Tuesday, 30 June 2020

June Book Round-Up

Here's what I've been reading in June (books marked with * I've been kindly given by the publisher direct or via Netgalley).

*The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson - I loved this richly drawn tale set in Cornwall. I took part in the Blog Tour - see my review HERE.

The Curator by M W Craven - this was a long awaited read and thankfully, worth the wait! 

DI Stephanie Flynn is having a baby shower hosted by her sister. Poe didn't want to go but Tilly dragged him along anyhow. At the end of the party they are rushing back to Cumbria to assist DSI Jo Nightingale and her team. Three pairs of fingers have been discovered in different locations with #BSC6 beside them. They've got to quickly find out what that means.

The race is on to find the bodies and the reasons why these people died. It's a fast paced and edge of the seat read, it was always just one more chapter. As they piece together the case they find things that just don't make any sense...

What a page turner, my heart was truly in my mouth throughout and that ending. Just WOW. So very highly recommend this. Roll on book #4 is all I can say.

*From Venice with Love by Rosanna Ley - I took part in the blog tour for this magical read. See my review HERE.

*How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister - omg I was on the edge of my seat throughout this novel which drew my attention from the very first page. I absolutely loved it and it's my favourite read so far this year. Absolutely brilliant. I'm taking part in the blog tour next month so I'll share my review then (this is the one to pick up as it's truly gripping).

*The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff - A bittersweet coming of age tale set at the family's beautiful summer home by the sea where they indulge in the sunshine and summer traditions. We are not told if the narrator is male or female so the reader is let to come to their own conclusions. The author cleverly makes you feel as if you are there watching the summer unfold...

The same people are there year after year and this year they will be celebrating Hope and Mal's marriage. Distant relatives arrive from LA - the glorious Godden boys. Kit just mesmerises the narrator and so it seems a few of the others. He's just drop dead gorgeous while his brother Hugo seems angry and sullen. Kit changes everyone's lives that summer...

The narrator silently watches Kit, who toys will all of their emotions including that of his loved up sister, Mattie. It feels afterwards that Kit thought he could take whatever he wanted regardless of who he hurt along the way. I really enjoyed the story, which flowed easily. Would recommend.

*They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell This short novel is set in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic and we learn how it disturbs and changes the lives of the Morison family. It's told in three parts - from eight year old Bunny's perspective, to his older brother, Robert and his stern father, James.

I really warmed to Bunny during his chapters - he needs his mother's love and presence to make him feel safe. He absolutely adores her and this comes through in his part. Robert his brother had an accident and lost part of his leg - they quarrel as siblings do. The third part is told through the eyes of James, Elizabeth's husband.

The story is beautifully told with family, love, friendship, unhappiness, sadness, illness and grief. I really recommend it.

*When we Fall by Carolyn KirbyOnce I picked this book up I couldn't put it down. I was instantly drawn to the two brave and plucky women in the story. England 1943 and Pilot Vee Katchatourian is lost in the fog. She makes an emergency landing and meets RAF airman Stefan Bergel, who is gorgeous. Vee's smitten from that very first meeting.

Meanwhile in occupied Poland, Ewa Hartman serves German Officers in her father's guest house while secretly working for the Polish resistance on the side. She misses her lover, Stefan who is a POW or so she believes.

The story is based around the little known Katyn massacre and Stefan uses both women to his own ends and to help to enable the world to know the truth. Later in the book we find out the connection to the German Officer Beck. I loved the story although I found it bittersweet in places. It's a really good read.

*The Harpy by Megan Hunter - this isn't published until September so I'll share my review then. I read it in two sittings and I found it a compelling if slightly disturbing read. 

From last month (awaiting publication):

*Breakfast At Bronzefield by Sophie Campbell - Sophie very kindly gifted me a copy via netgalley. 

Sophie, a young black woman is remanded in custody after being charged with GBH involving Police Officers (she doesn't go into details of her crime) and is remanded in custody at HMP Bronzefield, the UK's largest women's prison.

The book is her story of her experiences of her time inside two women's prisons. She also shares facts and figures as well as her own thoughts on why prisons are failing on so many levels.

She's a fighter and due to poor family life she organised her own education including attending a fee paying school on a scholarship. She's desperate to take her education further although has to put it on hold inside as education for women falls short during her time in both prisons.

