Wednesday, 30 September 2020

September Book Round Up

Here's what I've been reading in September. If a book is marked * I've very kindly received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley or directly.

*The Italian Girls by Debbie Rix - The story is loosely based on real lives. In the story two very different women who find their lives intertwined even though they don't know each other in real life. The setting is Florence and Rome during WW2. Livia is a student and resistance fighter who takes risks every single day while actress, Isabella Bellucci has little to worry about apart from her unrequited love for the man of her dreams. The story traces their everyday lives and struggles in Nazi occupied Italy and is richly drawn.

The story also flips to the present when we meet elderly Livia living a quiet life in Florence. She has her routine and every day she goes to "their" cafe. It's there she reads something in the newspaper which takes her right back.. I loved the story and the characters, especially plucky Livia. I devoured the book in a couple of days. Would recommend.

*The Girl without a Name by Suzanne Goldring - this isn't published until November so I'll share my review in my November book round up. It's such a good read with characters I grew to care about. I loved it and would recommend (one of my favourite reads this year).

*Meet me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft - I so love Jenny's books and this one is so, so good. Madeline Bright meets Luke Devereaux on New Year's Eve 1913 in Bombay where she lives with her parents. The spark is instant. While he's away on business he leaves Maddy a guidebook with places where she'll see the real Bombay. Her mother & father's friend, Guy Bowen, who Maddy feels like is her older brother offers to show her around. She knows he has feelings for her but she could only ever imagine being his friend.

Luke and Maddy fall head-over-heels in love but war beckons and they just have time to get married before he's called away to lead a team of men into battle. She misses him so much. While he's away she finds out something quite wonderful is going to happen. She's desperate to tell him and for him to feel her joy. Sadly, a telegram quite quickly arrives which dashes all her future hopes.. Her mother, with whom she's got a strange relationship urges her to move on..

Meanwhile, in a hospital for injured soldiers is a man who doesn't know who he is. He just can't remember anything. He has hazy dreams of a beautiful woman who he feels meant the world to him. A chance visit by someone to the hospital jolts him to remember and he wonders if he'll be too late..

I fell totally head-over-heels for character and storylines. One of my favourite reads this year. I just loved it.

*The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex - this story is loosely based on a true story about three lighthouse keepers who disappeared mysteriously. I absolutely loved it. It's not published until next year so I'll share my review then. I highly recommend it. 

*The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline - I'm taking part in the blog tour for this book next month so I'll share my review then. I absolutely loved the storylines and characters.

Awaiting publication (read in June and July):

*The Harpy by Megan Hunter - Lucy thought she was happily married, being a homemaker and looking after their boys while her husband, Jake works to provide for them. Until that phone call, that is. The phone call which changes her world..

She finds out that he's been having an affair with an older colleague and between them they decide she can hurt him three times to get back at him and hopefully it'll even the scores and they can get their marriage back on an even keel. What follows is dark and very disturbing. Lucy's childhood fascination with harpies returns to the fore - mythical monsters which are half bird/half human which dish out punishment when needed.

She picks three ways to get back at Jake, each one more disturbing than the last. I found the story thought provoking and very dark. I thought the ending was too abrupt and slightly weird. I sort of enjoyed the book.

*Stolen Lives by Louise Hulland - Stolen Lives is a meticulously researched book on Human Trafficking and Slavery in the UK. The author has cleverly weaved facts alongside true life stories which makes for fascinating if sometimes heartbreaking reading.

Throughout the story we learn about a young Albanian girl, Elena who was duped by her then boyfriend into becoming a sex worker. She escaped and made it to London, pregnant and alone. The author has been at her side alongside the various organisations which offer their help freely to those in need during her often painful, heartbreaking and very stressful journey.

The book also makes you more aware aware of things happening everyday - are the girls in the nail bars working there because they enjoy the work? Likewise, I'll never drive past a car washing forecourt without thinking are these men victims of modern slavery. A sobering thought. A must read. 

What have you been reading this month?

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

fushi coconut & frangipani body wash

I picked up fushi's coconut & frangipani body wash (230ml - £10) from Naturisimo a little while ago. I love that it's housed in a glass bottle - so unusual with shower products.

The body wash has a gently exotic scent, lathers well and is nice to use. Key ingredients in the formulation include Gotu Kola, which heals and calms and Sweet Almond, Avocado and Sea Buckthorn oils which nourish and care for the skin.

