Tuesday, 31 August 2021

August Book Round-Up

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

The Source by Sarah Sultoon - the story is told over two time lines and are cleverly interwoven, even if the story is at times hard to read. We meet Carly, who is 13 and lives at home with her alcoholic mother and little sister, Kayleigh. Her brother is a squaddie at the local army base and he suggests that she and her pal Rach come over to the barracks and hang out. 

In the future we meet Marie, an adult who works in London as a TV reporter. When the Met reopen a historic case on a sex trafficking ring she finds she has to confront things from her past. A gritty debut which is difficult to read.

*The Killing Tide - Rhona MacLeod #16 by Lin Anderson - I took part in the blog tour for this fast paced read. See my review HERE.

*Finding Suzy by David Videcette - huge thanks to the author for the ARC. We all remember estate agent Suzy Lamplugh going missing after supposedly showing a house to a Mr Kipper in July '86.

David Videcette, a former police officer and Caroline, his fellow investigator have meticulously investigated and researched what happened to Suzy that fateful day and have come up with a conclusion. 

I found the book well written and was quickly caught up in the "true crime" investigation as to things the police could have done but didn't, interviewing as many people as possible who were involved in the case originally as well as coming to conclusions of their own over a number of issues.

Totally fascinating and thought provoking, it's a must read.

*Rough by Rachel ThompsonI found myself nodding at a lot of the scenarios the author explores in the book. She conducted research and shares the stories of 50 woman and non binary people. The book covers the sexual violence we don't speak about that happens in nearly all our lives "the grey area".

Although not easy reading it's informative and thought provoking and there are chapters which I may go back to read again.

*The Box Hill Murders by B L Pearce (A DCI Rob Miller Mystery #4) - having loved books #1 and #2 I found I didn't connect to the 3rd book in the series.  I was however willing to give the fourth book a try and wasn't disappointed - it's twisty and keeps the reader interested throughout. I wish Rob wouldn't constantly "bark" orders though!

A cold case of the murder of 4 men who were left with the same 5 pointed star carved into their chests is re-opened when a young girl is caught up in a robbery's DNA is a partial match to saliva found on one of the victims. The race is on to find the killer. The story is twisty and kept me on the edge of my seat! It was also nice to catch up with Rob's pregnant girlfriend Jo and Trigger the dog. Would highly recommend & looking forward to book #5.

*The Cottage by Lisa StoneJan Hamlin looses her job and her boyfriend finishes with her. She answers an ad to live in a secluded cottage backing onto woods for a low rent on the proviso of looking after the owner's dog while she's away. The cottage is lovely.... in the daylight but when the very dark nights creep in Jan gets scared. It's so quiet for a city girl and she when hears the slightest noise like the tapping on the window and the strange noises from the garden and forest send her imagination into overdrive.

Running alongside is a story about a couple called Ian and Emma who have tragically lost two children during childbirth. Ian plans to find out all he can about their DNA and why their children are stillborn. The stories are loosely interweaved and things become clearer as the story progresses.

I found it a creepy read and it's got a twist at the end I didn't see coming. Would recommend.

*The Man on Hackpen Hill by J S Monroe - I'm taking part in the blog tour in early September for this unputdownable & twisty read so catch my review then.

Awaiting publication:

*The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan - I fell head-over-heels for this book & Belle! It's the summer of 1822 in Edinburgh and King George IV might come for a visit in late summer. His right hand man, Johann is already there to oversee the possible programme of events which might take place. Also arriving is newly widowed Elizabeth Rocheid who has been invited to stay with her late husband's ageing Aunt Clementina at her home in Inverleith which borders the new Botanical Garden.

Much excitement is to be had with the move of the trees from the former gardens at Leith as well as the fact that the century plant - an Agave Americana is set to flower. The seeds have been promised to many and Head Gardener, Mr McNab is getting anxious. Elizabeth introduces herself and having drawn for Kew offers her services. She's over the moon about her new start and exciting adventures in Edinburgh.

Belle Brodie, is a beautiful young woman in charge of her own life, who apart from being a courtesan, has a keen interest in botany and creates and formulates perfumes and potions with the help of a promising young lad, Edzel, whom she's helping to get into medical school. She's also extremely interested in the blooms from the plant. I totally fell in love with fiery and determined Belle who knows exactly what she wants.