Like other real life prison books I've read you could really feel the tensions bubbling between the inmates and with the prison officers. I was slightly surprised at some of the things she did to get attention although she states she'd never do these things on the outside. On leaving prison she rebuilds her life by starting to study for a degree and buying her own house. Would recommend as it's an interesting read.

*Highland Fling by Sara Sheridan - Oh how I love this series! In this tale Mirabelle Bevan is on holiday with her fiance Superintendent Alan McGregor at his family home in the Scottish Highlands. It's 1958 and Britain is awash with Cold War anxiety. A break is just the thing they need. The Robertson's welcome them with open arms and are very hospitable.

When a body is found in the Orangery, Mirabelle is unable to stop herself getting involved in the case and what follows is a fast paced mystery which she's determined to solve. When another body turns up thoughts turn to an inside job making all the residents in the house very anxious.

She learns some things about Alan's past, meets an old friend from her previous working life and finally lays to rest anxious feelings about getting married. It was nice to see a more personal side to them both in this episode. As ever, I highly recommend. 

What have you been reading this month?

Monday, 29 June 2020

*Love Lula: Ooh! Oils of Heaven - Organic Plum Conditioning Face Oil

*received free of charge as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program - see my initial thoughts on the June Beauty Box* HERE. I've always been a fan of the beautiful Ooh! Oils of Heaven and did a spotlight on them way back in 2016 (although there have been a lot of additions to the range since then!)

I was very excited to see their latest launch, *Organic Plum Conditioning Face Oil 30ml (£19) in June's Beauty Box. 

The cold pressed oil has a high omega 9 content and is great for dry skins. I adore the marzipan-y scent of plum oil but know it won't be for everyone. The silky oil absorbs instantly leaving the skin feeling nourished and deeply hydrated. It's absolutely beautiful and would be perfect for summer months.

To use: apply 2-3 drops on cleansed skin. It can be used AM and PM or as a treatment. Pick yours up HEREWhat are your favourites from the range?

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Latest Buys:Balneaves, Melts Make Scents, Olfactory, Lovely Melts, Smelts & Melts, Winter Hill Wax, The Little Mcleans, Olaplex

I've gone a bit cray-crazy buying wax melts from various vendors this month! (wax melts orders mainly incur various postal charges).

I picked up a trio from Balneaves, Vetiver, Cedarwood & Fir (lush) had come back in stock so I had to try it! 

I also picked up a sample box (£5) from Melts Make Scents which gives you a selection of scents to try out. Inside this box I received - pina colada, fizztastic, midnight blooms, pink quartz, lunar eclipse and fairy laundry.

My first order from Campbeltown based Olfactory was MiSi melts which cost 75p each - these are great for try-me before going on to buy full size. I chose Black Orchid (just like the perfume of the same name with a lush rich scent), Freshly Squeezed Oranges which is again another highly scented summery melt which smells exactly like freshly squeezed orange juice. My third pick was Fresh Coffee which has a light coffee aroma (I'd have liked this to have been slightly stronger). Simone very kindly added two extras in the form of Perfectly Chantelle and Hope.

My second order was the fantastic The Laundry Box which is perfect if you love these fresh washing type scents. My favourite from the box is Pink Cashmere closely followed by Luxury Linen. I'd buy this box again for sure!

And of course I had to buy some more MiSi's! 

Simone kindly added a couple free of charge - Perfectly Chantelle again and lush Raspberry Slush. I bought Blue Coral & Sea Salt, Watermelon and Whisky by Fire (I'll let you know my thoughts in empty posts).

I've bought from Lovely Melts before and have enjoyed their wax previously. This time I picked Portofino Bay (like Tom Ford) and Lemon & White Rose (like Jo Loves). It's also nice to receive a free wee sample - this time - Cassis & Black Vanilla.

I spotted this beautiful Festival Vibes burner on Smelts & Melts so picked it up along with their #waxcident - broken pieces of wax or discontinued scents. I was expecting to get a few broken bits so was quite surprised to receive a mini wax bar which is nice enough but not a scent I'd choose - suppose that's the chance you take when you opt for a surprise!

My friend Sam was raving about Winter Hill Wax's Strawberry & Parsley so I picked up a snap bar of it and a Large Ring of Sandalwood Moss & Palo Santo. I've tried Strawberry & Parsley so far, and it's lovely.

I love the branding and packaging of the wax melt bars from The Little Mcleans. I picked up Simplicity & Duvet Day. I love the brown paper packaging and the little branded bag which comes with your order to store your melts in. These are lovely.