To use: massage onto wet skin before rinsing. Follow with the matching body cream.

I've really enjoyed using this Vegan body wash which is certified organic by The Soil Association and it's one I'd buy again. What are your favourites from the brand?

Monday, 28 September 2020

September: Lately I've been loving

 So many September loves:

Going for lunch again to The White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar I just adore their Scotch Bonnet Smoked Salmon. I've enjoyed every small plate I've eaten here - there's also a decent wine list and the cocktails are fab.

My truly amazing subscription box from The Ghost Family Haunts - it really makes my heart sing - the attention to detail is incredible - amazing wax melts plus gorgeous art-work in the form of badges and prints. This is the wax sub to get!

I'm such a fan of Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. I'd accumulated voucher codes and beauty circle ££ and so the Sunshine Sol Kit jumped into my bag at Feel Unique. See my review HERE.

My Autumn20 bottle of perfume from Ffern which truly is incredible. I'm really enjoying this one. Expect a review on the blog early in October. It's love!

What have you been loving in September?

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Latest Buys: Witchy Wicks, Martha & Flo, The Ghost Family Haunts, Aromatherapy Associates, The Edinburgh Wax Co, Naturisimo, La Montana, Latest in Beauty & Soap Folk

Here's what I've been buying recently:

I've been really impressed with the 
Witchy Witch soy wax melts I've tried so far. I couldn't resist their Halloween Sample Bumper Pack (£21) recently which has samples of all the melts in the Halloween range!

I discovered Martha & Flo on Etsy and have bought a couple of bits. The little 'love lives here' hanging heart is exquisite and super cute (£6).

I picked up some spooky melts by the Ghost Family Flame at The Ghost Family Haunts - Sabrina - Pumpkin Bread, Myers - Baked Apple and Fright Night - Pumpkin Marshmallow Latte (£6) which smell gorgeous. I also picked up a clam (£4) of my fav Lyndhurst a deep apple scent topped with botanicals and magic!

Aromatherapy Associates have just brought out a new range which is the scent of optimism and entitled "Rose Reimagined" - Damask Rose, Geranium and Palmarosa - the scent really is exquisite. They are currently running an offer buy an item in the new range and get a free 50ml hand cream - be rude not to, one for me, one for my mother-in-law's Xmas! A review will follow (gorgeous)!

New-to-me scoopable wax (£6.50 each) from The Edinburgh Wax Co which is a blend of soy and coconut wax and coconut oil along with a range of scents (I've already tried the Rhubarb & Plum candle - gorgeous!). The scoopable wax comes in reusable or recyclable tins with a little wooden scoop. Review to come!

As you know I can never resist a 
Naturisimo Discovery Box and their recent "Most Wanted" was absolutely fantastic at only £19.95 - see my review HERE.

La Montana the maker of gorgeous Spanish inspired candles have introduced a fragrance discovery set (which is £10 with code until the end of the month). Such a brilliant invention and of course I now want to try all the candles (already love Winter Oranges). The little room mists 9 x 2.5ml give you a real feel of how the candles will smell. Fig Grove and Sacred Roses, you are first! 

Of course, a Latest in Beauty box is hard to resist. I'd been desperate to try Aromatherapy Associates Revive Shower Oil - and inside the box Stella Smart Beauty Awards Edit is a full size worth £26! The whole box as a LiB Box Pro member came in at £49.50 instead of £54 - so be rude not to (some bits inside are also for gifts).

Lovely Soap Folk offer a clever "All Kinds" Soap Offcuts box (£12.50) which have wonky edges, slight imperfections or rippled faces. Inside is a mix of sizes and scents. I'd wished on instagram that my box contain a piece of their newest soap - Spiced Apple - and it did!

What have you been buying lately?

Friday, 25 September 2020

*Skincare to Watch: Raven Botanicals

I first came across Raven Botanicals on social media and then their Skin Saviour Facial Oil (10ml) appeared in my Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box in July which I was delighted about.

Founders, formulator and sisters Arabella & Charlotte Harvey are the names behind the brand. They grew up in the Scottish Borders and have degrees in Fine Art & Botany. They started experimenting and researching ingredients and before long Raven Botanicals was born! The small batch range is ever evolving and growing and I've had the sheer delight of trying a few products from the range including Skin Saviour. 

