Tuesday, 30 November 2021

November Book Round-Up

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

*Fall by West Camel - I'm taking part in the Blog Tour next week so I'll share my review then of this cracking read.

*Stolen Ones - DI Kim Stone Book #15 by Angela Marsons - how I adore this series and Kim! 

Steven Harte comes to the station claiming to know what happened to a girl who went missing without a trace 25 years ago. He wants to help Kim but on his terms only. Kim and the Team are investigating a similar crime where a young child has been snatched from the local nursery.

Alex is due to be released from prison and is hoping that Kim will help with her parole in exchange for news about her father. She really shouldn't underestimate her...

It was great to catch up with well loved characters and it made me smile to recognise some well kent names as new characters!
It's a twisty tale which had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Highly recommend it.

*A Man of Honor - the prequel to A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Having adore A Woman of Substance back in the day I was delighted to drop back into the past and read Blackie's story which didn't disappoint. 

Orphaned and alone 13 year old Blackie O'Neill leaves Ireland to go and live with his mother's brother in Leeds. It's here he will become a skilled carpenter and dreams of building houses including a very large and grand one of his own.

He meets Emma Harte on the desolate Yorkshire moors and learns she works for the Fairleys, who she hates with a vengeance. It's a great read and so richly drawn. I now want to re-read A Woman of Substance!

*The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C S Robertson - I simply loved this sometimes dark and disturbing read & Grace! It's not published until January so I'll share my review then.

*Before my Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney - I simply loved Mary, the lead character in the story. I took part in the blog tour. See my review HERE. It's one of my favourite books this year.

Awaiting publication:

*The Lost Girls by Heather YoungI absolutely loved this story which is told then and 60 years later. Then is 1935 and the summer that the Evans family's lives were changed forever. They spent every summer at the family holiday home at the remote Minnesota lake. On the day they are going home and back to their lives, little sister, Emily goes missing. She's searched for far and wide but there's no trace and it rips the family apart. Emily's sisters and mother spend the rest of their lives at the lake house forever hoping that Emily will return..

In the present day, middle sister Lucy is the only one left alive and lives there alone with her memories. She knows she doesn't have long and writes down all which happened that summer in the hope that her grandniece, Justine might care.

The story is laced with secrets, lies, untruths, family history along with some quite shocking reveals which are done subtly and sympathetically. When Justine hears she's inherited the lake house it means she and her daughters can escape her controlling boyfriend and start again. Her only neighbour at the lake is an old man who appears to know more about that summer than he's letting on. When her mother gets wind of perhaps loosing her inheritance she too is drawn to the Lake House.
Never one to give up the controlling ex appears and tries to take control of Justine and her destiny. I enjoyed both parts of the story and especially the characters of Lucy and Justine. Would recommend.

What have you been reading this month?

Monday, 29 November 2021

November Empties

Here's what I've been using up in November. If a product is marked * I kindly received it complimentary for review.

I love Indie Lee's Energize Deodorant 50g. See my review HERE. Will buy again. Huge fan of Ezape Naturals, their body butters are divine. I didn't think the Tea Tree & Peppermint* blend would be something I'd like as I'm not a huge-huge Tea Tree fan but this blend was really nice and minty-fresh. I would buy full size. Monpure's Clarifying Salt Scrub 50g was nice to use but unlikely to buy it again as there are other scalp care products I prefer. I love CITY SURViVOR supplement range and found both Immune Support and Night Support very effective. See my earlier review HERE. Will definitely buy both again at some point. Naturopathica's CBD+Unwind 30 Caps* see my review HERE. Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Body Scrub 28g which is a nice scrubby scrub with the delectable sweet original aroma. On the wishlist full size. The Nue Co MOOD 30 caps, I love these onto my second pot. They really do ease anxiety and brighten your mood. A keeper. Raven Botanicals Drift Bathing Oils sample, a rich and aromatic bath delight with a gentle lavender aroma. I simply adore Miller Harris's Lumiere Dore EdP 9ml, it's one of my favourite MH scents. Distinctly summery with orange blossom notes.

Friendly Soap with Peppermint & Poppyseed, a zero waste minty soap which was nice and refreshing. Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk 150ml, one of my favourites. I've just opened the last in my stash. I want to try the newish Living Proof one next. Love a bit of aromatic bodhi & birch. Their Ylang Ylang Inscensa Bath & Shower therapy 50ml is one of my fav b&b scents. See my review HERE. Just bought full size. Kiss the Moon Love Bedtime Bath Salts 50g* were gorgeous. See my review HERE. Will definitely buy again.  I quite enjoyed Agent Nateur & Shiva Rose Holi (Rose) No.4 Deodorant but not enough to buy it again. Noble Isle's Rhubarb Rhubarb! Hand Wash 250ml was gorgeous. Hugely fruity and lathered up well. Would buy again (wish they did refills though). JOIK's Organic Cornflower Facial Mist 50ml* was very refreshing. See my review HERE.

