Friday, 30 April 2021

April Book Round-Up

Here's what I've been reading in April. If a book is marked * I've very kindly received it from the publisher via Netgalley. 

The Beauty of Impossible Things by Rachel Donohue* - I loved this richly drawn tale which isn't published until next month. I'll share my review in my May Book Round-Up.

Raven Black - Shetland Island #1 by Ann Cleeves - having loved Quick Read "Too Good to Be True" featuring Detective Jimmy Perez I knew I wanted to pick up the Shetland Island series. Raven Black is the first in the series and Perez is on the scene when the body of a young woman called Catherine Ross is found. All fingers point to local loner, Magnus Tait who lives alone nearby with his caged pet raven. 

Detective Jimmy Perez feels that his colleague from Inverness, DI Roy Taylor is too quick to jump to conclusions and feels there's more to this case than it being an open and shut case. All thoughts go to the missing Catriona Bruce whose body was never found - is there a connection?

I found the characters interesting - especially liking the Detective as well as the Shetland landscape. The story has a twist I didn't see coming. A great read which I would recommend.

Twisted Lies DI Kim Stone #14 by Angela Marsons* - another un-put-downable read. It's not published until next month, so I'll share my review then.

White Nights - Shetland Island #2 by Ann Cleeves - the second book in the Shetland Island series is set near to the Summer Solstice when it never really gets dark on the island. This story is set in the small hamlet of Biddista where all it's residents know each other inside out...

Detective Perez's new friend Fran is showing her art work in an exhibition with renowned artist, Bella Sinclair. Bella has invited her world famous fiddler nephew to lighten the evening with a performance. A stranger appears in their midst and seems to take some sort of fit - what's his connection to the island and why was he encouraging people to believe that the exhibition was cancelled?

When a body is found hanging in the community shed it's believed to be suicide. Detective Jimmy Perez is soon forced to call in the team from Inverness. It's a twisty tale with again, a twist I didn't see coming. Would recommend.

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold* - I took part in the blog tour for this fab read. See my review HERE.

Watch her Fall by Erin Kelly* - Prima Ballerina, Ava Kirilova is at the top of her career at the London Russian Ballet Company. She's been training her whole life for the coveted roles of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake. Since the age of 12 her father, the great Nikolai Kirilova has guided and moulded her to become the very best...but someone wants what she has and will do almost anything to make it happen...

The story moves to the fate of Juliet, a dancer recovering from a career ending fall. How will she survive? The company has looked after her since she was a child and now she's cast aside. Other characters enter at this point which makes the story deliciously twisty. It's a story of obsession, ambition, control and is truly un-put-downable. I highly recommend it.

The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan* - I absolutely loved this book which made me cry - happy as well as sad tears. I'm taking part in the blog tour next week so catch my review then.

Previous reads (which were awaiting publication when I read them):

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan* - I read this way back in November last year. It published yesterday. The setting is Illmarsh, a sleepy forgotten seaside town. A farmer calls the police when he and his daughter find something unexplained and quite gruesome on his land.  Detective Alec Nicols is first on the scene and what he finds there gets him urgently requesting forensic veterinary help. When Cooper tips up he's surprised as he wasn't expecting a female.

The investigation turns to why someone could do such a thing and if "16" could have meaning to someone. They uncover crimes across the community - unexplained disappearances, arson, mutilations and desperate cruelty. Can they really believe the words of a local hermit who says he saw it all...

The story is twisty and dark but compelling - there's something which urges you to read on. The characters are multi-layered and I felt I never really knew any of them. When I wasn't reading the book I was mulling it over in my mind, which for me is the sign of a good read. Would recommend.

The Rift by Rachel Lynch* - I was very excited to be asked to be an early reader of The Rift. I'm a huge fan of Rachel's DI Kelly Porter series so I couldn't wait to read something new from her. 

