Thursday, 30 April 2020

April Book Round-Up

*sent to me for review. Here's what I've been reading in April:

*The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld - The Bass Rock is central to the story of the three main characters lives which are linked and interwoven.

In the 18th Century, Sarah, who is taken for a witch flees with her Priest and his son. In the aftermath of WWII Ruth marries widower, Peter and takes on his two young sons. Their house, at North Berwick is too big for her when he's working in London and they boys are away at school. She befriends Betty, the cook/housekeeper, not particularly wanting to throw herself into village life and she still sorely misses her rock, her brother.

In the present day, Viviane is getting over her beloved father's death and is tasked with cataloguing Ruth's belongings prior to the house being put up for sale. She has her secrets, one of which is tearing her relationship with her sister Katherine apart.

The story is beautifully drawn and atmospheric and draws on mental health issues, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, friendship and the strengths of these three special women. I'd highly recommend.

*Payback (Maggie Laird & Wilma Harcus #4) by Claire MacLeary - oh how I love Big Wilma and Maggie. I took part in the blog tour. See my review HERE.

*Q by Christina Dalcher - I took part in the Blogger takeover for this un-put-downable read. See my review HERE. It's published today so make sure to pick up your copy!

*The Butchers by Ruth Giligan - I took part in the blog tour for this excellent read. See my review HERE (it's one of my favourite reads this year).

*Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin - I loved the story and characters of the two sisters. I took part in the blog tour. See my review HERE.

*Death of a Mermaid by Lesley Thomson - I'm taking part in the blog tour for this cracking read in May so catch my review then.

*Buried Angels - DI Lottie Parker #8 by Patricia Gibney - book 8! How did that happen. An amazing read which isn't published until May - I'll share my review in my May Book Round-Up (it's brilliant and I love Lottie!)

*Killing Mind - DI Kim Stone #12 by Angela Marsons - book 12!!! I just love Kim Stone and this series, it just keeps getting better and better. An amazing read. Again, not published until next month so I'll share my review then.

*Handle with Care by Rachel Hearson - the book isn't published until June so I'll share my review in my June round-up. An interesting read which I recommend.

From last month (awaiting publication):

*The Switch by Beth O'Leary - Having adored Beth's first book - The Flatshare I was over the moon to read The Switch. It's filled with serious issues, family, sadness, friendship, laugh out loud moments and romance.

High flyer and City Exec Leena Cotton fluffs and important presentation and her boss tells her, no orders her, to take a two month sabbatical and come back refreshed. She's never not worked and doesn't know what she's going to do. She returns to visit her grandmother in the sleepy village in Yorkshire, in the middle of nowhere where her gran and mother live. Her grandmother is sympathetic, to a point but thinks Leena needs to slow down especially to get over the death of her sister but also to make peace with her mum.

They decide on a two month swap - her newly single 79 year old gran, Eileen is going to move to Leena's London flat and live with her flatmates and find love while Leena is going to slow down and take over her grandmother's community tasks. Nothing can go wrong...or can it?

What follows is an amusing tale of Eileen finding love (and sex!) on the internet and Leena having time to relax and chat things through with her mum..which works to a certain extent. Taking over her grandmother's community role is a step too far... I loved the characters (especially the elderly residents in the village) and of course her friendship with the handsome young school teacher and his loveable dog. A fantastic read which I thoroughly recommend.

What have you been reading this month?

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

*Blogger Takeover: Q by Chistina Dalcher

Having loved VOX I was very excited to read and review Christina Dalcher's latest book - Q and today I'm on the Blogger Takeover (see all those taking part below). I very kindly received an ARC free of charge from the publisher. Pick up your copy from tomorrow.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.
Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.
Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.
But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

My thoughts?

Dr Elena Fairchild teaches at the new Silver Elite School which has the best-of-the-best pupils in attendance. Her daughters are like her - beautiful, ambitious and perfect. It's all about perfection now. There are three tiers of schools - Silver, Green and for the educationally inept, Yellow.

