Sunday, 28 February 2021

February Book Round-Up

If a book is marked * I've very kindly received it from Netgalley or directly from the publisher or author. Here's what I've been reading in February:

*Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-RobinsonHaving loved Blood & Sugar I was happy to meet up again with plucky Caro Corsham. Captain Corsham is away on Government business in France and Caro is missing him badly. She meets a new friend Lucia, through her brother and she's bright and engaging. They arrange to meet up and Caro find her dying in the bowers of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and as she dies says to her "he knows". It turns out Lucia was not the lady she made out herself to be and the Constables wash their hands of their search for the murderer pretty quickly.

Caro can't let it go and employs a Thief Taker, Mr Child to help her investigate the case. What follows is a twisty and dangerous chase which puts Caro and Child in danger. The Men's Club close their ranks and The Whores Club seemingly disinterested in helping with any enquiries.

Caro puts herself in danger several times, finds out who she can trust and realises personally things cannot stay the same. I found I was totally engrossed in the story as well as the time and place. The story is so richly drawn and meticulously researched. I absolutely loved it. Go Caro!

*Circus of Wonder by Elizabeth MacNeal - I simply loved this magical book which totally drew me into the story. It's not published until May so I'll share my review in my May round-up (one of my favs so far this year).

*While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart - I'm taking part in the blog tour next week. This is the one you must-read. 

*The Rift by Rachel Lynch - I was very excited to get an early copy of Rachel Lynch's new book with an interesting character Major Helen Scott (I'm hoping this is the first in a new series). I loved it as much as a Detective Kelly Porter read! It's not published until April so I'll share my review in my April round-up.

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish - I really enjoyed this short spooky read. In the present day after her divorce, Hannah moves to Edinburgh for a new start. Her daughter is happy in Australia and she feels its her time. The story also slips into the late 1800s and I really enjoyed that atmospheric part of the story.

Hannah, a former teacher, starts working as a tour guide at Henderson Close, an old street which was covered up during the plague. She has to get into character even wearing clothes from that time. She loves her job but often feels there is a presence there with her when she's down on the close.

She makes friends with co-workers Mairead and George who also have had similar experiences to her. It seems they have to solve the murder of Miss Carmichael so her soul can be laid to rest and get the Auld De'il back where he belongs. I liked the time slips into the past which were gripping.  Would recommend.

*The Shadowy Third - Love, Letters and Elizabeth Bowen by Julia Parry - I'm taking part in the blog tour tomorrow so catch my review then!


I read *Patricia Gibney's fantastic Silent Voices - DI Lottie Parker #9 in December last year. February is publication month so here's my review now. What a gripping and fast paced read! Now we're at book 9 of the series and the cast have almost become like friends. Detective Lottie Parker and the Team are investigating the case of an unexplained death and it seems more complicated than it initially looked. Lottie and Boyd are getting married at the weekend and she hopes they can crack the case before then.

Rachel, a young entrepreneur who is in the process of setting up her own unique skincare line is found dead in her bed after a glitzy business reception at a new local restaurant. Her sister, who finds her is distraught. Lottie and the Team are immediately on the case and find something unusual on the body. As the investigation progresses another young woman, a gifted doctor is found murdered and it seems that the two cases are now connected. Did the women know each other? What is it that the Team are missing?
What does young girl Maddy know that she's not telling anyone and can they find out before something tragic happens to her? I say this every time but I think this is the best one yet. Twisty, gripping and brilliant. I totally loved it and couldn't put it down. 

What have you been reading this month?

Saturday, 27 February 2021

February: Lately I've Been Loving

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

Finally getting my fairy lights from Gibson's of Haddington into an empty rum bottle - such joy giving! 

I treated David (he was moaning about not getting anything in the post) to a selection box of brownies from Bad Brownie - they were delicious - and he shared! Will definitely use this co. again! (they offer 10% off your first order, just saying..)

Hot chocolate with marshmallows in a favourite mug - can't get much better than this!

