takes to claim what is hers. A stunning read. Absolutely loved it.

*Little Doubt - DI Kelly Porter #7 by Rachel Lynch - I just adore Kelly Porter! Little Doubt is not published until March so I'll share my review in my March Book Round-Up.

*Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler - I'm taking part in the blog tour for this gem of a book. Catch my review early next month. It's one of my fav books of 2020.

*Her Husband's Mistake by Sheila O'Flanagan - Again, I'm taking part in the blog tour in March. I'll share my review then. A brilliant read.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James - having loved The Broken Girls I jumped in and bought Simone's newest novel. It's absolutely fantastic. Super creepy and un-put-downable and I devoured it in a couple of days.

The rundown motel in Fell, upstate NY hasn't changed since 1982. Carly has come looking for answers. Her aunt was working at the motel when she disappeared without a trace leaving all her belongings including her car behind. 

The story is told from two points of view - Viv in 1982 and Carly in 2017. It's creepy and dark with twisty storylines. Viv was working the nightshift when strange things started happening such as the smell of cigarette smoke and shuffling feet to the doors of the rooms opening at random, the smell of perfume and the young boy on the walk way upstairs. She wants to find out who the woman is who tells her to "run". She decides to investigate why all the young women are being killed in Fell and unravel who the travelling salesman really is.

Carly meanwhile wants to find out what happened to her aunt. Her mum has recently died and she feels the time is right to find out what happened all these years ago.   She of course can look at the internet and spends time at the local archive searching through the old newspapers. She also takes on her aunt's old job at the motel! It's a really brilliant, twisty, creepy, eerie and unputdownable read with some twists I didn't see coming. I absolutely adored it (and another top read!)

*The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange by Sue Lawrence - oh I adored this richly drawn tale based on a true story. I'm taking part in the blog tour next month so I'll share my review then. Another book which makes my best of 2020!

Last October, I read *A Bit of A Stretch - The Diaries of a Prisoner by Chris Atkins (it was published this month) which I found absolutely fascinating. It is informative, eye-opening, compelling and funny. There's some fact weaved into the story which makes for shocking reading. We learn exactly what it's like to be a prisoner at HMP Wandsworth, one of the largest prisons in Europe.

Chris is sent to prison after being found guilty of taking part in a tax avoidance scheme to fund his film making and is sent down for 5 years. He tells it like it is - the appalling conditions that inmates live in, officers who couldn't care less, the lack of resources, the filth, the vermin and tells us about the prisoners with serious drug and mental health issues. 

He finds a way to be out of his cell which grants him privileges by becoming a Listener (they are trained by the Samaritans) listening to those who need a listening ear. He also makes some friends when he's inside (one of whom he now visits in prison). There are some laugh out loud moments and some highly entertaining episodes as well as a first hand look at what is going on right now in UK prisons. Would highly recommend.

In November 2019 I read the incredible *The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue which was suitably gothic, dark and intense (it was published this month also). It's nearing the 25th anniversary of when a pupil and a teacher disappeared without a trace from the elite Catholic Boarding School. A journo, with vague links to sixteen year old Louisa feels there's more mystery to unravel and seeks to research and write about the main players back then, including her best friend Victoria, now a high flyer in the City as well as former Head Girl, the flinty and obnoxious Helen.

Louisa was a scholarship girl who finds the rules and regulations difficult and she bonds almost instantly with gorgeous rich girl Victoria. They quickly become friends and spend most of their free time together. Victoria believes their dashing Art Teacher, Edward Lavelle is her destiny and she's head over heels in love and he with her. It's a tale of unrequited love and teenage angst set in the crumbling old school among the overgrown and rambling grounds. 

An exquisite debut with interesting characters, twisty storylines, secrets, lies, love, friendship and that twist which left me absolutely reeling. I absolutely adored it and so recommend (and yes, another top read!)

What have you been reading this month?

Thursday, 27 February 2020

February: Lately I've been Loving

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

Feel Unique's newish Beauty Kit (5 deluxe samples for £12 plus £3.95 p&p) the p&p is refunded as a code to be redeemed against your next purchase. See my initial thoughts HERE. I'm looking forward to picking more treats in March.

A new monthly perfume subscription from Bare&Bond - see my review HERE.

My first G&T after Dry January! I chose Barra Gin, which was delicious. We also enjoyed a lovely three course lunch at Castle Terrace Restaurant.

Carrot - Caramelised Walnut - Goats Cheese

Lamb - Polenta a la Provencal

Chocolate & Pear Tart

We also had amuse bouche, pre-starter and petit fours. Can't wait to go back! The food was excellent and the service impeccable.

Sampling Jeffrey's Tonic Syrup which was something I picked up for dry January. Delicious poured into sparkling water for a delicious alternative to alcohol. You can also use the tonic syrups for cocktails/in Prosecco. 