Major Helen Scott of the Royal Military Police is sent on a posting to Paris to take charge of the security for the British Ambassador, Sir Conrad Temple-Gray at the forthcoming NATO summit at the Palace of Versailles. She's to work closely with the Americans and she comes across a couple of people from her past - one with whom she shares some precious, if heartbreaking memories.

Before she's had time to bed into the job she's sent to head up an Interpol investigation into the kidnapping of oil magnate, Khalil Dalmani's son. She's got to find out who is behind it and why as well as finding him safe. Could his ex-friend and rival, Fawaz bin Nabil be behind it? And what life changing incident has he never got over from?

The Ambassador of course wants her to do some digging into the pair's background while she's at it She uncovers more than they expected and she's able to experience closure and new beginnings. Absolutely brilliant with twisty storylines and interesting characters. I especially loved Helen. Thanks so much for the opportunity to be a first reader. - I've got my fingers crossed this is the start of a new series!

What have you been reading this month?

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

April: Lately I've Been Loving

Here are my April loves (getting back to the shops yesterday was such a thrill!)

Blossom season brings me so much joy! As well as sunny skies and sunshine. 

My first Cult Beauty order since December! I couldn't resist their The Sunshine Edit which is worth over £135 and can be snapped up for £40 (at time of writing it's still available). I'll review the items inside soon. 

I've been having a lot of random Naturisimo splurges which bring untold joy. I can never resist a new fushi product (their Bringer of Peace Herbal Body Wash) and Neom's rather wonderful Great Day Magnesium Body Butter. Both are brilliant and reviews to come!

David treated me to a rather amazing Afternoon tea from the Waldorf Astoria with fizz for my birthday which was quite wonderful. It was the Blooms and Flowers edition and totally delicious (the current one running is Edinburgh Zoo and is available until 30 June). A gorgeous treat.

Staying on the birthday theme David gave me a huge surprise pressie. I've always lusted after a Hotel Chocolat The Velvitiser since we gave it to my dad for his 80th and I can confirm it makes the very best Hot Chocolate at Home.

I'd not had a The Perfume Society Discovery Box for ages. I used birthday money to pick up their The Indulgence Discovery Box which contains 14 perfumes of various sizes from vials to mini bottles and a Ruth Mastenbrook mini candle. Such a treat. 

Popping to the local shops again - so good (although our great greengrocers, Root Down has been open throughout). In Scotland, the shops opened again on the 26th April. I picked up the Sun Salutation Yogi Tea with Cinnamon, Cardamom & Orange (which is delicious - I might need to go back for more!) and asparagus from Root Down Portobello, stationery items and the free Booktime mag from The Portobello Bookshop (I'm already a huge fan of these particular Rifle Paper Co notebooks) and a little Gisela Graham decorative item from Two Sisters Portobello which is the place to go for large and small gifts.

What have you been loving this month?

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

April Empties

If a product is marked * I was gifted it for review purposes. Here is my April empties. I've actually got through quite a lot this month!

I love Bamford Pebble Soaps, this one came in a recent Naturisimo Discovery Kit. Lovely to use with a rich and creamy lather and aromatic scent. Always on the wishlist.

I received Odacite's CaR Vital Glow Wild Carrot Serum Concentrate vial in my Naturisimo Glow Starter Kit. I shared my musings HERE. Nice to use but a small sample, might or might now splurge on full size.

Crushing Blooms EdP by Tom Daxon 4.5ml which was nice to use but not one of my favourites from the range. See my post on the 13 vial collection HERE.

Molton Brown Flora Luminare EdT 1.5ml I really enjoyed using this floral perfume. Full size's on the wishlist!

Antipodes Kiwi Seed Gold Luminous Eye Cream 3ml I got about a week's worth of use from this little sachet AM and PM which gives enough use to weigh up whether you like an eye cream or no. This one's on my wishlist!

So much love for Raven Botanicals I tried their Award Winning Spellbind CBD Bakuchiol Serum* as a beauty shortlist judge and fell head-over-heels. A review is upcoming for this and the rest of my Beauty Shortlist Top Picks. I've since bought another!