Belle and Elizabeth meet and form a firm friendship which has its good and bad times. Belle invites Elizabeth on a trip to Ratho (one which takes 2hrs there and back!) Blind Mhairi MacDonald also assists Belle with her big life changing project as she's got an uncanny sense of smell. I also liked how Elizabeth grows into her own as the story progresses.
It's a beautiful read with characters I grew to love, historical content I found interesting and I loved the real life characters whose lives are interwoven into the story. I absolutely loved this richly drawn and meticulously researched story and highly recommend it (I could actually quite honestly say it's my favourite book this year so far).

What have you been reading this month?

Monday, 30 August 2021

August: Lately I've Been Loving

So many August loves! We had a 4 night break this month which was lovely (though it rained most of the time!) Here's what I've been loving in August:

In my opinion, Tonic in Edinburgh make the best Porn Star Martini!

A two night stay at Northcote was simply amazing. The perfect start to our mini break. Our Junior Suite was lovely, very luxurious! Amazing food too!

We paid a visit to Holmes Mill in Clitheroe and enjoyed browsing the Food Hall. 

We also stayed two nights in the Scottish Borders and it was great to visit Main St Trading Co in St Boswells again! 

Hubby surprised me with a personalised Delicious Mag cookbook! It's stuffed full of wonderful recipes.

I was delighted to win Herbfarmacy's giveaway of their new Citrus Hand & Body Lotion. A review will come! It's lovey.

I couldn't resist Nudge Boutique's new product Saffron Glow Dry Body Oil. I picked the small size. You know the drill. Loved it and needed full size! It's a beautiful blend scented with Neroli, Orange & Vanilla. Simply sublime!

A new hairdo at Bau Hair - I absolutely love it!

Going to the 2nd Faldonside Farmers Market on Saturday - it was absolutely fantastic! The sun shone and squeals, I met Arabella & Charlotte from Raven Botanicals. It was So fab to meet them.

I picked up some gorgeous bits and pieces! I'm looking forward to lighting the tealights from Storm Coast, an East Lothian based candle maker who uses soy wax and essential oils - uhoh they all smell sensational on cold sniff!

What have you been loving in August?

Friday, 27 August 2021

*Love Lula: Ila Spa: CBD

As you'll probably know I've been theming my Love Lula Accredited Blogger picks this year. See my previous posts - 

January - SLEEP,  February LOVEMarch - AWAKENApril - BLOSSOMMay - FORAGE


This month I chose CBD as my theme. I'd already bought two of Ila Spa's CBD products - their CBD Body Calm (100g - £56) and CBD Better Day Drops (15ml - £48) which are fantastic. I chose their CBD Gold Face Serum (50ml - £60)* (I added a little bit extra to be able to try this luxe product). 

Ila Spa's CBD is full spectrum. It contains a wide range of other cannabionoids alongside other plant chemicals which makes it more potent. Ila Spa work very closely with the farmers so know exactly where the oil comes from. CBD appears to influence the immune system, alleviating pain, reducing insomnia, anxiety, nausea & inflammation (it does not give you a high). I'll start with the product I chose this month as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger - CBD Gold Face Serum:

The range comes beautifully boxed and products are in black glass. The serum has a creamy texture and smells divine. It'll hydrate, nourish, calm and make your skin glow. Formulated with CBD Oil and Liposome, which help to reduce pain and inflammation, Argan & Moringa oils which are rich in fatty acids, Cactus oil regnerates thanks to a high dose of linoleic acid which encourages new cell production and contains Vit E. Collodial Gold helps to retexture & repair improving elasticity, healing & brightening. It's scented with exotic Jasmine.

To use: apply one or two pumps to clean skin AM and PM. Best used underneath CBD Face Cream.

I've loved using this exquisite serum which brightens & hydrates, smells incredible & leaves the skin with a radiant glow as well as a sense of calm.

As you can see I'm simply loving CBD Body Calm. I've found it a great help at alleviating nerve pain in my thigh. It's packed with CBD (which helps to reduce pain and inflammation), as well as essential oils including Rose Damascene, Petitgrain and Cedarwood (smells soo good, rich and aromatic), which have been selected for their grounding and warming properties. St John’s Wort is believed to calm inflamed skin, to alleviate nerve pain and may be beneficial for sciatica, neuralgia and soothing minor burns. Calendula is considered to have a powerful anti-viral effect, as well as being a powerful astringent. Arnica is known to reduce pain and inflammation, increase circulation by stimulating white blood cell activity and to treat bruising.

To use: massage over the skin after a bath or shower. It really is a "hug in a jar".

Again, huge love for this product, I couldn't live without it now!

The third product I bought from Ila Spa's CBD range is CBD Better Day Drops. Inside is a blend of premium high dose (5%) CBD oil which helps to stimulate nerve responses, reduce pain, inflammation and bring a sense of calm. The drops have been flavoured with vanilla to give a more palatable taste.