Christmas dinner in February! We always buy a turkey incase the weather prevents us from visiting family over Christmas and it's become tradition eat it in February now! It was delicious.

Having loved Simone St James's novel The Broken Girls I couldn't wait for her latest book The Sun Down Motel which is absolutely brilliant.

What have you been loving this month?

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Plenaire Rose Jelly

I'd first spotted new to me Vegan brand Plenaire over at a little find but when I spotted that Cult Beauty were selling trial sizes (30ml - £16) I dived right in. You know my love for anything rosy and I'm very partial to a good cleanser...

With "result driven formulas, household name ingredients and multi-pronged formulas which you can mix-and-match to suit your skin" (there's also almost edible sounding Skin Frosting Deeply Hydrating Mask, Droplet Lightweight Moisture Gel, Violet Paste Blemish Solution and Tripler 3-in-1 Exfoliating Clay in the range). 

Rose Jelly has a lovely gel like texture, smells rosy (that's the steam distilled Bulgarian Rosewater) along with sugar derived actives. It makes short work of make up and daily grime leaving the skin feeling in tip-top condition. Simply apply to the skin, massaging in, apply a splash of water to make it milky before rinsing. 

Full size (100ml - £30) is definitely being bought and soon! Pick yours up HERE.

Monday, 24 February 2020

February Empties

Here's my February empties. Products marked with * are product samples:

Beauty Pie's Super Healthy Skin Nourishing Body Wash 450ml - I loved this gently foaming wash which had an orangey type scent. Lasted ages too! Might or might not buy again.

I absolutely adore Klorane's Dy Shampoo with Oatmilk 150ml which was a Latest in Beauty pick. I've just opened my 2nd one and got a 3rd one on the way. It's fantastic, has a pleasant floral scent and leaves no white residue. I use it twice a week.

I've just opened my second System Professional Reconstructive Elixir Luxe Oil 30ml which I reviewed HERE. It'll always be in my stash as it just works.

*Trilogy Hydrating Mist Toner 20ml which I reviewed HERE. Definitely one I'd buy full size when my stash reduces a bit.

*Madara Grow Volume Shampoo 10ml which came in January's fabulous Love Lula Beauty Box - see HERE. It's nice to use but I didn't really see any extra volume. Unlikely to buy full size.

System Professional Inessence Shampoo & Conditioner both 15ml sachets. These are the range's more "natural" products. I enjoyed using them (although the conditioner is clear like the shampoo!) Might or might not buy full size.

Madara Skin Equal Foundation samples (2ml) in shades Rose Ivory and Ivory. I loved Rose Ivory and would buy full size.

Rodial Vit C Eye Souffle 1ml which was nice to use but small sample - I didn't really notice much difference around the eye area. Would probably have to try it for longer/bigger size. Unlikely to buy.

Nourish Argan Anti-ageing Peptide Serum 2ml a nice product which I'd used before. Would buy again.

Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly 1ml which I think would be great to use in the summer months due to it's light gel consistency.

*Madara Grow Volume Conditioner 10ml - nice enough to use but I didn't really notice any difference to the volume of my hair. Unlikely to buy full size.

Ezape Naturals Ylang Ylang & Lavender Body Oil 50ml - a lush and rich blend of skin loving oils scented with essential oils. Lovely to use. I've got another two in my stash from beauty boxes!

Connock London Andiroba Oil Hand & Body Wash 75ml - this came in a set which I mentioned HERE. A gorgeous floral wash which was nice to use. Perfect for travel too.

Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Deluxe Body Moisture Creme 250ml - I adore this luxurious body creme. See my review HERE. I've just opened a new pot. 

What have you been using up this month?

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Naturisimo Wish List: Rahua, S'Well, ILIA, 100% Pure, REN

I'm always checking out Naturisimo's latest arrivals. These are the ones I'm adding to my current wishlist:

Rahua's Palo Santo Perfume Oil (20ml - £32) had already been spotted and wanted over at Content Beauty & Wellbeing. I need no more perfumes but adore the Palo Santo "holy wood" scent. Sure to pick this up soon.

I've been lusting after S'well's Easts Nesting Bowl in Blue Granite (£35) which keeps food hot/or cold. Perfect for taking lunch to work. It'll be mine and soon!

Not even landed yet but ILIA's brand new Super Serum Skin Tint Broad Spetrum SPF40 (30ml - £43) which gives the skin a tinted pop of colour while moisturising and protecting from the sun. NEED!

100% Pure Pure Yuzu & Pomelo Glossing Shampoo (both 236ml - £19.50) and Conditioner which I just love the sound of.