Huge love for Bodhi & Birch, their Award winning Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic is just fantastic. See my review HERE. I've just cracked open a full size I've been hoarding. Absolutely gorgeous!

L:A Bruket's Hand & Body Wash mini came in the February Mint Green Starter Set - see HERE. I loved it's uplifting and awakening herbal aroma. It's one I'd buy full size. 

An old favourite is REN's Atlantic Kelp & Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash 50ml which I picked up in Feel Unique's My Beauty Kit. Would buy again.

I fell head-over-heels for Bee Good's almost edible Warm Vanilla & Fig Hand & Body Wash 250ml which was a delight to use. Will definitely repurchase at some point as its lovely.

I've since bought Organic Work's zesty and uplifting Bergamot Hand Wash*. See my review HERE.

ila spa's The Big Sleep Drops are absolutely fantastic. I'm sure to buy them again. See my review HERE.

I found a sachet of Sol de Janiero's Coco Cabana Cream in my samples drawer. It has a gel type texture and a very sweet coconut scent. I'd love to buy this for summer.

I have loved everything I've tried from Tam Mason. The Bergamot & Blood Orange Nourishing Sugar Hand Scrub mini came in the A Handpicked Selection Box which I reviewed HERE.

I've been enjoying a soak in the bath lately and I especially liked Epic Blend's Coconut Soaking Salts, Westlab's SLEEP Salts* (Review) and Mythyn's Melusine Silk Soak Skin Hydrating Bath Potion. I'd be happy to use all of these again.

What have you been using up this month?

Sunday, 25 April 2021

*Blog Tour: On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

Today I'm on the blog tour for On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold. 

Thorn Marsh was raised in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half-finished sentences. Now she's a journalist with a passion for truth, more devoted to her work at the London Journal than she ever was to her ex-husband.

When the newspaper is bought by media giant The Goring Group, who value sales figures over fact-checking, Thorn openly questions their methods, and promptly finds herself moved from the news desk to the midweek supplement, reporting heart-warming stories for their new segment, The Bright Side, a job to which she is spectacularly unsuited.

On a final warning and with no heart-warming news in sight, a desperate Thorn fabricates a good-news story of her own. The story, centred on an angelic apparition on Hampstead Heath, goes viral. Caught between her principles and her ambitions, Thorn goes in search of the truth behind her creation, only to find the answers locked away in the unconscious mind of a stranger.

About the Author:

Marika Cobbold was born with newspaper ink flowing through her veins. She used to visit her father and grandfather at their offices at the Gothenburgh-Post, the Swedish broadsheet her grandfather had rescued from oblivion decades earlier. At home, when Marika wasn't reading, she listened as the grown ups around her discussed the issues of the day, and to the stories told by her mother and great aunt, who was a writer.

She left Sweden for England when she was nineteen, with vague plans of studying law, but eventually what her grandfather called 'the family curse' caught up with her, and some years later she wrote her first novel, Guppies For Tea. She has been writing ever since.

My thoughts?

Journalist, Thorn Marsh is the long standing news editor at The London Journal. Changes come when the paper is bought over and Thorn's moved over to the light hearted midweek supplement - London Living to edit "the bright side" page. This involves her writing true to life, heartwarming tales about the everyday Londoner. 

She's absolutely devastated to lose the job which has defined her and calls on her ex-husband for support. They have a few drinks and he tells her about something he saw on Hampstead Heath which he captured on film. A little drunk and with some embellishments on Thorn's part, the story takes wings and goes viral overnight...