The girls sent me a few bits to try:

Skin Saviour Facial Oil (mini £4.50, £24 - 30ml) has a beautiful golden orange hue which comes from the Sea Buckthorn berries which grow in abundance along the coast in East Lothian and which have a distinctive earthy scent. It gives the oil a richness and is perfect for anti-ageing. The oil is also formulated with skin loving and healing Rosehip, Organic Jojoba, softening Sweet Almond, anti-inflammatory Avocado and anti-oxidant Sunflower Seed & Vitamin E oils. The essential oils in the blend are regenerating Frankincense, calming Lavender, uplifting and nourishing Sweet Orange and balancing & brightening Geranium. 

The oil absorbs instantly and leaves the skin delicately scented, nourished, hydrated, balanced and glowy! To use: massage 2-6 drops into the face and neck AM and PM. My skin's been loving this precious oil which is part of a really special range of products.

I was also sent a 10g package of their gorgeous Eventide Rejuvenating Mask (£5, or £15 for 50g) which I got two generous uses from. This mask is ideal for dry, mature or sensitive skin types and is formulated with mineral rich French Pink Clay which draws out toxins as well as exfoliating, with Rosehip, boosting collagen and cell renewal as well as moisturising the skin. Hibiscus brightens while Gotu Kola protects against environmental stressors.

To use: activate the powder with a little water to form a paste. Apply to the skin avoiding eyes and lip area. Leaving on for 10 minutes before removing with a warmed damp cloth. 

I love how glowy and refreshed my skin looks after using this mask. I'll definitely be stocking up on the larger size!

The third item I've been trying from the range is the fantastic Skin Saviour Night Balm (£5.40 - 10ml, £18 - 30ml) which really is a pot of goodness! It'll care for your skin while you sleep, restoring, repairing and balancing. Awakening with nourished and renewed skin! 

The intensive balm is formulated with skin loving ingredients including Rosehip, Hazelnut, Sunflower and Argan oils, Beeswax, Vitamin E and a range of restoring and uplifting essential oils - Frankincense, Geranium Bourbon, Lavender Leaf and Neroli. It really is an absolute delight!

To use: warm a small amount on your fingertips before massaging onto the face and neck (any residue can be massaged into the hands and nails).

I've absolutely loved trying this trio, I think the brand's fantastic and I highly recommend it. Definitely one of my favourite new tries this year (all of the above will be purchased at some point!) Have you tried Raven Botanicals yet?

Thursday, 24 September 2020

My Must Haves: Naturopathica, Kiki Health, Sanctuary Spa, Kiss the Moon & Zing Organics

If an item is marked * I've generously received it free of charge for review purposes. These products are my must-haves (but not all on the same day as some of them contain similar ingredients):

naturopathica's CBD+ Unwind (30 capsules - £39.99)* I've been testing out these capsules and they really do what they say on the tin! Inside is 5mg of super concentrated full spectrum CBD which helps to relax and unwind and help you sleep. They are also formulated with Magnesium, Vit B1, Theanine and Chamomile.  I've found myself feeling less stressed and more chilled! Take one capsule a day.

I received KIKI Health's Magnesium Oil/Spray* 125ml in January's Love Lula Beauty Box. It increases the magnesium levels within the body. It helps with fatigue, muscle function and healthy teeth and bones. Spray onto the body morning and night and massage in (it does tingle slightly!) I've found it really helps an old knee injury of mine.

I simply love Sanctuary Spa's new wellness range. I reviewed two product in the range HERE. Their Calming CBD oil 45ml helps the body and mind relax and relieve stress - it's also got a gorgeous scent. Use it on pulse points for instant relief or in the shower or bath.

The whole Kiss the Moon range is simply exquisite. Their CALM After Dark Sleep Balm* is scented with exotic Jasmine and Ylang Ylang, grounding Sandalwood and soothing Roman chamomile. It helps you have more restful and deep sleep. See my review HERE.

Rounding up my must-haves is Zing Organics's gorgeous Fabacado Organic Hand & Body Butter in Softening Avocado, Wild Spruce, Frankincense & Lime 25g which is heaven in a jar! This rich skin loving butter melts instantly onto dry skin leaving it feeling comfortable and deeply nourished.