Every month everyone, including the teachers have to pass their Q tests. If they fail, they drop down a tier. To drop to Yellow means you are banished, away from family and friends to schools in the plains of Kansas and a strict regime.

One day, Freddie, Elena and Malcolm's youngest daughter fails her test. El begs him to use his powers - he works at the Education department to stop his daughter being sent away from all that she knows and loves. He refuses and once again she wonders who the monster is that she married.. She's also regretting being so for the new regime that her and Malcolm were instrumental in designing. 

Elena decides to fail her tests and engineers a way to get to the school Freddie is at. After a grueling journey she finds all is not well at all.... she also finds Alex, Malcolm's creepy friend there (he doesn't seem surprised to see her there either..) He's carrying out tests relating to selective breeding... Issues woven into the story include abortion, perfection, divorce, bullying, sadness, love and family as well as real life history. I found the story gripping and read it quickly in a couple of days. It's one of my favourite reads of 2020.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Top Products 2020: January to April

Products marked * I was kindly gifted for review. I normally do a top products twice a year. Seeing as things are different right now I'm doing quarterly instead (catch my first book quarter in May!) I've tried a lot of amazing products during this period and these are my top 15:

I've fallen head over heels for BYBI Beauty Boosters, I'm slowly working my way through the whole range. I highly rate Strawberry, CBD and Bakuchiol. See my reviews HERE and HERE.

I first tried Odylique's Award Winning Gentle Herb Shampoo* years ago and couldn't get on with the low foam. They very kindly sent me it again recently and I fell in love! See my review HERE.

Savon Stories Lotion Melt in Neroli, Mandarin & Lavender. A true bar of goodness. See my review HERE.

I fell head-over-heels for Zara's Perfume Collab with Jo Malone. The range is simply stunning and I can't wait to try more (there is now a sample set of the whole range and candles). See my review HERE.

I stumbled across Plenaire and Rose Jelly Gentle Make Up Remover was calling my name. See my review HERE.

I fell in love with this aromatic pot of goodness from Old Faithful. Their Makers' Balm Hand Balm is a true delight. See my review HERE.

I absolutely adore these beauties from Pure Anada at Live in the Light. They really do work - think glossy, shiny and cared for hair. See my review of Balancing Shampoo & Conditioner Bars* HERE.

REN's Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil* which you can pick up at Love Lula. My skin loves this Beauty Editor's favourite for glowy, plumped and smooth skin. See my review HERE.

Although quite pricey, this is a natural deodorant I'd buy again. I was kindly gifted JOIK's Lemon & Geranium Natural Mineral Deodorant* via the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program for review. It's now one of my favourite natural deos. See my review HERE.

REN's Citrus Limonum Hand Wash* has a beautiful lemon scent and gently cleanses the hands. See my review HERE. It's one I'll definitely replenish.

I fell head over heels for Croatian inspired Saint Iris Adriatica when I tried the range recently. I was very kindly gifted mini saints of Vitality Spritz* and Wake-up Droplets* which were my favourites in the range. See my review HERE.

I love Evolve's range - hard working with simple but stylish recyclable packaging. My skin has been loving their Liquid Radiance Glycolic Toner*. See my review HERE.

I love this smokey and woody perfume by ALLSAINTS - Incense City EdP which I picked up recently at Feel Unique. See my review HERE.

Bare & Bond Fragrance Subscription* is the perfect and innovative way to try a new perfume every month for a very affordable £14.95 for 8.5ml. 

See my reviews HERE* and HERE.

Rounding up my Top Products 2020 for the January to April period is my gorgeous Ffern Organic Small Batch Perfume for Spring 20. See my review HERE.

Do we share any favourites?

Monday, 27 April 2020

Naturisimo: Earth Day Exclusive Discovery Box

I can never resist a Naturisimo Discovery Box. I almost squealed out loud when I saw their latest one "Earth Day Discovery Box" contained a travel size of Odacite 552M Argan & Coconut Soap Free Shampoo Bar (35g) as it had been on my want-to-try-soon list (it's fabulous - leaves the hair so silky and soft). As expected, the box is now out-of-stock - you normally have to be so quick for these boxes as they are such great value. This one cost £18.95 and is worth £71!