What follows in the aftermath is her understanding of a lot of things including her mother's distance, how much her neighbour and her little dog mean to her as well as, discovering who the stranger is. It's a heartwarming story laced with lots of humour, friendships, family secrets, sadness and new beginnings. An absolute gem. I loved it.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Naturisimo: Glow Starter Kit

As you'll know I'm pretty obsessed by Naturisimo's Starter Kits having reviewed their Moisturisers one HERE and Night Care Starter Kit HERE. I was buying a late birthday gift for a friend who's birthday is in April like me (we're hoping to catch up soon!) and so, I had to pick something for me too - I chose the Glow Starter Kit £17 (worth £32). 

You also get 10% off a product in the kit if you find there's something there you can't live without. Naturisimo also slipped in a free sample sachet of Susanne Kaufmann's Body Butter, which of course I now need full size!

The kit comes in a branded re-usable Naturisimo cotton bag and inside the GLOW Starter Kit is:

3 x 1ml sachets Josh Rosebrook Herbal Infusion Oil 

3 x 1ml sachets Tata Harper Elixir Vitae Eye Serum

Odacite Vital Glow Wild Carrot Serum Concentrate 0.6ml

Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil 10ml 

Leahlani Skincare Meli Glow Illuminating Nectar Mask 7ml

Caudalie Vinoperfect Dark Spot Correcting Moisturiser 15ml

Pick your kit up HERE.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

*Tam Mason: Rosa Damascena Sugar Body Scrub

*PR Sample - AD Having loved Tam Mason's Nourishing Sugar Hand Scrubs (REVIEW) I was delighted to try the new Rosa Damascena Sugar Body Scrub (400g - £28)*. The product comes in a large kilner type jar with it's own little wooden spoon. 

The scrub is formulated with Green Coffee Oil, a powerful antioxidant, natural Vitamin E, Organic Sugar, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Rose Absolute and essential oils. It truly is a luxurious treat and the scent is perfect for rose lovers like myself!

As you can see there is plenty of oil in the formulation which helps to make it one of the best body scrubs I've ever used. It truly is happiness in a jar! 

To use: apply to damp or dry skin (if you prefer a scrubbier scrub). Skin is left glowy, renewed, soft, smelling of roses and feeling deeply nourished. I absolutely love it. Pick yours up HERE (there's also a Mandarin & Lime version, if you prefer).

Monday, 19 April 2021

*The Evolution: Happy Planet Box: Spring 2021

*AD - Gifted items It was such a lovely surprise when Spring's Happy Planet Box* arrived! As ever, the box is carefully curated with a whole host of goodies which will "bring back the shine to your winter damaged hair". All product are Vegan and Cruelty Free. The box costs £25 (worth £37 - plus p&p). It comes with a very informative leaflet and a 20% off code to buy the tea if you enjoy the samples).

This box really makes my heart sing! With carefully chosen and useful products, all with easily recyclable packaging.

The first thing to jump out at me is Fushi's Really Good Hair Oil 100ml (£18) which had been on my wishlist! I'm so excited to try it out and a review will follow (I like how a little stopper has been added under the cap to make the flow of the oil easier to manage). The scent of the oil is gorgeous "we would recommend this product based on aroma alone" (Jasmin) It is multi-use - use it as a luxe overnight hair treatment, to smooth prior to blow-drying, to smooth flyaways or as a quick 1hr treatment. 

I've had the pleasure of using Beauty Kubes Natural Shampoo for Normal to Dry Hair 100g (£9.50) before, so I'm excited to revisit! See my review HERE.

I love this quirky sustainable bamboo pocked comb (£4) from Zero Waste Club. Its a handy size to pop in your bag so you can fix your hair on the go. 

From Suma, there is a Coconut & Argan Oil Conditioner Bar with Ylang Ylang 90g (£5.50) which smells floral and slightly coconutty. Use on the lengths or ends to nourish dry hair. Again, looking forward to trying this one!

Rounding up Spring's box are three teabags from Teasup - their White Tea & Mango which smell divine! These aromatic bags combine fruity mango with delicate white tea.