And yes, a final beauty item - OLAPLEX's new Hair Repair Trial Kit (I had a 15% off code). I've used No.3 both at home and at the hairdressers before so I was keen to try the others. 

What have you been buying this month?

Saturday, 27 June 2020

June: Lately I've Been Loving

Here's what I've been loving in June (if an item is marked * I've generously received it free of charge for review).

As soon as I got notification of the summer Cult Beauty goody bag I ran over. I decided not to #sadface but did pick up a treat in the form of Jo Loves's Discovery Collection (years ago this was available to buy on the Jo Loves website before it became part of a set). I'm already a fan of Jo by Jo LovesWhite Rose & Lemon Leaves (the first one I bought) and Pomelo (I'm now on my 3rd bottle of this!) Also inside the kit are four new to me ones: Pink Vetiver, Orange Butterflies, Rose Petal 25 and Green Orange & Coriander. I'm adding full size bottles of Pink Vetiver and Rose Petal 25 to my wishlist.

A selection of wax melts (and soap!) from my pal Sam, who is a fellow soy wax melt addict! We send each other parcels periodically which is so nice!

Dining at home deals - we've had some good 'uns this month - we especially have loved Aizle At Home. That little chocolate tart was to die for!

*I've been having scalp issues and this little bar of joy has really saved the day! See my review HERE.

I've gone over the score buying lots of soy wax melts - it really is an addiction haha. I received a gorgeous RAOK from Lauren at Facebook Group - Wax & Sniffs, Fun, Games & Chat. So kind!! 

I loved NorthburN's Gift of the Month - a beautiful set scented with juicy Mandarin & Bergamot - see my review HERE. I don't know how I lived without their beautiful Room Mists - I'll definitely be back for more!

I've also upped my reading game (at the beginning of lockdown I couldn't concentrate on anything). See my goodreads challenge HERE - which I'm hoping to smash this year! I'm currently reading this...

and this..

What have you been loving in June?

Friday, 26 June 2020

Palm of Feronia Samples

I'm unsure exactly where I came across Palm of Feronia (I think it was either in a magazine or on instagram). I picked up three samples from the range which are generous sizes ranging from 5ml to 60ml). They're the perfect try-me size or for holidays. The range is hand-blended in small batches by founder Sophia Harding in South east London. 

"Feronia is the ancient Roman goddess associated with wildlife, fertility, health, healing and abundance".

Each ingredient is carefully selected for sustainability and maximum therapeutic effects on the skin and the range is Vegan, Cruelty Free and natural and is focused on the ancient principles of aromatherapy and crystal healing.

I selected: Ritual Cleansing Oil (which has featured in Tatler mag) with Hemp, Douglas Fir & Clear Quartz (10ml sample - £4, full size 100ml £40, 30ml travel size £29). This purifying blend which moderates oil production and balances the skin. Clear Quartz promotes a strong connection to your true self, Tourmaline protects against negative energies while Aventurine encourages prosperity and perseverance. To use: warm a small amount in your palm, inhale before massaging onto the skin and remove with a warmed cloth. I've really enjoyed trying the Ritual Cleansing Oil as I felt it balanced my t-zone and turned cleansing into a real ritual (it also smells great!)  

My second pick was Moonstone Sleep Spray (10ml sample - £4, full size 100ml - £42, 30ml travel size £29) (also featured in Tatler) which I fell-head-over-heels for. This has something in it which just sends me to sleep - and it's not the lavender!) I'll definitely be re-purchasing this one. It's enriched with Organic Lavender oil which is a natural sedative along with Thyme oil which wards off nightmares, Organic Chamomile water aids sleep along with Petitgrain, Clary Sage & Bergamot which relax the mind and body. Amethyst is a natural tranquiliser which supports sleep by soothing the mind, Blue Lace Agate calms and encourages peace while Moonstone is said to soothe emotions and promote calm. To use: shake and spritz onto bedding just before you go to bed. As I said, I love this spray it totally calms and relaxes and helps me drop off to sleep.

The final sample size I picked was Grounding Bath & Body Elixir (10ml sample - £3, 100ml - £44, 30ml travel size £24) which has featured in Vogue mag. A nourishing oil which you can use in the bath or as a body oil. Formulated with Organic cold pressed Baobab Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Vitamin E with Orange, Vetiver and Cedarwood which ground, calm and uplift. The crystals are Citrine, the stone of abundance which brings happiness and joy, Rose Quartz for love and nourishment and Clear Quartz which protects against negativity and allows a connection with your true, higher self. To use: add to a bath or massage onto clean dry skin. 