Rounding up my current wants is REN's latest launch - Perfect Canvas Jelly Cleanser (100ml - £25) which deeply cleans leaving the skin feeling comfortable and ready for moisture.

What's on your Naturisimo wishlist?

*credit - images from Naturisimo website

Thursday, 20 February 2020

BYBI Beauty: Strawberry Booster

As you'll know I've fallen head-over-heels for BYBI Beauty's Boosters. See my earlier reviews HERE and HERE. I received this little beauty in Content Beauty's rather fabulous Vegan Starter Set - see HERE.

If you buy strawberry booster on it's own it costs a very affordable £12. Inside that little pink bottle is 100% cold pressed strawberry seed oil which deeply nourishes the skin.

It's rich but absorbs very quickly, has a very faint strawberry aroma and give winter skin a much needed hydration boost. I love how the oil is made from the strawberry seeds which are a waste product from the juicing industry - great recycling/re-use!

To use: apply on it's own AM and PM or add to your serum, moisturiser or balm for an extra hit of hydration.

I absolutely love this rich oil which hydrates, softens and smoothes the skin (lucky me, I've a back up bottle!) What are your favourites in the range?

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Floral Street: Electric Rhubarb EdP 10ml

Having tried a sample vial of Electric Rhubarb EdP via Feel Unique's pick 'n' mix samples I decided to pick up a 10ml bottle of the said scent (RRP £24, although I had a voucher code which came via the samples for £3.95 making the perfume a very affordable treat!)

It's the perfect scent for coming into Spring - a luscious white floral with fruity notes of sharp and deliciously sweet rhubarb. It's perfect for daytime taking you into evening time.

With notes of Rhubarb, Australian Sandalwood, Island Gardenia Frangipani and Jasmine Sambac. It really is a delight.

The range is Vegan and wide ranging - you're bound to find at least one or two you fall head-over-heels in love with.  They are also perfect for layering. See the collection HERE. Are you a Floral Street fan?

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

*Love Lula Beauty Box: February 2020

*I receive the Love Lula Beauty Box free of charge as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger for an honest review. All thoughts are genuine - I think it's a really great box this month! The contents this month are worth £44 and inside are 5 products. Reviews will follow once I've had the chance to really test the products out. As ever there is a very generous code for subscribers which gives them 25% off brands in the box this month.


I was especially excited to see a full-size of Ooh! - Oils of Heaven Raspberry Seed Oil (£19 - 30ml) as it had been on the wishlist! It's rich in essential fatty acids, possesses a superior anti-inflammatory quality and is great for acne/combo/dehydrated/sensitive skin types. It seems really lovely and I'm enjoying it so far. 

I was also pleased to see My.Haircare's Rescue my Hair Pollution Patrol Shampoo Bar nestling inside (£13.95 - 80g). I've used this fresh smelling bar once so far and my hair seems to love it! I've also tried their Hydrate Shampoo Bar* see my thoughts HERE.

From Laidbare is a duo - DIY Cleanser & Toner (30ml trial size) - mini review and their For Richer for Porer (£7.99 - 50ml) - mini review. I've used these before and my skin loves them. Hardworking and affordable.

The final item this month is a mini of Ayumi's Turmeric Face Scrub (again, I've used this before and my skin loves it. It also smells amazing). 

What do you think of the contents this month? Are you a subscriber? 

Monday, 17 February 2020

Perfume Collab: Zara x Jo Malone Emotions Perfume Collection

My friend Julie had flagged up that Zara was collaborating with Jo Malone to create an affordable range of EdP perfumes (£5.99, £15.99 and £25.99 depending on size). So of course, last time in town I had to go and investigate (it was on payday after a long January and the shop was heaving!) The perfumes are right besides one of the tills so it's a bit awkward trying them all out when the shop is busy.

The packaging is plain but stylish and I picked the two which spoke to me the most that day (out of 8) but I'll definitely be back to buy more! For me the £15.99 size is best (40ml) as I found the £5.99 (10ml) rollerball quite clunky (but it's a very affordable way to try out the whole range before deciding if you want bigger sizes).

Vetiver Pamplemousse: Notes: Grapefruit, Mandarin & Vetiver
Fleur de Patchouli: Notes: Peony, Patchouli, Guaic Wood
Waterlily Tea Dress: Notes: Vert de Bergamot, Spearmint, Musk
Amalfi Sunray: Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Orange Blossom
Ebony Wood: Notes: Pink Peppercorn, Clove, Ebony Wood
Tuberose Noir: Notes: Ylang Ylang, Tuberose, Sandalwood
Fleur de Oranger: Notes: Orange Flower, Neroli, Ylang Ylang
Bohemian Bluebells: Notes: Lavender, Sandalwood, Musk

I'm loving the two I picked and would buy both again. I'm adding most of the above to my wishlist but especially - Amalfi Sunray, Ebony Wood, Tuberose Noir and Fleur de Oranger.