Exploring more from Love Absolute isn't the reusable packaging and branding simply exquisite! Catch my recent review HERE.

I get most of Naturisimo's Discovery Boxes as they are such amazing value with gorgeous contents. Their latest entitled "Self-Love" definitely had the wow factor (and sold out in record time!) See my initial musings HERE.

What have you been loving this month?

Friday, 26 February 2021

Review: AWEN Healing Arts Flower Essences - AWEN Shimmering Soul

*Gifted product - Just before Christmas Ellie Rose from AWEN Healing Arts got in touch to see if I'd like to try and review any of her handmade essences from her Etsy shop. I chose the one which spoke to me the most. You can read about Ellie Rose HERE.

She sells a range of high quality, handcrafted essences which are made in small batches, with gratitude. AWEN Shimmering Soul 30ml (£8.95)* is formulated with Mimosa, Lilac and Elderflower essences with a rare Hummingbird essence which helps to shimmer within, be inspired and live with the awareness of possibility. She says "may you feel your innermost spark, dance and go for it!"

Lilac - purple lilac, an essence that encourages contact with the higher self, encourages inspiration and helps to lift the mood, to notice what's around you and helps you have a new lease of life. Elderflower - playful, joyful and embrace the moment. Take opportunities and awaken being in the moment. Mimosa - getting in touch with your feelings, grow in self-esteem, letting go of past hurts so you can notice your own soft, warm nature. Hummingbird - rare - an essence made with the blessings of the hummingbird. Reminds us to be a warrior of the heart with a passion for life. 

AWEN say its "ideal for those who want to reinvigorate their sense of inspiration, hope and love. This combination together create a synergy of energies that can help you direct your intentions, feel into your spark - what turns you on and makes you happy? Do little things with love, shake of the doldrums and feel inspired by the daily rituals of your life. If the weight of the world and depressive feelings have taken their toll, time to shake it off, reach into a different way of feeling, or an old way of feeling that you recognise as your Shimmering self. Whoever that is for you, call the flowers to remind you".

The essence was made over a summer in California, with hummingbirds darting into the sky and the lilac bush at dusk sweet smelling. It's designed to support, care, encourage self discovery and balance. If you fall in love, and can't not have this in your life Ellie Rose offers a recycling service with 40% off if you return your bottle to be refilled. 

To use: take 3-6 drops in water or direct when needed

I've found the essence easy to take (I normally take a few drops under my tongue). It supports and definitely makes things feel better - I've struggled a lot during this lockdown and this essence is my magic wand for feeling better. Check out the shop HERE.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

*Love Lula: Balm Balm Lavender Face Balm

*I receive the Love Lula Beauty Box complimentary as an Accredited Blogger. Balm Balm's fantastic Lavender Face Balm (30ml - £9.50)* came in January's Love Lula Beauty Box. I've been using it at night and my skin loves it (you can also use it as an AM moisturiser or on elbows and heels - I love a multi-purpose product!)

The balm is presented in a recyclable/reusable amber glass pot. I love it's simple and distinctive branding and the fact that it comes as it is with no excess outer box. The balm itself is rich and luxurious, melting easily between your fingertips with a calming and soothing Lavender aroma. 

Shea butter and skin loving oils are infused with Lavender essential oil. The aromatic balm will nurture, balance and soothe the skin as well as helping to boost the mood.

To use: rub a small amount between your fingertips until it turns to an oil and massage on the the face and neck (and any dry skin areas).

I absolutely love it - it's my current to-go-to just before bed. Are you a fan?

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Ffern Organic Small Batch Perfume: Winter 21

I've had my Ffern Winter 21 since the Solstice in December (21st) but hadn't got round to posting about it! I've been struggling to blog this year and I've found this lockdown really hard compared to the earlier one. Hopefully with spring around the corner I'll begin to buck up! (I also felt the need to post as the Equinox is approaching (20th March, and the delight of a new perfume). I've loved all the perfumes I've tried so far -  click the links for reviews - Winter 20Spring 20Summer 20 and Autumn 20.