I've been pretty impressed with the three samples I tried although Moonstone Sleep Spray has my heart! Have you tried any products from Palm of Feronia?

Thursday, 25 June 2020

*Blog Tour: From Venice With Love by Rosanna Ley

*I received an ARC copy from the publisher in order to take part in the Blog Tour. I simply loved From Venice with Love by Rosanna Ley.

With her marriage in danger of falling apart, Joanna returns home to the beautiful but dilapidated Mulberry Farm Cottage in rural Dorset, where her sister Harriet is struggling to keep the farm afloat and cope with their eccentric mother.

When Joanna discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic, written by a watercolourist named Emmy, she is intrigued and sets out to discover Emmy's true story. Emmy's letters take Joanna to the picturesque alleyways and bridges of Lisbon, Prague, and the most romantic place of all: Venice - where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.

Meanwhile, back at Mulberry Farm Cottage, a mysterious prowler adds to Harriet's problems and interrupts her search for a perfect partner. Will she ever find true love? Where will Emmy's mesmerising pathway lead? And more importantly, will Joanna and Harriet be able to rescue the cottage and finally be able to rediscover their sisterly bond?

My Thoughts? 

Joanna returns home to Mulberry Farm when she separates from her husband. She discovers a pile of love letters in the attic and is entranced by them. she wonders who the writer Emmy is and if she and her family are related to her or to the mysterious Rufus.

She's offered work writing some travel guides and decides to follow Emmy's footsteps to Venice, Lisbon and Prague to walk the bridges she mentions in her letters. Whilst there she sees some unexplained things and later finds a connection to the painting in her own bedroom at home. Meanwhile, Nicholas randomly picks up her Venice guide and is mesmerised by what he sees. Randomly he pens an email to Joanna and they begin to tentatively correspond.

Harriet, Joanna's sister is struggling with her life at the farm and their mother. Nothing she does seems to be right. She's envious of Joanna getting away from it all and having a life but she promised their father she'd look after her mother... but little does she know what excitement is round the corner for her!

I loved all the interwoven connections along with the historical aspects as well as the threads of the story coming together. The characters were great, I really warmed to them especially Joanna and Nicholas. I'd love Rosanna to write a follow up book so we can see where their lives take them. I absolutely loved the story. It's one of my favourites this year.

Pick yours up HERE.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

*Seatree Cosmetics 100% Natural Soap Range

*I was very kindly gifted some essential oil soaps from Seatree Cosmetics for review. I've been testing out three soaps in their range of 100% natural soaps. See the range HERE.

The family owned company formulate and handmake a range of essential oil soaps which are kind and nourishing to the skin with biodegradable/recyclable packaging. The soaps (there are currently 8 in the collection) are formulated with a high amount of glycerin which draws moisture to the skin keeping it soft and supple. Each soap is 120g (costs £5). Post and packaging is £3.50.

The soaps are free from palm oil, parabens, SLS, artificial colours & fragrance and petrochemicals and are made using the cold process method. 

Patchouli: has a earthy aromatic scent and helps to relieve pain and stimulate the growth of new cells as well as help in the fight against skin conditions. I enjoyed using this soap which has a light earthy scent and a creamy lather.

Bergamot: is light and uplifting and fights infection with it's anti-bacterial properties, alleviates pain, warms and relaxes. This soap has a whisper of bergamot and is a delight to use.

Sweet Orange: helps with insomnia, fights infection with its antibac properties and is fresh and fruity. 

I've really enjoyed trying out these beautiful aromatic and creamy soaps. Pick yours up HERE.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

*Kri Skincare: UNVEIL Oil-to-Milk Cleanser

*I was very kindly gifted Kri Skincare's latest launch. Founder Rupa very kindly sent me a bottle of their UNVEIL Oil-to-Milk Cleansing Oil (£22 - 100ml)* in the midst of early lockdown panic! It was a unexpected and lovely gift which I've been enjoying testing out.

The 99% organic fragrance free cleanser is presented in a glass pump bottle with simple but stylish branding. Formulated with organic oils of Camellia, Safflower & Grapeseed it's non clogging, lightweight and easily gets rid of make up and daily grime leaving the skin feeling clean and comfortable.

To use: apply 2-3 pumps onto dry skin massaging in before adding a little water to create a milky emulsion. Keep massaging before rinsing or remove with a warmed damp face cloth. 