Have you any favourites?

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Shopping my Stash #112

And so... time for another shopping my stash post! 

I totally adore Jo Loves Jo by Jo Loves which my friend Julie gave me for my birthday last year. See my review HERE. It's an exquisite blend of Grapefruit, Lime, Bitter Orange, Spearmint, Cedarwood, Guaiac Wood, Vetiver, Hedione and Black Pepper.

I think I got the Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum mini in a Cult Beauty GWP. It provides intense hydration and is nice to use, softening out lines and wrinkles as well as nourishing.

I'm a huge fan of lovely Sol Je Janeiro Bum Bum Cream. I adore it's rich vanilla scent and how nourishing the butter is. I try to always have it in my stash.

The little Rituals of Dao Night Hand Balm came as a Feel Unique sample. It's a rich balm with a floral scent which is perfect to use before bed. I'd definitely consider buying this full size. 

My friend Sam gave me the Sea Magik 21 Mineral Mist for Christmas. I hadn't tried this product before although I've tried the brand. It's lovely to refresh, hydrate and soothe both the face and body - I've also used it as a setting spray. 

I'm a huge fan of neroli and Cocorosa's Award Winning Egyptian Neroli Cleansing Oil is simply sublime. It featured in my Valentines Day post HERE.

The final item is Ilia Liquid Light Serum Highlighter a few drops of which I add to my foundation for a bit of glow. I was really pleased with the whole kit I picked up. See my thoughts on it HERE.

What have you been reaching for this week?

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Odylique Lemongrass Body Wash

I've been trying Odylique's zesty and zingy Lemongrass Hand & Body Wash (200ml - £11) which makes my morning showers so much better! The gentle wash which is free from sulphates and SLS is formulated with nourishing biodynamic calandula and conditioning organic extra virgin olive oil along with a mild cleansing agent from corn sugar.

To use: apply to damp skin in the shower or use as a hand wash. The skin is left feeling comfortable and nourished.

The product is Vegan and the bottle has been made from a milk bottle and is recyclable. I'm also a huge fan of their Gentle Herb Shampoo (REVIEW). What are your favourites from the brand?

Friday, 14 February 2020

*Love Lula: It's all about the Roses: REN & Alteya

*sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program. My post contains two affiliate links. Seeing as it's Valentines Day today I thought I'd share my rose infused picks this month (you can see all my Valentine's Day gift suggestions HERE).

From REN we have their sumptuous Morroccan Rose Otto Firming Creme Riche (200ml - £37)* which truly is a delight.

It has a rich souffle like texture which melts onto warm skin (just massage a small amount onto the skin) for delicately scented and nourished skin. Such a luxe treat! I'm a huge fan of the Rose Otto range - see my previous reviews HERE and HERE.

From Alteya Organics is their Organic Bulgarian Centifolia Rose Water (120ml - £7.95)* which is presented in an amber glass bottle. It has an intensely rosy scent (the fresh blooms are picked by hand early in the morning when they are cool, fresh and when the first rays of sunshine unveil their fragrance). The mist will tone, soften, soothe, brighten, tighten, minimise pores and balance. 

To use: spritz when needed throughout the day or AM/PM before moisture, apply to the skin with a cotton pad, to set make up, as a body mist or a hair rinse. I do love a multi-use product.

My final pick this month, which is also from Alteya Organics is their romantic Organic Bulgarian Rose Lip Balm (4.5g - £4.50)* which has a gorgeous sweet rosy scent. The balm will give you lush and kissable lips scented with roses.

What are your top picks for Valentines Day?

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

A Little Find: Savon Stories

I placed a small order with A Little Find, an innovative online store led by founder, Caroline Jacobs-Graf who spent lots of time (and still does) researching the next exciting discovery (although her team of finders help now too!) You'll find brands like Emma Lomax, Aromatherapy Associates and Bamford along with new to me brands like Esker, One Ocean Beauty and Plenaire. 

I'd been gifted a Savon Stories soap before (see HERE) in a green beauty swap with Lynda, who writes over at Wonderlusting. Of course, I'd always meant to go back for more soap...

This time I picked up one of the Lotion Melt bars (which had been on my wishlist). I chose Renewal Concentrate Lotion Melt (70g - £14) which is formulated with 8 raw butters and 3 essential oils (also inside my box was a free sample, which is a nice touch).

The luxe waterless lotion is scented with my favourite neroli along with mandarin and Himalayan lavender and it melts on contact with warm skin. It's truly a delight!

To use: massage onto clean dry skin and when the butter begins to melt use your hands to massage it onto the skin (it has a glorious uplifting scent - it'll just make your day better!)

Have you bought anything from A Little Find yet?