Winter 21 is unisex, vegan, all natural, twice aged and bottled in Devon. Each bottle is numbered (mine's 265) and bears the names of the noses. As ever inside the box is a sample, try the sample if you love it, feel free to break the seal on the full size. So far, I've loved them all...

Winter 21 reflects on the Highlands in winter highlighting on the unique crisp air. Lemon, Eucalyptus, Peppermint & Lavender cool while herbaceous notes of Juniper, Black Pepper, Fir Balsam and Cedar give the evergreen edge. Oakmoss, Tarragon and Seaweed creates an earthy fresh aroma. Birch Tar gives the perfume a smokey peaty note. Spicy Cardamon, Clove Buds and a hint of Patchouli give the perfume a warmth.

"In the wilds of winter the mountain air sings"

The ingredients are blended in Italian grain vodka and water. With top notes of: Peppermint (Yakima Valley, Washington), Lemon Rind (Northern Sicily, Italy), Sweet Orange (Minas Gerais Orange Belt, Brazil), Bergamot Rind (Calabria, Italy), Clove Bud (NE Coast, Madagascar) and Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Yunnan Plateau, China). These notes are fresh, cooling and aromatic. With mid notes of: Cardamom (Alta Verapaz Cloud Forests, Guatemala), Lavender (Provence, France), Patchouli (Java, Indonesia), Vetiver Root (Les Cayes, Haiti), Balsam Fir (East of Calgary, Canada) and Red Cedar (Virginia, North America) which are spicy, woody and warming with a hint of evergreen. With base notes: Black Tang Seaweed (Brittany, France), Oakmoss (Samokov Hills, Macedonia), Tarragon Leaf (South, France), Red Juniper (Virginia, North America) and Birch Tar (North East, North America) which gives a distinctive smokey and spicy aroma.

As ever, it's a stunning interpretation which starts off fresh, citrus and light and develops as you wear it with the spicy and green notes quickly coming through before mellowing to aromatic peaty woods.  I love it! Are you on the ledger?

Sunday, 21 February 2021

February Empties

If  a product is marked * I've kindly been gifted it for review. Here's my February empties:

*Seatree Cosmetics Sweet Orange Handcrafted Soap - which was fresh and fruity and lovely to use. See my review HERE. I've got a stash of soaps to use up but I'd buy from this brand in future.

Huge love for NorthburN I received the Mandarin & Bergamot Room Mist 30ml which came in their Gift of the Month in June last year. The set also included a reed diffuser which I fell in love with. And so, I bought their Mandarin & Bergamot Refill Diffuser Oil 100ml which I've just used up also. Will definitely buy both again.

I adore Noble Isle. Summer Rising is one of my favourite scents. I received this 75ml Bath & Shower Gel one as a Latest in Beauty pick some months ago. Already got a replacement! See my review HERE.

Desavery were one of my discoveries as a Beauty Shortlist Judge last year. I fell hard! I finished up LIT! Daily Serum 10ml* see my review HERE. Everything from this brand is on my wishlist (I'm going to treat myself to STELLAR Daily Serum after payday!). A stunning brand with scents and formulas which make your heart and skin sing!

Antipodes Kiwi Seed Gold Luminous Eye Cream 3ml is simply stunning. I got multiple uses out this sachet and full size is firmly on the wishlist (Love Lula have sachets available to buy with an order of £10+ if you're interested). 

Upcircle sachets which I received in my Mint Green February Starter Kit. See my initial musings HERE. I've used their Facial Serum 1.5ml before and that's firmly on the to-buy list. Also in the pack were their Face Toner 3ml (love), Face Moisturiser 3ml (love) and Cleansing Face Balm 3ml (not for me as the tea tree scent is too strong - such a shame as it's got a lovely texture and feel on the skin). It's a great wee try me set though. 

I adore ECooking's Cleansing Gel 50ml which I reviewed HERE. I've got another of these in my stash but it's one I'll buy again.