What have you been using up in November?

Sunday, 28 November 2021

November: Lately I've been Loving

Where has November gone! It's just raced through. Here's what I've been loving (if it's marked * I kindly received it complimentary):

Kiss the Moon's sumptuous gift sets*, some of which I reviewed HERE. I absolutely adore their Bedtime Bath Salts. So good.

We had a gorgeous night away in beautiful Perthshire at newly reopened Killiecrankie House, a restaurant with five exquisite bedrooms with large rolltop baths. The food was incredible and the drinks pairings spot on! The bottom picture is part of the sweeties course - Black Pudding Madelines! Delicious they were.

I first tried Fair Squared's eco friendly, zero waste Olive Hand Cream* as a Beauty Shortlist Judge and fell head-over-heels for it's rich and nourishing feel. I'm so enjoying the pot Fair Squared generously sent me and a review is forthcoming.

Christmas Wax Melt scents from Olfactory Candles plus a few others (the Limited Edition Parma Violets is so strong!)

We dog sat one of my boss's dogs again. Wee Astro. He's adorable.

Attending the Authors & Bloggers Christmas Lunch was such fun and so nice to receive the above books* from Sandstone Press which I'm looking forward to reading. The books below I received in the Secret Santa which also look interesting!

What have you been loving in November?

Friday, 26 November 2021

Up to 25% off Black Friday Sale at Alyaka

Post contains one Affiliate links which is marked *. Get 20% off at Alyaka in their Black Friday Sale* until 2nd December. Use code Friday20 on all purchases and you can get 25% off if you spend £125+ with code Friday25. There's so much to choose from with a lot of more niche brands running alongside better known ones. (Some exclusions apply).

Things which have caught my eye include:

Mahalo Skincare is a brand I'm aware of but I've not tried any products from it. I'm loving the look of The Petal Mask 100ml (£92) and Rare Indigo Beauty Balm 30ml (£106).

Henua Organics is a brand on my wishlist. I've got my eye on their Miracle Vitamin Oil 15ml (£109).

There's lots in the Christmas Store which looks enticing! I'm especially loving the look of the Wildsmith gift sets. Their Spa in a Jar set is presented in a biocompostable box! Inside is 100ml Nourishing Cleansing Balm and 15ml Radiance Polisher (£65). I'm also loving Aurelia London's Sculpt & Sleep Collection (£50) which includes Cell Repair Night Oil 15ml, The Probiotic Concentrate 10ml and a pink quartz heart guasha stone.

You could also treat yourself to a new perfume from an enticing selection. I'm loving the sound of Bois 1920's Sensual Tuberose EdP 100ml (£149) which has notes of tuberose, peach, jasmine and orange blossom. It sounds an absolute delight.

If you do treat yourself to anything from Alyaka this Black Friday please let me know what you've chosen!

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

*Blog Tour: Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney

Today I'm on the Blog Tour for the fantastic Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney*. I received a complimentary copy of the book to enable me to take part in the Tour.



When she was young Mary Rattigan wanted to fly. She was going to take off like an angel from heaven and leave the muck and madness of troubled Northern Ireland behind. Nothing but the Land of Happy Ever After would do for her.

But as a Catholic girl with a B.I.T.C.H. for a Mammy and a silent Daddy, things did not go as she and Lizzie Magee had planned.

Now, five children, twenty-five years, an end to the bombs and bullets, enough whiskey to sink a ship and endless wakes and sandwich teas later, Mary's alone. She's learned plenty of hard lessons and missed a hundred steps towards the life she'd always hoped for.

Will she finally find the courage to ask for the love she deserves? Or is it too late?

Tish Delaney was born and brought up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles. Like a lot of people of her generation, she left the sectarian violence behind by moving to England. After graduating from Manchester University, she moved to London and worked on various magazines and broadsheets as a reporter, reviewer and sub-editor. She left the Financial Times in 2014 to live in the Channel Islands to pursue her career as a writer.

My thoughts?

I found the story a little bit slow to begin with but very soon I was totally engaged in the story and the characters within its pages and I found I couldn't put the book down!  

Sixteen year old Mary Rattigan lives in rural Carncloon in Co. Tyrone and the story is set against the troubles in Northern Ireland and religious divides. Catholic and pregnant her mother arranges a shotgun wedding with John Johns, the farmer next door.

Mary is torn away from all that she knows and is appalled to find no electric light or an inside toilet at the farm. Her saving grace is John's mother Bridie who keeps her on the straight and narrow and is like a mother to her. Her own mother, Sadie belittles her at every turn and her dad turns a blind eye and so Mary has no self-worth. She does have her Aunt Eileen and her funny friend Lizzie back in her life (which adds some laugh out loud moments).