It's such a great box! 

The orange scented creamy shampoo bar by Odacite is suitable for all hair types, creates a soft foamy lather and leaves the hair feeling clean, hydrated and silky. Expect a review for this one - it's lush!

I'm already a huge fan of BYBI Beauty boosters and their Bakuchiol Booster (15ml - worth £12) is great. See my review HERE.

It's been years since I've had PAI Skincare in my stash so I'm looking forward to re-acquainting myself with their Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil (10ml travel size which is worth £15).

(sorry the photo is a bit blurry) There's a 15ml tube of Tata Harper's Clarifying Cleanser which is foaming (and perfect for morning cleansing). This product is new to me and I'm looking forward to trying it.

The final item is a full size black Natural Definition Mascara from Alima Pure which is worth £20!

I think it's one of the best discovery boxes. Did you pick one up?

Sunday, 26 April 2020

*Blog Tour: Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin

*e-copy sent to me free of charge for review purposes. Today I'm rounding up the blog tour for the un-put-down-able Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin.

Berlin 2019. The 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the city is gearing up for a celebration of unity and liberation. But, beneath the surface, are those for whom the divisions and allegiances of the past remain close to home.

In her hushed and leafy corner of Berlin, Nina's life is a comfortable, conventional one - until her younger sister Marie, a free-spirited writer, is attacked and left for dead. For Nina, Marie's brutal demise - and that of her unborn child - tips her own carefully controlled life into a nightmare. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge, Nina begins to realise that her sister's past and the secrets of the once-divided city are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.

My thoughts?

The story is set around the 30th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and is a richly drawn story which I whizzed through. I loved the sisters, both different but with a seemingly unbreakable bond. 

Nina (the sensible one) is a doctor, with her own practice and is married with two children. Free spirited Marie lives in a run down block and is an artist/writer. Marie is attacked and left for dead and Nina feels her life is unraveling. Her husband doesn't seem to understand the devastation and grief she's going through and is very unsympathetic - he feels she should pull herself together and move on, thinking of him and their children.

Nina's daughter Bekka saw something happen which she believes is important and unable to reach her grieving mother tells her grandmother. Nina's mother is all to quick to react and lay blame.  Nina just can't take much more and tells Basti something which rocks his world... The story covers not just love, family and friendship but also bullying, eating disorders, domestic violence, secrets and lies. I was gripped from the very first page and truly recommend it.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

April: Lately I've Been Loving

With everyone getting used to lockdown and not getting out and about as normal I've found simple things have rocked my world in April. I celebrated quarantine birthday which turned out just as enjoyable as drinks and dinner out..

Read on to see what I've been loving:

A walk by the sea during my daily exercise is truly lovely.

Blossom! I can never get enough of it! It makes me smile.

Birthday cards mean so much! Friends know me so well...

A new (from July) personalised planner from Papier brings me so much joy. See my review of my previous one HERE. I find it absolutely perfect for blog planning.

Food orders from Root to Market, the brainchild of head chef at fhior restaurant to support the local supply chain and independent businesses during the pandemic have cheered up our month - you can order on a weekly basis (the fillet steaks are the best I've ever tasted - thanks Henderson Meat).

Happiness is... three new birthday gins! Thanks Gillian, Nardin and David! 

A little stock up of Botanic Dew Hand & Body Wash from Bodhi & Birch - see my review HERE. A personalised note from founder, Elijah always makes me smile!

My ffern Organic Small Batch Perfume Spring 20 arriving (it arrived later than planned due to bottles/tops coming from Barcelona). It was worth the wait - it's simply stunning! See my review HERE.

I stupidly (duh!) gave up my allotment in January. I've been nurturing some herbs on the windowsill. I definitely want to pick up some more when I can!

And rounding it all up - a stunning Portobello sunset! What have you been loving in April?