Micheline Arcier Aromatherapie's Richesse D'Or Body Oil 100ml* was an absolute delight. I'm gutted at having finished it up. See my review HERE. A truly sublime product which is good for the body and the soul. On my wishlist!

Jo Malone Lime, Basil & Mandarin Body Lotion 100ml which I received from my lovely friend Julie for my birthday one year. Who doesn't love Jo Malone scents! A classic and sublime layered with Grapefruit cologne. Heaven in a bottle - I was sad to use this up.

REN Citrus Limonum Hand Wash 300ml which is one of my favourite hand washes. It'll definitely be bought again and again. See my review HERE.

Noble Isle Tea Rose Bath & Shower Gel 75ml which is a sublimely rosey scented wash. See my review HERE. Likely will buy again at some point!

Rounding up my February empties is Zing Organics's Love you Forever Body Oil 25ml which came in my November Subscription Box. Lovely!

What have you been using up this month?

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Naturisimo Self Love Discovery Box

You've got to be quick when a Naturisimo Discovery Box lands. This latest one entitled "Self Love" sold out in record time! It's carefully curated and worth £90/cost £20 plus p&p. Of course a full size RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek is always going to excite. I was especially interested in the little deluxe pots from Lola's Apothecary and Susanne Kaufmann.

The set is presented in a reusable box which is tied with a "Naturisimo" branded ribbon. You also get 10% off the product you fall in love with.

And for a closer look..


It really is a stunning selection!

There's a full size RMS Beauty lip2cheek in lost angel (4.82g - £34) which is a very pretty shade. It's fairly neutral on my lips so I'm hoping it gives a pop of colour to my cheeks.

I'm totally smitten with Susanne Kauffmann's Restorative Toning Body Cream (15ml - £13). It's just a shame a full size pot comes in at £130, even with the discount that's ouchy! It's great to be able to try it however.

Balancing Body Polish in Delicate Romance from Lola's Apothecary looks and absolute delight. Inside is a 15ml (£12). Full size is £33, while in the luxury category definitely affordable for a treat. I've used the matching Body Souffle which is dreamy. See my review HERE.

Can't go wrong with some Tata! Inside is a luxurious 10ml of their Hyaluronic Gel Moisturiser (£20). Full size is £101. So this is a lovely treat. A review to come! I've always been intrigued by 100% Pure's Bright Eyes Mask and inside is a pair which costs £6.

Rounding up the box is a sweet Bamford Geranium Pebble Soap Mini 40g (£4). I've used these before and they're absolutely gorgeous, pampering with a creamy and luxe scented lather.

Did you pick up a box? What are your thoughts on the contents?

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Mint Green February Starter Kit

I came across Mint Green on Instagram and went to explore the site which stocks green beauty brands such as Anatome, French Girl Organics, Grown Alchemist, Lena Wild and Plenaire, to name a few. You'll find Vegan, Organic, Natural & Recyclable brands nestling on the online shelves which have been hand picked by the founders. The box your order is packaged in is easily recycled or reusable and the mailing bag is made from corn starch which is compostible (and you'll also get 10% off your first order).

I picked the February Starter Kit, which is worth over £70 and costs £14.99 plus p&p. Inside are nine brands with five that are new to me.

And for a closer look..

BeYou Monthly Patches x 5 (£7.99) (Vegan, Natural, Organic, Recyclable) - this is a new to me brand and the patches can be used instead of a hot water bottle to relieve everyday pains such as period pains and other niggling pains on the body. They're 100% natural and are made from fast acting steam distilled eucalyptus and peppermint derived menthol oils which create a unique cooling tingle and provide up to 12 hours of relief. Looking forward to testing them out!

EcoLiving The Environmental Toothbrush (£2.90) (Vegan) - the whole toothbrush is plant based - bristle, handle and box!

Bondi Wash Fruit & Vege Wash 50ml (Vegan, Natural, Recyclable) - this is not something I'd use but it's an interesting concept! It'll remove bacteria, chemicals, waxes and pesticides from fruit and vegetables.