My skin loves this beautiful lightweight and silky cleanser which makes short work of daily grime and make up. It really is lovely to use. 

Pick yours up HERE.

Monday, 22 June 2020

June Empties

I'm not going to use up anything else this month, so here are my June Empties. If a product is marked * I very kindly received it free of charge for review. I'm currently addicted to wax melts so I'm going to add these to my empties posts.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Body Buff 15ml, Brazilian 4 Play Moisturising Shower Cream Gel 90ml and Brazilian Bum Bum Cream 25ml - I'm obsessed with the bum bum cream and love the sweet vanilla scent. It was nice to try two other products in the range. I'd buy all three again.

*Wild & Precious Rose Water 01 100ml - a beautiful product from a gorgeous range. See my review HERE. I'd definitely buy this when my stash reduces.

*Bodhi & Birch Superfoods Series Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic 100ml - I adore this (and have just opened a new one). See my review HERE.

Bodhi & Birch Botanic Dew Hand & Body Wash 200ml - a great hand wash (which you can also use as a body wash). See my review HERE. I bought two of these at the beginning of lockdown but would buy it again for sure!

*REN Citrus Limonum Hand Wash 300ml - I simply loved this citrus scented hand wash and will buy again. I was quite sad when I finished it. See my review HERE.

Molton Brown Suede Orris Bath & Shower Gel 100ml - love Molton Brown's shower gels. This one was nice to use and I'd happily have it back in my stash.

*Oskia Eye Wonder Nutri-Active Eye Serum 10ml - I judged this award winner in the recent Beauty Shortlist Awards. It does everything it says it will and I must say I was very sorry to finish this up! It's on the wishlist.

System Professional Inessence Mask 15ml - which was nice to use but my hair needs a cut and colour right now (I was supposed to be there on 4th April so it's been a long time!) Might or might not buy.

Jurlique Nutri-Define Supreme Restorative Rich Cream 10ml - which was a Latest in Beauty pick. I loved using this at night time as it's super-rich. Would consider buying full size as my skin seemed to love it.

In May, I signed up to the Balneaves Wax Melt Subscription Box. See my thoughts on June's box HERE. Campbeltown based Olfactory is also new to me and I discovered them after connecting on instagram. Their Misi Melts cost only 75p (plus p&p) and are a great size to get the feel of a scent.

So this month I've used up: Olfactory - Black Orchid which is just like the perfume. A lush aromatic (and strong) melt which I loved. A full size purchase of this is on the cards! I also tried their Fresh Coffee, an aromatic blend of coffee with a hint of chocolate. This was lovely but I felt the "coffee" scent could have been a little bit stronger. My third use-up is their Perfectly Chantelle, another perfume inspired powdery floral (I wasn't so keen on this one).

From Balneaves: I adored Tuberose & Angelia, Black Raspberry & Vanilla, Rhubarb & Elderflower and Vetiver, Cedarwood & Fir. Dragon's Blood is a very heady melt which I found a bit overpowering.

What have you been using up this month?

Sunday, 21 June 2020

*Love Lula: Trilogy Vitamin C Skin Brightening Duo

*sent to me free of charge as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program for an honest review. I've a slight obsession with Vitamin C at the moment and have been testing out Trilogy's fantastic Limited Edition Vitamin C Brightening Duo Kit (£44.50 worth £55).

Inside the box is a cute branded bag, 12.5ml Vitamin C Booster Treatment  (6%) (which is two weeks supply) and a 50ml tube of their Vitamin C Moisturising Lotion. The NATURE certified duo is great to use before a big event to brighten and uplift dull and tired skin (use for 2 weeks AM and PM) or just because!

The Treatment is high potency Vitamin C and is fresh - press the top (you do need to press down quite hard to release) and the 6% Vitamin C pops into the Hyaluronic Acid Concentrate below which is enriched with daisy extract, rosehip and mandarin oils (shake and then insert the pipette). It's a "two week shortcut to radiance". Once the Vitamin C Booster Treatment is activated use a few drops twice a day for 2 consecutive weeks to uplift and give the skin a glowy radiance.  Follow with the moisturising lotion which helps to prolong radiance.

I've not quite finished the two weeks (and the moisturiser will last longer) but I've been pretty impressed with the duo. My skin is definitely looking brighter and more radiant. 

Have you used this kit? Do you think it's something you'd use?