*New York Inspired Mood Board

Friday, September 30, 2016
*New York Inspired Mood Board
Wanderlust is in full force right now, I just want to travel! The top cities and countries on my list are Norway (luckily I'm going there next summer), Iceland and America. I'd love to visit quite a few places in America such as California, New England, Oregon and of course, New York. So many bloggers seem to have been going to New York this month and it's making me want to visit the big apple even more! This post is a collaboration with Thomson.

New York seems to be such a vibrant, modern, exciting and interesting city to visit. As I'm definitely not into beach holidays, modern, exciting and interesting cities to visit are perfect for me as I love to visit the main sights of the places I visit and there are SO many sights to see in New York such as Time Square, The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, 9/11 memorial and more (obvs, I'd also LOVE to visit Sephora too). I think I'd especially love to visit in the autumn months as I think the gorgeous autumnal hues in Central Park would be gorgeous, yes, I'm thinking about blog photos...#BloggerProblems

New York fashion week was this month which again made me want to visit even more; however I wasn't as interested in the shows as the street style! Everyone in New York seems to be so chic and put together while being effortless and modern. I have a few examples in my mood board above of the gorgeous street style looks from around New York fashion week. Longline masculine style coats seem to be prevalent which I'm all for as well as chic, simple accessories and outfits on the whole and gorgeous ankle boots.

What do you think of my New York mood board? Have you visited New York? Where do you want to travel to next? 

Cozy Autumn Candles ft. Gift Company

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Cozy Autumn Candles ft. Gift Company
Candles are a year round essential for me, I love the way they make any room instantly homely, cozy and more autumnal but I do tend to burn more candles from late August until mid-spring when the days are still chilly and a bit dark. I was very kindly sent a few gorgeous candles from the lovely people at Gift Company.

*Gift Company Salted Caramel Candle (£6.99, SALE)
Last year I discovered the gloriousness of salted caramel, yes, I know years behind everyone else so I was excited to try this salted caramel candle out. The design is similar to a certain large candle brand so obviously I like the design and look of the candle. The scent isn't quite what I thought it would be, it's really musky, festive and rich whereas I thought it would be chocolatey and sweet. Although having said that I do like the scent, it's very autumnal but not really salted caramel in my opinion. As with other large jar candles I've tried over the years, I do find that they burn fairly evenly but I can get some tunnelling with large jar candles, no matter what the brand is. The scent is relatively subtle but I think that is a pretty good thing with this scent as if it was strong, it could definitely be too overpowering. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*Gift Company Fireside Snooze Candle (£6.99, SALE)
This candle is the one I was SO excited about as it reminded me of a Bath and Body Works candle, I can't remember the name but I've wanted it for ages. Again, I quite like the packaging and the design. The scent of this candle is gorgeous, it's musky, deep and almost leathery, if that makes sense. It reminds me of the leather sofa and fire that was in my granddads house when I was a child. The scent is subtle and I wish it was a little stronger as it's a lovely autumn/winter scent. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Cozy Autumn Candles ft. Gift Company
*Gift Company Capuccino Truffle Candle (£3.99, SALE)
Ok, this one is my favourite of the three that I have as it's such a lovely vanilla, rich and creamy scent which is perfect for the autumn season as it's a really cozy and warming scent, to me anyway. I love the packaging so much more than the  other candles - it looks more professional, clean looking and interesting. It's a smaller candle so there is no issue burning it and I cannot recommend it enough. Also for the price all three candles are amazing and well worth checking out. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

What do you think of these candles? Have you bought anything from Gift Company? What candle scents do you love to burn during the Autumn months? 

Blogger Q+A: Blogging In Autumn

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Blogger Q&A: Blogging In Autumn
Today's post is a very exciting one! It's my second Blogger Q&A post (you can check out the first if you want which was all about working with PRs) and I'm so glad that quite a lot of blogers want to be involved, it brings back lovely memories of the early days of blogging for me when there was such an incredible sense of community. The Q&A for the month of September is all about Blogging in Autumn with some lovely bloggers!