Doers of London is a new to me brand and inside is their "It starts at the Top" Shampoo 50ml (Vegan, Natural, Recyclable) - this has a creamy texture and will balance and clean the hair. Looking forward to trying it.

Another new to me brand (although I've heard of it) is L:A Bruket Hand & Body Wash Sage/Rosemary/Lavender 60ml (Vegan) which has an intense herbal aroma. It'll leave the skin clean and hydrated.

There are 3 sachets from Goldfaden MD Doctors Scrub 5ml, Bright Eyes 3ml (used this before and loved) and Vital Boost 5ml (Vegan, Natural, Recyclable) - a polish, a moisturiser and an eye cream which help to enliven and brighten. 

Also inside is a Pamper Kit from UpCircle (I've used their Facial Serum 1.5ml before and my skin loved it), the others in the kit are new to me - Cleansing Face Balm 3ml, Face Moisturiser 3ml and Face Toner 3ml (Vegan, Natural, Recyclable). The Pamper kit is designed as a try-me.

Rounding up the kit is Dr Lipp CBD Calm Balm 4ml (Natural) which can be used on dry patches. It contains 50MG of broad spectrum CBD which calms and soothes.

The final item in the set is full size! Inside is Q+A Peptide Serum 30ml (£9) (Vegan, Natural) which regenerates and helps to keep your skin looking youthful. I'm looking forward to trying this out!

It's a great kit and excellent value for money (I also love trying new to me brands & products) Have you bought anything from Mint Green lately?

Monday, 15 February 2021

*Love Lula Beauty Box: February 2021

*I receive the Love Lula Beauty Box free of charge as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program. February's Love Lula Beauty Box is worth £39 (box in the UK costs £14.95 recurring, see all the options HERE). This month there's a beautiful Bass Brush inside! Also inside is a product I've been wanting to try (squeals).

The item which first caught my eye was the BASS Brush - Bio-Flex Style & Detangle Brush (£15.99). The handle is made of corn starch with premium natural wood pins. A great and different addition to the box.

The item inside this month's box which was on my to-try list is Naturtint's Nourishing 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner Bar (75g - £12.99). This actual one had been on my wishlist! It smells of honey... mmm. A review to come.

Moving on, also inside is a duo from Sukin - Natural Balance Shampoo & Conditioner for Normal Hair - both 50ml. These are ideal try me sizes or for travel. My hair is dry and coloured so it's likely I'll be passing these on.

Rounding up the box is a Woobamboo medium toothbrush which is natural and biodegradable (£4.49) and this comes along with a mini Bubble Berry toothpaste (14g). Again, it's nice to see something different in a beauty box.

Are you a subscriber? What's your thoughts on the contents this month?

Sunday, 14 February 2021

*Love Lula: LOVE: Dr Hauschka Rose Nurturing Bath Essence & Body Cream

*Sent to me as part of the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program for an honest review. Last month I decided to pick items which loosely fitted around a "theme" and chose items which helped me SLEEP - see HERE. With Valentines Day in February, and today, my theme had to be LOVE and Roses.

This sumptuous duo smell deeply of roses and are a joy to use. I first tried the Body Cream when it appeared in the Dr Hauschka Advent Calendar* and fell in love! (I received the calendar partly though the Love Lula Accredited Blogger Program - see my thoughts on the calendar HEREHERE and HERE).

The Rose Nurturing Bath Essence (£18.50 - 100ml)* is presented in a glass bottle which is easily recyclable or reusable. The essence itself is rich and creamy and formulated with skin loving oils and has a delectable scent of roses. Inside each bottle is a blend of rose oil, rose petal extract and rose flower water.

To use: add up to three capfuls to a running bath, jump in and relax (you can also use it in water as a facial rinse after cleansing or to bring summer to any room by adding a few drops to a bowl of warm water). 

It's perfect to use before date night or as a pampering treat. Follow with the rich and delicious (it smells of rose Turkish delight) Rose Nurturing Body Cream (£27 - 145ml)* which is intensely hydrating. It's formulated with rose wax, rose essential oil, wild rosehip extract, rose petals, shea butter, jojoba and almond oils. Skin is left nourished and smelling deeply of roses.