Pick up your Happy Planet Box HERE.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

*Amphora Aromatics Whipped Shea Butter Moisturisers: Vanilla & Jasmin + Mimosa

*productsamples - AD Amphora Aromatics very kindly recently sent me a couple of their very affordable and luxurious Shea Butter Moisturisers (120ml - £9.70). They came beautifully boxed and tied with good quality ribbon (both of which I'll be using again for gifting!) The amber glass jars are easily reusable or recyclable - the perfect kind of packaging!

 The Shea Butter Moisturisers are nestled inside the boxes on shredded tissue.

The moisturisers are whipped which gives them a smooth and creamy texture. I've been trying their Vanilla Absolute and Jasmin & Mimosa Versions and I love them both! Vanilla Absolute Whipped Shea Butter has a gentle vanilla aroma which is lovely. Both the moisturisers have a creamy texture and melt easily on warm skin. Formulated with Shea Butter, Beeswax, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Essential Oils and Vitamin E. Jasmin & Mimosa has a gorgeous exotic floral aroma which lingers on the skin. 

To use: apply sparingly onto the skin to condition and nourish

I've loved using the butters which are effective and affordable luxury. I'd definitely buy them again. I now have my eye on Frangipani and Frankincense & Rose. Pick yours up HERE.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

*Love Lula: BLOSSOM: Green People, Therapi Honey Skincare & JOIK

*Received free of charge as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger - AD. As you'll know, I've been theming my blogger picks this year with Love Lula and for April I chose BLOSSOM. I'm a huge fan of springtime blossom so it was a natural pick. See my previous reviews - SLEEPLOVE and AWAKEN.

I chose Green People's Moisturising Shower Gel with Neroli & Marshmallow (£13 - 200ml)* (which is free from SLS/SLES, parabens, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, phthalates, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), colourants and artificial fragrances) making it one of the purest shower gel that nature can offer. It has a gorgeous neroli blossom scent and creates a rich and silky foamy lather. 

To use:
apply a small amount to wet skin, massaging before rinsing. Skin is left feeling clean and nourished with a light floral aroma. I like this a lot!

My second pick this month is Therapi Honey Skincare's Orange Blossom Hydrating Toner (£25.50 - 100ml)*. It balances normal and sensitive skin types and has a beautiful orange blossom aroma. My skin has recently felt like it has needed a bit more hydration and this beautiful toner revitalises, hydrates and balances. It really is a joy to use!

To use: spritz onto the skin after cleansing or any time your skin needs a hydration boost. Happiness in a bottle!

My final pick under the Blossom theme is JOIK's new-in Apple & Elderflower Foaming Handwash (£15 - 250ml)* with a nod to Elderflower blossoms. It's enriched with aloe juice and apple extract. The liquid becomes a foam the instant you pump some from the bottle and has a divine fruity/floral scent. It quickly and easily cleans the hands leaving them delicately scented and feeling nourished. I absolutely love it and although it is on the pricey side for a hand wash I'll definitely repurchase as it's so nice to use.

To use: pump a small amount of foam onto damp hands and wash as normal. Rinse. 

Another joy giving month. I've really loved trying this trio which are effective, luxurious and nice to use. Have you tried any of these products?

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

*Love Lula Beauty Box: April 2021

*I received the Love Lula Beauty Box complimentary as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger for an honest review. The Beauty Box costs £14.95 in the UK on a rolling subscription making it excellent value for money. This month the contents are worth £59! As ever, there's 20% off the brands in the box in the form of a code for subscribers which is valid until the 10th May.

I was especially excited to see the new Ooh! Oil of Heaven nestling inside as well as J.R. Liggett's Mini Shampoo Set - both of which had been on my wishlist!

Inside is a full size (30ml - £19) of the latest Ooh! Oils of Heaven - Organic Jojoba Face Oil, which I'm looking forward to trying. It closely mimics the skin's own sebum and is suitable for acne/oily skins. It can also be used to stimulate the scalp - I love a multi-use product. 

