Friday, 19 April 2013

April Glossybox

I don't normally post about Glossybox (read that as I've previously posted about it once), primarily because there are so many other (better) posts written about it that I don't think the bloggersphere really needs another post on the subject matter. But I am SO excited about what I received that I just had to share!

I had totally forgotten until I opened the outer packaging that April's box was another themed box. This time in collaboration with Pearl Lowe. I love the themed boxes, or more precisely the packaging of the themed boxes. I keep these boxes and store all manner of things in them from my muslin cloths, to nail polishes through to photos. Do you keep the boxes and if so what do you store in them?

This month it is the Spring Fever box and in my parcel I got:

  • SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+ Invisible Tint Finish. This is made in Australia and this product offers a broad spectrum sunscreen (which you would expect from an Australian company) with a sheer matte tint. I mostly use a tinted moisturiser with SPF in the warmer months so I am really keen to try this product. The only downside with the sample is it has one of those annoying snap off tops, so once it's open that's it, it's open to the elements and as there is more in this little tube than I would use in one day, I am probably going to have to keep it in a pot. (Just a little bugbear). This product retails for £18.50 for 75g and the sample size is 10g.
  • Nip + Fab Dry Skin Fix Body Butter in Coconut Latte. I've heard of Nip + Fab but have not tried any of their products until now. I tried this for the first time last night and it is a lovely rich but light lotion. I love coconut but couldn't quite get my head around what this scent reminded me of, until I asked Mr B.P. and he said PLAY-DOH, and Oh God is he right, it smells just like it, which has put me off slightly but I will keep using it! This product retails for £9.95 for 200ml and the sample size is 50ml.
  • ModelCo Cheek + Lip Tint in Rosy Red. This is the one product that I'm not so sure about. I really don't like these tint products and I would say this is quite like a stain. I found it to be very matte on the lip, so I think I will stick to using it on my cheeks only. I received a full sized product which is £15 for 10ml
  • So Elixir Purple Yves Rocher Eau de Parfum. Now I know a lot of you don't like receiving perfume samples in your subscription boxes but I don't wear perfume an awful lot and if they come in cute dinky little bottles like this one, then I am happy! As soon as I read it had a mix of tuberose, vetiver and patchoouli I was sold. I can see me getting a lot of use out of this scent. This product retails for £44 for 50ml and this sample was 5ml
  • Essie Nail polish in Nice is Nice. This is a gorgeous light lilac with a hint of grey, which will be great through the Spring and Summer months. Anyone who has read my blog long enough will know of my love for Essie polishes. I have posted a number of NOTD using their polishes and recommended them numerous times on other blogs, so much so that I should get commission from Essie hehe! I think I literally squealed when I found out this was inside (I am easily pleased). A full sized product came in this box which is 13.5ml for £7.99.
So all in all I am totally stoked with this months box . Do you subscribe to Glossybox and if so what did you get? Also are you a read from the 'magazine' first kinda gal or do you just sling that aside and rip right through that tissue paper?! I would love to know! (I am the former).

Thursday, 11 April 2013

March through the eyes of a bookworm

I didn't think I would get through as many books this month as the previous two, but what with the lovely long bank holiday weekend, which brought the sort of weather that didn't really invite gallivanting outdoors, I took advantage and managed to read two whole books over the Easter weekend. So a total of six books for review this month, all downloaded from the freebies on Kindle. (So no spending ban breached!) Hope you all had a fantastic Easter by the way?!

A Month at the Shore
A Month at the Shore by Antoinette Stockenberg
He was her childhood knight in shining Armour...but she wasn't a fairytale princess. Kendall Barclay III was a skinny, nerdy kid when he single-handedly took on a gang of bullies assaulting Laura Shore, a thirteen-year-old girl from the town's most notorious family. The childhood trauma became one more reason for Laura to flee the small Cape Cod town for the opposite coast and make a name for herself there. But now her tyrannical father is dead, her murderous uncle as well, and her beloved sister Corinne wants Laura and their black-sheep brother to come home and restore Shore Gardens, the family nursery fallen to rack and ruin, back to its former charm. Reluctantly, they promise Corinne one month. One month, for Laura to face down past memories which are anything but fond and to come to terms with the wild range of feelings she has for the man who is no longer either skinny or nerdy. It's a daunting assignment - made more so when a shocking discovery is made on the nursery grounds. Have knights in shining armour gone out of fashion? Laura will soon find out.