Question One: Are there any negatives about blogging in Autumn?
Jennifer: I adore autumn but for me, things tend to ramp up in pace so I find it difficult to keep on top of blogging alongside my personal life, especially keeping up with social media - long gone seem the days of just writing and taking photos! 

Ellis: The biggest negative about blogging in Autumn is the change in natural lighting. It gets increasingly darker each day and the lighting can change very quickly. My biggest bugbear when it comes to Autumnal lighting is the warm amber glow that often appears at about 3-4pm. This is beautiful to look at when you’re not trying to take blog photographs but it seriously impacts my aims to achieve light and bright blog photographs.

Fiona: Instantly I thought about the lack of good natural light when it comes to Autumn. This definitely makes taking images much more tricky and you can't shoot after a certain time in the afternoon!

Lauren: I think the biggest negative for me (and a lot of bloggers) is the lack of natural light for taking photos. There's no lightness before or after work, and it's generally very grey even when I am off. 

Kara: For me, no! I used to have real trouble with photography as the hours of natural day light are so much shorter, but I invested in a professional lighting box last year so I can shoot any time of day or night now! I actually find that I feel so much more productive in Autumn/Winter, so my blogging game always steps up around this time of year. 

Question Two: Do you change your blog design/photo props/photo style during the colder months? 
Jennifer: I use a lot of flowers in my phoography and they’re more of a seasonal item so I think my photos tend to look a bit more autumnal. I don’t theme my blog design around the seaosn but I’ve been thinking about tweaking my blog design lately. 

Ellis: I often switch up photo props in the colder months. This can be as simple as adding some new trinkets, leaves or decorative pumpkins to shots or using a different rug or area of floor to take my photo on. It’s also the perfect time to add in anything copper or rose gold related.

Fiona: When writing about Autumn or anything related that’s cosy seeming I do try to have a autumnal theme to my photos but generally I like them to stay bright and white!

Lauren: I haven't previously but this year I've really been trying to improve my photography so I do want to try and add more texture and greys to try and give my photos a cozier feel. As for my design, it stays the same.

Kara: Usually yes! I love adding in seasonal props and last year was all about the munchkin pumpkins (so cute)! I have recently started to try to stick to a colour palette in both my blog posts and instagram, which is blushed pink and gold. I think this year I’m going to try to stick to that, but incorporate Autumn appropriate props where ever I possibly can. I get totally obsessed with Pinterest at this time of year too, there’s always so much inspiration for visuals on there. 

Question Three: What do you love (or hate) most about Autumn?
Jennifer: I’ve a natural affinity for autumn as my birthday is in October but one of my favourite things about it is the light - I’ve an insatiable appetite for the warm glow the season brings. 

Ellis: I’m a big fan of wrapping up in the brisk cold air and Autumn has to be my favourite season when it comes to fashion and adding quite a few new pieces to my wardrobe. When it comes to what I hate, I really despise waking up when it’s still dark outside. It’s even worse when you head out of the house in the morning and it’s still dark.

Fiona: I seriously love most things about Autumn – I can't get enough of it! However when it gets to November I can't say I love the cold weather. I have a condition that affects the circulation in my hands and feet, which basically means I'm allergic to the cold!

Lauren: I just love how cozy everything is. The layers, the candles, the scents, everything about it make me feel cozy. I also love the crisp mornings... Perfect for a walk!

Kara: Let me start off by saying Autumn is without a doubt my favourite time of year, so I don’t hate a single thing about it. As soon as I notice the leaves begin to turn I feel instantly happier! Where to begin with what I love…cosy jumpers and socks, dark crisp evenings, the beautiful reds, yellows and oranges that suddenly appear in nature’s colour palette, candles (especially my Diptyque ones), berry lipsticks, dark nail colours, good books, halloween and bonfire night, wooly hats, wellie boots, Pumpkin Spice Latte’s…I literally could go on forever! 