What are your must-haves? 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

*Green People: Nordic Roots Hyaluronic Booster Serum

 *sent to me free of charge for review as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger. Thanks also to Green People for the opportunity of trying out one of their latest launches.

Green People's Nordic Roots Hyaluronic Booster Serum (28ml - £27)* is part of the newest fragrance free launch (there are 3 other products in the range) which is inspired by Scandinavian's love of purity, simplicity and functionality. I love the simple but stylish packaging and how dewy my skin looks after application. It's certified COSMOS Natural by EcoCert.

The serum is white in colour and is presented in a pipette bottle. It absorbs instantly leaving the skin feeling comfortable and hydrated. Formulated with hydrating plant extracts which work with your natural p-H balance. Hop flowers target hyperpigmentation and age spots while Squalane is youth boosting. Also in the formulation is hydrating Glycerine and skin plumping Sodium Hyaluronate. 

To use: apply to the skin AM and PM after cleansing.

I've been really impressed with this serum (although I've not been using it for long). My skin is hydrated, plumped and more glowy. Have you tried anything from the Nordic Roots range yet?

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

*Toure Cosmetics: Lavender & Coconut Shea Butters

 *gifted products for review Founder, Djibril from Toure Cosmetics got in touch to see if I'd like to try his Shea Butters. He kindly sent me two samples - Lavender & Coconut. As a child he was fascinated by his father's jar of Shea Butter which had no label or brand name. This stayed with him as he sought to create something special for himself and us, the consumer. He works with Women's Cooperatives in West Africa who handmake the Vegan, Organic and Unrefined Shea Butter. You can buy it as it is (use as it is or for DIY projects) or scented versions - Lavender, Lemon and Coconut.

I've been testing out the Lavender and Coconut versions. Lavender combines the Shea Butter with natural lavender oil from the South of France (giving it a subtle Lavender aroma) while the Coconut version is blended with Organic Virgin Coconut Oil from Ghana (the butter has a distinct coconut aroma). Djibril works with local independent health shops in London and will also deliver your purchases by bike in the area and of course if you live further afield you can buy online.

I'm a huge fan of a multi-use product - use it on your face, body, feet, hair, lips, cuticles. It's also good for wound healing, after shaving and to soothe the skin after sunbathing. 

The butters are lovely to use, deeply nourish and delicately scent the skin. I highly recommend! Pick yours up HERE.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Naturisimo Most Wanted Discovery Box

 As you'll know I can never resist a Naturisimo Discovery box. I'm always looking to see if there's a new one! Imagine my delight when I spotted their Most Wanted Discovery Box. Create an account (new feature) and you can collect points which you can use against individual buys or save them up for a big spend - see HERE - they're also currently offering a £5 reward when you open an account!

Costing £19.95 and worth an incredible £92! WOW!

So what's inside:

Kosas Weightless Lip Colour in Rosewater 4g FULL SIZE worth £20

Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluronic Eye Complex 10ml FULL SIZE worth £16

ILIA Beauty Clean Line Gel Eyeliner in Twilight 0.4g FULL SIZE worth £24

Indie Lee CoQ10 Toner 10ml TRIAL SIZE worth £3.30

Caudalie Vinoperfect Dark Spot Correcting Moisturiser 15ml worth £10.20

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength 15ml worth £18.75

A great box, don't you think?

Sunday, 20 September 2020

September Empties

Marked* I've kindly been gifted a product for review. I'm not going to use anything else up so here are my September empties (a little bit early!)

I absolutely adore Noble Isle and their Summer Rising Bath & Shower gel 75ml which I first discovered in a Beauty Box (I've since bought their new Rhubarb Rhubarb! hand sanitiser which is fantastic - review on it's way). See my review HERE.

I received the NUXE 30ml reve de miel Melting Honey Body Balm as a Latest in Beauty pick. Lovely to use, buttery soft and deeply nourishing. Something I might pick up full size if my body product stash ever reduces.

I simply adore Avon Senses Zen Mandarin & Jasmine Hand Wash 250ml it's cheap as chips coming in at only a quid. I buy it again and again as I love its beautiful scent.

Evolve's Daily Apple Hair & Body Wash 250ml was gorgeous. Equally good for hair and body. See my review HERE. I'll definitely pick this one up again.

My mum had given me Method's Sunshine Bloom Hand Wash 354ml after me admiring hers in her bathroom. It was lovely to use with a nice sunshiney citrus scent! I've got my eye on their Rose Water and Tropical Cloud ones next!