My Verdict - I was hesitant at first to read this, as those who have read my blog for a while will know of my dislike of chick-lit and I was afraid this would be too much of this ilk. But that said it did hold my attention and there was quite a surprise coming with regards to the shocking discovery. I would describe this as a good basic read with hints of chick-lit! 6/10
World War ll London Blitz Diary (A Woman's Revelations Enduring War and Marriage) (1939-1940)
World War II London Blitz Diary (A Woman's Revelations Enduring War and Marriage) by Ruby Alice Side-Thompson, Victoria Aldridge-Washuk, Adele Thompson-Aldridge
Imagine yourself seeing hundreds of Messerschmitt war planes overhead and hearing the explosion of bombs being dropped around you. Wondering if this is the day one will fall on your house. Ruby Side Thompson's personal diary was written during the terrifying World War Two London Blitz. Her diary is a true and detailed account of what she experienced during that horrific time. The diary chronicles Ruby's struggle to survive in the midst of a horrendous war, where London is bombed nightly. Ruby speaks candidly about her unhappiness enduring an unsatisfactory marriage. She was the mother of seven sons, two of whom were enlisted in the R.A.F. One of which became an amputee as the result of hitting a land mine and the other son was captured and sent to a concentration camp as a prisoner of war. Her tale is a mix of the commonplace and the historic as seen through her eyes. The diary was an outlet for Ruby's thoughts and feelings that could not be spoken out loud; however, in publishing the diary it gives readers an honest and unfiltered look back at a time that may have been long since forgotten. Join Ruby on her trying journey as she tries to keep her life and family together during this difficult time in history.

My Verdict - for some reason unbeknown to me even, I am obsessed with the war years. More from a personal rather than historical point of view. I like to read about how the average person coped during this period so I found this a fascinating read. Ruby was a feminist of her time, but you really see her struggle with her views in a time when women where still seen as beneath men (has that ever really changed?! I won't start a debate here). Plus you need to be aware that some of the language is of the time. Obviously a diary is subjective so you can't tell how bad her marriage really was as the story is obviously one sided, and there are many times in the diary were she writes about her husband with affection. The biggest thing I took from this book was how little I knew about the nightly air raids and how they could have six plus a night! No-one seems to mention in modern history the sleep deprivation people went through during the war years. This book is 1 of 4 volumes. I have yet to read the rest. 8/10
Wait For Me 
Wait for Me by Elisabeth Naughton
A woman without a past......After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn't feel right. She's had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can't be anyone but a daughter Kate didn't know she had. A man desperate for a reason to live......Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want - money, fame and power - but he'd give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves. Two lives about to converge. As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn't remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost. Kate feels a draw to Ryan, one she can't explain, but is that feeling enough to convince her this is where she's supposed to be? As Ryan and Kate search for answers, they uncover lies long buried, a passion hotter than either expected and a danger that threatens...even now...when the second chance they've both been searching for is finally within reach.

My Verdict - I really need to stop shopping the Kindle store late at night, as this just screams of chick-lit! OK so it was an easy read the same as A Month at the Shore, but not really up my street. I guessed what was about to happen before it did, which is always a disappointment when reading a book and why does sex in novels always seem to solve everything?! I don't buy it. 6/10
H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius
A deadly influenza virus rages out of control. There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment. Only death. With no workforce, power plants are unmanned so there's no means of communication; police and fire departments have collapsed so no one is safe; looters are scavenging everything from big-screen TVs to canned peas. When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital's armoured van for a midnight escape. Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway. Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there. 

My Verdict - OK there appears to be no hint of romance in the synopsis, so why do they always have to ruin it and have the main characters get it on?! Why? it's not necessary in a good book. Also this book felt like it was written by two different authors! Some parts of it were well written and engaging and then parts of it just flagged. If I am Legend, and 28 days had a love child, this book would be it. 7/10
She's Not Coming Home
 She's Not Coming Home by Philip Cox
Every morning at 8:30 Ruth Gibbons kisses her husband and son goodbye, and sets off for work. Every evening at 5pm, she finishes work, texts 'leaving now' to her husband Matthew, and begins her walk home. Every night at 5:40 she arrives home, kisses her husband and son, and has dinner with her family. Except tonight. Matthew thought he had a pretty normal life. A nice home, a happy marriage, a beautiful son, and a job he enjoys. Then it all changed. He informs the police that Ruth has not returned home, but decides to search for her himself as well. His first call is to her place of work, where to his disbelief nobody has heard of her. He begins to look further, and what he finds causes him to doubt everything he thought he knew about his wife, and to question his own sanity.