Mary and John rub along in the day to day tolerating each other. They only truly connect in the bedroom and passionately, going onto have five children together. We hear of the tragedy in his past and we are there for Mary when things change. 

I absolutely adored the story and the characters but especially Mary. Highly recommend. 

Monday, 22 November 2021

*Love Lula Christmas: Kiss the Moon

*Sent to me complimentary as a member of Love Lula's Accredited Blogger program for an honest review. As you'll know I've been theming my picks this year. The last two months of the year have-to-be Christmas related. This month I've picked sumptuous gifts from Kiss the Moon and next month I'll share my eco friendly stocking filler picks.

Presented simply in black boxes with branded ribbons and tags which are easily recyclable or reusable. I selected 3 gift boxes to review:

GLOW & DREAM Essential Oil Soap Duo (£18 for 2 x 100g soaps)* are exquisitely packaged in recyclable glassine paper and tied with branded ribbons and tags. I've previously tried the GLOW Soap* see my review HERE. The soaps are truly gorgeous and could be split up for small gifts/secret santa.

I also selected the Bedtime Bath Salts Trio (£12, 3 x 50g)* which are gorgeous. I took LOVE which is formulated with essential oils of rose, palmarosa and ylang ylang on my recent mini-break and totally wallowed in my beautifully scented relaxing bath (large rolltop). Also inside is GLOW (Review) which is scented with orange, geranium and myrrh along with epsom & dead sea salts. White tea and coconut seed oil provides an antioxidant boost leaving the skin nourished and moisturised. The final one is DREAM with French Lavender, Bergamot and Cedarwood. Again, this set would be perfect to gift as intended or split up for small presents.

My final pick is the decadent and truly relaxing Sleep Mask Luxury Silk (£18)* it'll help you drift off to restful slumbers blocking out all the light for a deep and peaceful sleep. It's also great if you need half an hour's shut eye during the day!

What are your favourites from Kiss the Moon?

Friday, 19 November 2021

Naturisimo: The November edit

You know I can never resist a Naturisimo Discovery Box. The November Edit costs £22 plus p&p and is worth £119.

I was trying to resist. Inside you'll find:

  • Inika Certified Organic Matte Perfection Primer, 30ml Full Size
  • Neighbourhood Botanicals Mild Mannered Face Lotion, 30ml
  • Lola's Apothecary Monsoon Paradise Body & Massage Oil 10ml
  • Kjaer Weis Beautiful Face Oil, 4ml
  • Indie Lee Purifying Face Wash, 15ml
  • Odacite Montana Harvest Oil Cleanser, 6ml
  • The Organic Pharmacy Skin Treat Mask Trio, 3 x 10ml
  • NEOM Perfect Nights Sleep Pillow Mist, 5ml

Did you pick a box up? 

Monday, 15 November 2021

*Love Lula Beauty Box: November 2021

*I receive the Love Lula Beauty Box complimentary each month as a Love Lula Accredited Blogger for an honest review. This month the box is worth £55! Subscribe HERE.

WOW! The first things to jump out at me was D'Alchemy's Intense Skin Repair Oil 5ml which is worth £18.40!! This has a rich texture and a rosy scent. My skin loves it. Proper review to come. I also have totally fallen head-over-heels for the gorgeous Soul Tree Lipstick in Wild Honey 4g (£15.99) which is a beautiful make up and skincare product giving the lips a pop of nourishing colour in a very wearable shade which is perfect for autumn and winter.

I've tried Organic Works's Cleansing Face Wash 300ml (£15) before and it's absolutely fantastic. I love the rebranded packaging too. See my review HERE and the joy keeps on coming, also inside is a 12.5ml size of Madara's SCRUB Exfoliating Oil-to-Milk Scrub (£6) which I'm looking forward to trying.

Rounding up the box this month is two samples from Ayumi's Turmeric & Papaya range (my fav). I received their Body Scrub & Body Lotion. These are both 10ml and retail at 50p each.

Are you a subscriber? What do you think of the contents this month?

Sunday, 14 November 2021

*Amphora Aromatics: I Love Lavender Gift Box

As you'll know I'm a huge fan of Amphora Aromatics essential oils. Their range of gifts are fab too as well as being great value. I was very kindly gifted their "I Love Lavender Gift Box" which retails at £25. It's presented in a reusable brown box, which is always a bonus and tied with a beautiful purple ribbon.

Inside the box are 4 products -

Lavender & Chamomile Barrier Cream 60ml - a rich cream which soothes and hydrates. It's perfect to nourish hands after gardening and great for dry and rough skin. The cream has a lavender/chamomile aroma.  Lavender Gel 60ml - is super cooling (perfect for skin which has had too much sun). It's also great to use on insect bites and acne or as a skin nourisher and has a divine aroma.