*The Organic Pharmacy Peppermint Facial Wash 20ml which I received as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger. Lovely to use. See my mini review HERE. Definitely one I'll pick up when my gel cleanser stash reduces a bit.

balanceme's Flash Cleanse Micellar Water 30ml was fantastic. Very effective and gentle. It's on my to-buy list. Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying & Plumping Daily Serum 10ml was a Feel Unique My Beauty Kit pick. My skin loved this in summer. 

Award winning Omorovicza's Queen of Hungary Mist* which I tried again as a Beauty Shortlist Judge 2020 is the creme de la creme of face mists! See my thoughts HERE. I've just opened a mini from a Latest in Beauty Box.

My skin adored nknaturals Summer Copper Distilled Botanical Mist 50ml* and I was sad to finish this! I'm looking forward to buying Autumn's version on the equinox on 22 September! See my review of the whole Summer collection, which founder and formulator, Nicola kindly gifted me HERE.

My final empty is ooh! Oils of Heaven Organic Plum Conditioning Face Oil 30ml* which I received in the June Love Lula Beauty Box*, see HERE. I simply fell head-over-heels for this face oil - see HERE. I repurchased it during the spend £20 get one free offer. It'll always be in my stash.

What have you been using up in September?

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box: Sunset: September 2020

My Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box arrived the other day and it's absolutely fantastic! This month the theme is "Sunset" and inside are five products - one I've tried before, two brand new-to-me brands and two known to me brands but I've not tried the products in the box. How exciting!

WOW! The first item to jump out at me is Organic Works, a new-to-me brand. Inside is their Lavender Shower Gel (300ml - £12). It has a rich lather and feels silky on the skin with a gentle lavender aroma. I absolutely love it! A full review to come.

The second new-to-me brand (although I follow them on socials) is Fais Botanicals and inside is their cute Kiss It Lavender & Chamomile Lip & Skin Balm (15g - £8.50) which is great for lips, cuticles and dry patches. Again review to come.

I discovered Help Me Organics via my Skin Organics Clean Box and inside is their "it's way past my bedtime" candle (150g - £12) which smells glorious. I've been lighting candles again so this is great coming into autumn and for a restful night's sleep. A lovely addition to the box.

From Ezape Naturals is their latest launch (though they've been out a while now!) Lavender & Chamomile Bath Salts (250ml - £17). I adore bath salts so I'm looking forward to trying these.

Rounding up the box is a product I've tried before - NUORI's Vital Eye Cream (3ml - £11.95) which I loved.

It's a great box for me - I absolutely love it! Are you a subscriber? What are your thoughts?

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Zing Organics Subscription Club:September: Cute & Astute

It's always an exciting day when my Zing Organics Sustainable Subscription Club hamper arrives! I signed back up last month - see HERE. This is the box which keeps on giving! I'm still loving my August box one month on! It costs £29.50 a month including p&p with other special treats for members.

The theme this month is "cute & astute" and the products inside enhance spiritual awareness and help fire up your love life! 

This month we are treated to a Yogi's Crown Balancing Candle in Ginger Root with Lime with a burn time of 25hrs. In order to reduce waste the candle is supplied without a lid (but if you need one you can request it). It has a beautiful zingy and fresh scent (a special CO2 extract of ginger root is used - it's fizzy, vital and fresh) and I'm looking forward to burning it. September's just the time to enjoy candles again.

"Balancing the Crown Chakra allows for optimised 'knowing' and connection to spirit and the universe and a fortified nervous system. The essential oils have been selected as some of  those used over the annals of time to bring this chakra sited at the top of the head into alignment.  Ginger is magically also considered extremely powerful at igniting passion. The Crown Chakra is represented by the colour Violet. Mantra: Om".

Also inside is an Aromasoar solid perfume tin in Rosewood & Patchouli 5g which is formulated with beeswax and essential oils (there is an alternative product offered to Vegans). Rosewood restores equilibrium and is magically considered a potent aphrodisiac. It's combined with earthy and grounding Patchouli which is also considered sensual. 

The third item this month was two mouthwatering Vegan chocs by Violet Rose Vegan - the Salted Caramel one was especially good! (the other Chai & Maca). Again, an amazing box for me which truly makes my heart sing.