My Verdict - I have to say, the synopsis reads better than the actual book. The book is clever and there are some twists and turns and a few dead ends in there just to throw you off balance which I enjoyed; as I hate it when you guess the outcome before you reach it. I did feel the end was rather rushed though but a good read nonetheless and would recommend. 8/10
Read No Evil
 Read No Evil by Steven W. White
A new electronically-published fantasy novel is sweeping the nation. Everyone is reading it. Some love it, some hate it, and some vanish without a trace. High School English teacher Jan Fitzgerald adores literature. But her students have begun to disappear, and somehow this new ebook is responsible. To protect the people she loves, she must discover how the nationwide outbreaks of violence and missing persons could be caused by the latest fiction craze. Jan comes to accept the extraordinary possibility that the ebook connects to a readers subconscious...and uploads instructions. Suddenly, the man she loves falls victim as well, and cannot be found. Jan has no choice but to read the ebook herself, and hope that she can resist its power long enough to unravel the mystery. And you must read it with her.

My Verdict - Quite a novel (no pun intended!) take on the phenomenon of the ereader generation. Two points in the synopsis which weren't quite correct in the book are; the nationwide outbreak of missing persons isn't covered, it appears Jan is doing all the detective work on her own AND she starts to read the ebook BEFORE the man she loves goes missing. I'm a stickler for this! It did make me think 'could something like this really be possible with all this technology'? Probably not, but we never know where technology and science will take us...7/10

My favourite for the month of March is a toss-up between World War II London Blitz Diary and She's Not Coming Home.
What have you been reading this month?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Advice for my younger self

Interesting idea for students:   Letter to My Younger Self
I quite often look back at my life, not that I'm over the hill at 41(!), and think about things I would tell my younger self. In particular my younger self of my late teens/early 20s. I see a fair amount of angst filled blog posts and tweets from worried/disillusioned twenty somethings so I thought I would list some advice I would give to my younger self and maybe it will help someone out there......

This too shall pass. No matter how hard something seems, it will pass. Things may not turn out to be as perfect as you hoped but they will be a lot better than in the eye of the storm.

Learn to enjoy your own company. There is a great difference in being alone and being lonely. The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself.

On the above note, live alone (flat sharing doesn't count). It is a great way to find out who you really are and what makes you tick.

Never see higher education as a debt, if you view it as an investment (in your future) then it will be money well spent.

On the above note, don't assume YOU should go to University just because it is expected of you, there are great careers which don't involve going down the formal academic route. Find out what is right for you.

But do get some industry recognised qualifications, they will be worth their weight in gold in the long run.

Life is a journey, not a race (and heaven forbid not a competition). Sometimes you will be ahead, sometimes you will be behind, but you will always be where you should be and everyones journey is different.

You will never look better than you do now (in your late teen/early twenties), so OK your fashion sense might take a while before you find what suits you but your skin will never be as freshly plump and line free as it is now, so stop bitching about lines which you cannot see because I'm telling ya when they do appear, you will really know about it!

On that note, use good quality skincare products suited to your skin type. You are never too young to start on a skincare regime and don't forget to use eye gel/neck cream. Although you can't currently see the damage/aging which is taking place, it is happening under the surface. Taking care of your skin will reaps benefits in the long run.

Learn to love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love and respect you when you
think so little of yourself?

Never be too big/afraid/angry to say Sorry. Sorry may only be a small word but it could have a big impact on someone else.

Forgive those who have wronged you. You don't need to forgive them to their face, but forgive them in your heart and let the anger go. Holding onto anger is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

As cliched as it sounds, material things don't mean a jot. Yep they are nice to have, but the most precious things you will ever have will be the friends and family you surround yourself with.

It's never too late to reinvent yourself. Don't think you are too old to re-train/start again, you have more years ahead of you than have already passed.

Don't ever think you aren't good enough. YOU ARE.

Travel. Seeing other countries and cultures will enrich your life beyond measure.

Ditch toxic relationships. Be they friends/family/partner/work. If something makes you feel bad about yourself then let it go. We are not here to be a metaphorical punchbag for others.

There's a lot to be said in the saying 'Do something every day that scares you' Now I'm not advocating playing chicken on the M25, I mean push the boundaries on your comfort zone, it will make you more resilient when things don't go the way you planned. Because lets face it they don't always go the way you planned because it's called life.

It's good to have a game plan but don't expect it to play out exactly as you wish. In the words of John Lennon - 'Life is what happens when you're busy making plans' THIS IS SO TRUE.

Never stop learning. It can be anything - the piano/a language/baking the perfect cake, but never stop. If you stop learning you might as well stop living.

Don't expect to have it all 'figured out' by the time you are 21. I don't think any of us ever really figure it out and there is nothing wrong with that.

The only thing you ever really have control over is your own thoughts. You can plan life as much as you want, but sometimes things just don't work out the way you planned and can leave you disappointed and despondent. How you THINK about the outcome and if you focus on it negatively or positively is the thing which will make all the difference.

Follow the path which is right for YOU and not the one others want/expect you to take.

Manners don't cost a thing. Use them.

See the beauty in everyday; it surrounds you, if you just stop and take a closer look.

What advice would you give your younger self?