To use: apply over the body and massage into your skin

I've loved trying this duo which are great mood enhancers and perfect to get you in the mood for love!

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Silvan Skincare: Balance Face Cream

I was very excited to see Silvan Skincare's newest launches arrive at Love Lula - a beautiful range of Face Creams. I had to pick one up and chose the one which I thought would be most suited to my skin type (combo) - Balance Face Cream 50ml (£23) which is presented in an easily recyclable/reusable pot (I bought this product myself).

The cream inside has a lovely fluffy texture and a delicious scent. I normally find products for combo/oily skins use essential oils I'm not keen on so top marks already! 

The cream is formulated with Rosehip Oil which is a great source of Vitamin A and perfect for many skin concerns including plumping fine lines and wrinkles. Safflower Oil is a rich source of Essential Fatty Acids and is perfect for oily skin and reducing large pores. Ylang Ylang, as well as smelling exotic, balances and helps skins prone to breakouts. Patchouli is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, can tighten open pores and calm and Vitamin E is a great antioxidant.

To use: apply a small amount to the face and neck after cleansing

I've only been using the cream a short while but find it helps with t-zone shine and spots, balancing as well as nourishing. I like this a lot. Have you tried any of the new face creams yet?

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Latest Buys: Silvan Skincare, Ben & Anna's, Marley's Amsterdam, Bee Good, Feel Unique's Beauty Kit, Lovely Melts, Nicki's Aromatics, Herbs for Healing

I know, I know, I said I was having a leaner February. Things which have kept me going is having a few online spends! The way I look at it I'm not going into town shopping or going to work so have a little more free cash! Plus it makes me happy.

I took advantage of Love Lula's recent 10% off a £40 spend (I also had a fiver's worth of points). I'd spotted Silvan Skincare's new line of face creams and their Balance Face Cream spoke to me! It's formulated for oily and combo skins (and smells of exotic Ylang Ylang. I can see it's going to be a firm favourite (review to come). I'd never tried one of Ben & Anna's cardboard tubes of natural deodorant before so picked up one in their Persian Lime scent (I'm having a few issues with the tube - which I think could be slightly modified) but the product is superb (again, a review to come). The third item I bought is new brand at Love Lula - Marley's Amsterdam Sustainable Shampoo Beer & Incense - these are shampoo flakes which you mix with water to create shampoo & packaged in easily recyclable packaging. Genius! 

A friend on instagram asked for a recommendation of a new exfoliator. I suggested Bee Good, as I'd always enjoyed their one, you know the drill, I spotted their Hand & Body Wash with Warm Fig & Vanilla and had to snap one up! It's absolutely beautiful and has a scent which lingers, the wash lathers well, feels silky and leaves the body and hands refreshed and clean. I like this a lot.

I hadn't had a Beauty Kit from Feel Unique for ages. They were offering it for £9.95 plus p&p (instead of £12.95 plus p&p) for a limited period and so I jumped right in there. Really pleased with my picks! You also get the postage back as a voucher code for your next purchase which makes the kit excellent value (the trial sizes are a good size). I chose a duo from Kerastase, a generous Medik8 mini, Clinique's cult Take the Day off and a new Caudalie cream.

I picked up a handful of melts from Lovely Melts and the Sanctuary Orange one is identical to the evocative aroma of The Sanctuary products - it's absolutely lovely.

A little return order for Nicki's Aromatics Soy Wax Melts which are gorgeous! See the shop which is Glasgow based HERE. The melts (and candles) are lovingly hand poured using essential oils and soy wax.

The power of socials! I spotted Herbs for Healing on Saskia's Flower Essences instagram and went to investigate. I spotted the lovely collab and had to have one! It smells instantly relaxing and I'm looking forward to trying the Herbs for Healing Bath Oil with Saskia's Breathe Deep Seek Peace Flower Essence. Look out for that review!  

What have you been buying lately?