To use: 1-2 drops under tongue 3 times a day.

I like the herbal earthy type taste. The vanilla gives it a slight sweetness. I like using the drops (when I remember to take them!) They bring a sense of calm.

Have you tried anything from the range?

Sunday, 22 August 2021

August Empties

I'm not going to use anything else up in August so here are my August empties. If it's marked * I've kindly been sent the product to review. 

As you'll know I'm a huge fan of Butterwhips. I used up their Traditionally Floral & Exotically Tranquil Body Butters 25g each which were gorgeous. See my review HERE. Would buy again. Escentric Molecules Molecule 03 (30ml) I absolutely love this vertiver scent & have just opened a new one. I used up 2 sample vials - Miller Harris Poirier du Soir which is deliciously fruity & Kenzo Flowers EDT which is sublime. Would buy both full size. Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer 10ml is perfect for summer. I had the pleasure of trying Scottish brand Deerieo & fell head over heels for their Aurora Face Oil Serum 10ml* review. It's on the wishlist! I simply adore Floral Street's Electric Rhubarb 10ml. I always have a back up! The Oribe duo were fab (Gold Lust Shampoo & Conditioner both 50ml). Really luxurious. I adore this brand!

Organic Youth Skincare Escape Organic Bath & Body Oil 15ml. I truly loved this stunning oil which is scented with Jasmine, Vanilla, Sweet Orange & Sandalwood - review. Buying next month!  It was good to revisit Temple Spa and I loved the La La Lagoon Bath & Shower Gel 30ml. I adore every Dr Hauschka product I try and their Rose Nurturing Bath Essence 100ml* is simply sublime. See my review HERE. It's on the wishlist! Siam Ginger is one of my favourite bath & shower therapy scents from Bodhi & Birch. Sure to buy again soon! I used their Botanic Dew Hand & Body Wash for hands and I love it's uplifting scent. Will buy again (both 200ml). Rounding up my empties this month is Organic Works Lavender Hand Wash 300ml* which is gorgeous. Will buy again at some point. What have you been using up this month?

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Latest Buys: Summer Reading Gift Box, Natural Wellness Box, NØRDEN, Castaway Soaps, Scottish Soap Witch, At the Farmhouse

I have been a bit more considered with my August purchases. Here's what I've been buying lately:

I couldn't resist Courtney's Picks - Summer Reading Gift Box - a real joy giving book box from The Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells (can't wait to see what Autumn brings!) See my post about it HERE.

Another thing I was on wait-see if there's any left was July's Natural Wellness - The Summer Nights Collection. I was in luck and snaffled one quickly up. See my review HERE.

A fab concrete soap dish from Smells Like Home from NØRDEN in North Berwick.

Beautiful soaps - one new to me brand and one I love. Picked up locally to me in Portobello. It's the little things which bring so much joy! 

I came across Susan and her wonderful art while browsing the hashtag #Lauder on Instagram. It was meant to be that I found her site At the Farmhouse and treated myself to a gorgeous hand painted candle pot using a repurposed jar and exquisite nature cards. Everything truly brings me such joy!

What have you been buying lately?

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

*Florena Fermented Skincare: Hydration Collection

*product samples - AD I was very kindly sent some Florena Fermented Skincare products to try from the Hydration Collection* (the range is available at Boots as well as online). 

The unique fermentation process breaks down the ingredients to a simpler form making them more concentrated, powerful and easily absorbed. The range is Vegan and COSMOS The Soil Association certified and the hydration collection is enriched with fermented Camellia Sinensis and Olive Oil which have 10 times more Essential Fatty Acids and 50 times more Omegas 6 and 9.  The jars are 97.5% recycled plastic and the boxes are made from 70% recycled materials.

24H Hydrating Day Cream 50ml (£19.99)* is a lightweight and fluffy cream with a fresh floral aroma. It absorbs instantly locking in moisture for 24hours thus giving long-lasting hydration. Nourishing Night Cream 50ml (£19.99)* is the perfect night time companion as the rich cream will replenish and care for your skin while you sleep.

The 24H Hydrating Face Mask 8ml (£4.99)* give the skin an intense hit of hydration and feels nourishing on the skin. Leave on 5 minutes or so before wiping any excess. You can also personalise your mask with a drop or two of one of the facial oils.