Also inside the gift set is a mini Lavender Candle. It'll burn for 20 hours and is perfect to calm and relax before bed. It's made with pure essential oils and natural plant wax. Rounding up the gift is a 10ml bottle of Lavender High Altitude Essential Oil which can be used in an oil burner, in a carrier oil for baths or massage and is perfect to soothe insect bites, burns and acne.

A great value set which is perfect for any Lavender lover.

Monday, 8 November 2021

*Saskia's Flower Essences: Easy Sleep Mist

*giftedproduct AD I've been trying Saskia's Flower Essences Award Winning Easy Sleep Mist 100ml (£18)*. I first tried her essences* back in 2017 - see my review HERE and I've also tried the gorgeous Rose Beauty Mist.

The product comes in a huge glass spray bottle and is formulated with Lavender Hydrosol which is distilled in-house using Cricket Lavender, grown in Hampshire.

A variety of flower essences are added to help you switch off, relax, stop worrying and help you drift off. White Chestnut removes unwanted thoughts, Red Chestnut stops you worrying about others, Wild Garlic makes you feel safe and protected, Speedwell helps you to slow down, Oak helps you rest and recharge, Cherry Plum calms and Dandelion Seed helps you drift off. 

I did find the mist slightly more herbal than I was expecting. It contains a much larger spectrum of the aromatic and healing components of the plant rather than the distinct floral Lavender Essential Oil aroma.

To use: mist on your pillow and linens (and your space) before bed.

I have found the mist to be helpful and it's becoming a bedtime ritual. It does help you sleep!

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Latest Buys: By Sarah London, The Organic Alchemist, REN Clean Skincare, Desavery, Nudge Boutique + Kiss the Moon

Here are my latest buys. I'm enjoying this time as going into next year I'm going into operation use up.

Having recently tried By Sarah London's Hero Oil* (REVIEW) I was keen to try more from the range. Balancer Oil-to-Milk Cleanser and Reviver Hydrating Mist (personal favourite) are fantastic. A review to come of these buys.

Having recently discovered The Organic Alchemist on instagram I had to try something from the carefully curated and formulated range. I chose Deep Relax Bath Salts 250g (£28) which are exquisitely packaged and smell oh so good! I can highly recommend them to relax and soothe both the mind and body. Review soon!

I picked up an old favourite at Love Lula - REN Clean Skincare's divine Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil which I've loved for years. See my review from 2011 HERE. Pleased to have this beauty back in my stash.

Such happiness to have the delectable STELLAR Daily Serum by Desavery back in my stash. I first tried the award winning range as a Beauty Shortlist Judge (see my top picks from what I judged in 2020 HERE). 

I'd been wanting to try Nudge Boutique's Cocoa & Avocado Oil to Milk Facial Cleansing Bar for a while. Since I was picking up a couple of Christmas gifts I treated myself to it. It's gorgeous. Review to come.

Gorgeous Kiss the Moon soap set which I picked up at Love Lula. I reviewed the GLOW Pure Essential Oil Soap* HERE. Now the problem is, to gift or keep!

What have you been buying lately?

Thursday, 4 November 2021

*Review: Biggar Botanics

I've been trying out some products* which were kindly sent to me by founder and formulator, Caroline at Biggar Botanics. The range is handmade with as many natural ingredients as possible with recyclable or reusable packaging.

I was sent a whole range of products!

Fizzing Bath Dust (Wild Fig & Cassis) which gives the fizziness of a bath bomb in powder form! Sprinkle in as much as preferred and jump into the tub a lovely soak. These come in a variety of scents. If you're near New Lanark World Heritage Site they have a stall there every Saturday.

Thai Lime & Mango Dead Sea Salt Scrub is rich and creamy with an exotic scent. Salt particles give it a gentle scrubby feel. It leaves the skin feeling smooth, clean and deeply nourished.

Two lovely cold process soaps in Moroccan Mint Tea and Cranberry, Orange & Cinnamon - £4.50 each which smell gorgeous and give a beautiful scented lather. The little Bath/Shower T-bag smells intensely citrus - pop it under running water or attach to your shower head.

The Hand/Foot Balm comes in a recycled plastic tube and is formulated with skin loving butters and essential oils. It's got a delicious and fresh citrus scent thanks to the Orange & Lemon essential oils it contains. Rub over dry hands and feet for instant nourishment. Hand & Body Lotion has a beachy coconut scent and can be used on both the hands and body.

Have you tried any products from Biggar Botanics? I hear they make a range of wax melts now too in a vegetable wax (coconut & rapeseed) in a range of popular scents (see more info HERE).