I came so close to buying this dinky little Assorted Sampler Box of mini shampoo bars from J.R. Liggett's (6 x 18g, £12.99). Being a huge solid shampoo fan I'm looking forward to testing them out - Original, Herbal, Tea Tree & Hemp, Moisturizing, Jojoba & Peppermint and Virgin Coconut & Argan). They are the perfect try-me set or for travel.

From Inika, is a full size Long Lash Mascara (8g - £23) in Black which will give you long and luscious lashes with no flaking or clumping. I'm sure I've used this Vegan mascara before. It's always nice to see a make-up item nestling inside.

Rounding up this month's box is a delicious Black Cherry Lip Balm from Crazy Rumors. This is full size (4g - £3.99) and is fruity, tangy and sweet. It'll nourish and care for dry and chapped lips.

A great box in my opinion, what are your thoughts?

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Weleda Arnica Cooling Gel

Weleda Advisor, Rosaleen very kindly gifted a few people over on instagram a tube of Weleda's Arnica Cooling Gel (25g). I was one of the lucky ones she chose to receive one. Thanks Rosie!

I've found since working from home for over a year (with the odd day allowed into the office during August to December last year) that I have developed aches and pains - I did spend a lot of time working at the kitchen table sitting on a normal kitchen chair. I have found since I requested an office chair my posture is better (less hunching over!) which has helped a lot.

The Arnica Cooling Gel is a light and cooling with a herbal scent and is made from biodynamically grown organic Arnica extracts. It's great to use pre and post sporting activities or to soothe tired limbs and other aches and pains. It's really easy to use - just massage it onto affected areas as often as needed. It feels super soothing and absorbs instantly. 

Pick yours up HERE.

Friday, 9 April 2021

*Top Reads 2021: January to March

Like beauty I decided to do Top Reads for the first three months of 2021. Books marked * I've very kindly been given free of charge for review either directly from the publisher or from the author. I've read circa 30 books so far this year and these are my top reads for January-March.  So, shall we begin..

The Resident by David Jackson - after having seen this book on many top reads of 2020 I immediately bought it and devoured it in a couple of days. Check out my review HERE.

*The Perfect Liar by Beverley Harvey - how I loved this twisty tale (I really hope there's a sequel - as I'd love to meet up with some of the characters again as well as to hear what happens to a couple of the others!) See my review HERE.

The Visitor by Terry Tyler - which is set during a pandemic in the future. If you pick it up you are in for a fast paced and sometimes terrifying ride! See my review HERE.

My final January top read is *A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion - which has a surprising opening. It's a summer of change and coming of age. Check out my review HERE.

Moving into February I was thrilled to read Laura Shepherd-Robinson's, *Daughters of Night which features strong-willed and plucky Caro whom we met in Blood & Sugar. See my review HERE.

I fell totally head-over-heels for *Circus of Wonder by Elizabeth MacNeal which publishes in May. It's a must-read. I'm still thinking of it now.

*While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart - a richly drawn story with characters who stole my heart and made me cry. I took part in the blog tour. See my review HERE.

*The Rift by Rachel Lynch - this is a departure from Rachel's normal books the fantastic Detective Kelly Porter books. It's very, very good. It's published on 22 April so catch my review in my April books round-up.

Moving into March reads I adored Kathleen Hart's *Devorgilla Days which doesn't publish until near to the end of May. Kathleen's memoir is well worth a read and is an absolute gem. It charts her recovery from breast cancer and associated illnesses and her move to Wigtown, the Scottish Book Town.

*The Fair Botanists by Sara SheridanI'm a huge fan of Sara's so was delighted to read her latest novel which is set in Edinburgh in 1822 and features the moving of the Botanical Garden to Inverleith. There's also a rare plant - the Agave Americana set to flower which draws the interest of many. It's not published until early August so I'll share my review in my August books round-up. The story is richly drawn and meticulously researched and I absolutely loved it!

Do we share any favourites?