I've enjoyed using the products, they smell nice, absorb quickly and deeply hydrate, replenish and nourish the skin. Pick yours up HERE.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

*Blog Tour: The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson

Today I'm on the blog tour for the fantastic The Killing Tide - Rhona MacLeod #16 by Lin Anderson. I received a copy of the book* free of charge to enable me to take part in the blog tour.

When three bodies are found on a wrecked ship in the Orkney Isles, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is brought in to investigate.

The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson sees forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod investigating a mysterious abandoned ship which has swept ashore in the Orkney Isles.

After a fierce storm hits Scotland, a mysterious cargo ship is discovered in the Orkney Isles. Boarding the vessel uncovers three bodies, recently deceased and in violent circumstances. Forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod’s study of the crime scene suggests that a sinister game was being played on board, but who were the hunters? And who the hunted?

Meanwhile in Glasgow DS Michael McNab is called to a horrific incident where a young woman has been set on fire. Or did she spark the flames herself?

As evidence arises that connects the two cases, the team grow increasingly concerned that the truth of what happened on the ship and in Glasgow hints at a wider conspiracy that stretches down to London and beyond to a global stage. Orcadian Ava Clouston, renowned investigative journalist, believes so and sets out to prove it, putting herself in grave danger.

When the Met Police challenge Police Scotland’s jurisdiction, it becomes obvious that there are ruthless individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect government interests. Which could lead to even more deaths on Scottish soil.

About the Author:

Lin Anderson is a Scottish author and screenwriter known for her bestselling crime series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod. Four of her novels have been longlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist.

Her short film River Child won both a Scottish BAFTA for Best Fiction and the Celtic Film Festival’s Best Drama Award and has now been viewed more than one million times on YouTube. Lin is also the co-founder of the international crime writing festival Bloody Scotland.

My thoughts?

I can't believe this is book 16! I absolutely love the characters and it's always such a joy to read a new Rhona MacLeod thriller. I was hooked from the very first page.

A storm brings an abandoned ship to the shores of Orkney. Inside are three bodies, people who've met their deaths in a sinister way. Forensic Scientist, Rhona MacLeod is called upon to study the crime scene.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow DS Michael McNab is investigating an incident where a woman was set alight in a random back court. As the investigation progresses it seems it's connected with the Orkney case in some way.

This sends McNab to London, to meet with the Met which sends him into danger. Orcadian journalist, Ava Clouston is keen to piece together the story and finds she has to watch her back as well. 

The story is twisty and fast paced and I loved it. Highly recommend.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Natural Wellness Box: The Summer Nights Collections

As there were some of The Summer Nights Collection available at Natural Wellness Box when I got back from my mini staycation I knew I'd need to nab a one off box (£42). Sign up Bi-Monthly for £38 (payments are taken when the subscription is taken out and then: January, March, May, September, November). They've also got a fantastic offer this weekend - get £10 off The Glow Collection this weekend only with SUMMERGLOW10 - see me mention it on the blog HERE.

What a great box! Inside is:

Monuspa Reviving Rosewood Mist - RRP - £25.95

No Secrets Beauty Luxury Shower Cream - Four - RRP - £25 (tried before)

Botanical Blooming Blends Be Sexy Tincture RRP - £22

Liha Queen of Idia African Moss Candle RRP - £14

Vita Coco Infused Sparkling Coconut Water - £2.49

Squirrel Sisters Peanut Raspberry Bar - £1.50

A sample (3 days worth) Fight Vitamins Immunity Gummies

I'll be coming back with reviews once I've had the chance to try the products out properly. Are you a subscriber or do you just dip in and out like me?

Thursday, 12 August 2021

The Main Street Trading Company: Summer Reading Gift

I just love a wee visit to The Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells in the Scottish Borders. I actually visited last week! If I'd thought in advance I could have picked up my Summer Reading Gift Box (Courtney's Picks) (£26 plus p&p) directly rather than having it posted! 

The gift set is beautifully wrapped with a little personalised note - it's the little things! I love the "hare" tissue and wrap.

Inside the box is a beautifully wrapped and tied parcel of the two books in the set, a miniature of Lind & Lime Gin (my fav) and two tins of Fever Tree Tonic Water. There are three summer selections to choose from picked by their booksellers - one book they've read and loved and one which is on their summer reading list (see HERE). I picked Courtney's Picks (as I'd read/have one of each in the others). As I wanted to read The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and the other book, The Mermaid of the Black Conch by Monique Roffey piqued my interest.

This set is total joy giving and the perfect gift for a book lover. I can't wait to see what Autumn brings! (Reviews will come in a forthcoming monthly book round-up). See all the Gift Boxes HERE.