Question Four: Are there any upcoming beauty, book or holiday releases you’re looking forward to or any Autumn posts you’re excited to publish?
Jennifer: I’ve recently posted my 7 favourite lipsticks for transitioning into fall which was pretty exciting - and the first time this years I’ve got to play with burgundy props - one of my favourite colours. I can’t wait for the big holiday makeup collections to come out too, and I think I'm finally going to talk about my skincare routines, as I’ve had so many requests. 

Ellis: I always get really excited for the holiday beauty releases. It’s a great time to grab a bargain as many of the sets and kits include some big beauty products for a lot less than purchasing them individually. It’s also fantastic to try out new products thanks to little gift sets too. I’m particularly looking forward to Too Faced’s Christmas In New York collection launching and hope to pick up some beauty Advent calendars too this year.

Fiona: I love seeing previews of Christmas gift sets and I actually can't wait for the new Zoella Lifestyle range to launch (I need that marble thermal cup!). Also this years Boots Christmas catalogue is out 3rd October, so we don't have long to wait for that.

Lauren: I can't say there are any releases I am particularly looking forward to but I am looking forward to posting about my favourite Autumn makeup! I might also try to start some OOTD's this Autumn! 

Kara: In terms of releases, I get more excited about the Christmas launches. I’ve already seen a sneak peek of the Dityque advent calendar and am crazy excited. There are so many amazing beauty advent calendars around now (how insane was the Charlotte Tilbury one last year?) which makes advent all the more fun! For posts, I have already kicked off my Autumnal posts with one dedicated to curling up with a good book! There’s plenty more in the pipeline but I don’t want to give too much away, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled! 

Jennifer: Blog - Twitter
Ellis: Blog - Twitter
Fiona: Blog - Twitter
Lauren: Blog - Twitter

Kara: Blog - Twitter

What do you think of the September edition of my Blogger Q&A series? What are your favourite things about Autumn? Feel free to answer the questions yourself in the comments below! 

Pyjama Wish List ft. Simply Be

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Pyjama Wish List ft. Simply Be
Let's be honest, the autumn and winter season is basically pyjama season! If it was acceptable to live in pyjamas all of the time then I would live in pyjamas all of the time. I just love to be cozy, comfy and snuggly especially when the weather starts to get chilly. This is a sponsored post.

I usually buy my pyjamas from Primark because come on Harry Potter pyjamas are amazing but I want to get some more fancy, high quality pyjamas. I have been browsing through a few sites and I've found some amazingly cute and cozy looking womens pyjamas from Simply Be.

Pretty Secrets Fluffy Set  -  Grey Lounge Onesie  -  Pink Supersoft Robe (SALE)  -  Star Gazing Pyjamas  -  Star PJ Set

Can you tell I love stars...three of these sets have stars on them and I need them all! My favourite set is the star gazing set! All of the pyjama sets looks so cute, cozy and simple which I'm all for. They have such a wide range of sets and individual pyjamas bottoms/tops to choose from and there are quite a few on sale too.

What do you think of these pyjamas? Where do you get your PJs from?

Autumn Haul ft. Sammydress

Monday, September 26, 2016
Autumn Haul ft. Sammydress
Autumn is here and I couldn't be happier to see the end of summer as the weather over the past few months has been so muggy, humid and warm which I hate! It's started to become chilly and I love it as it means, layering, tights, boots and all of the knitwear I could possible wear. I was very kindly sent a few autumnal products to try out from the lovely people at Sammydress.

The first item I chose was the *Sammydress Short Sleeve Flare Red Dress ($10.43) which is the kind of dress I wear pretty much everyday. I love t-shirt dresses, they are so quick and easy to style and they are so comfortable too; plus they hide food babies really well...The colour is perfect for the autumnal and christmassy seasons. I've just paired it with black tights (Primark, obviously), Newlook ankle boots and my Newlook faux leather jacket.

My favourite item is something I wouldn't usually choose but I'm in love with it; the *Sammydress Crossbody Star Bag ($12.88) which is just perfect. The bag came so cutely packaged, I think the brand logo is a bear and it's adorable. The bag is bigger than I thought it would be, it's also really thick, durable and sturdy. It comes in gold, silver and black, I love the gold, it's gorgeous! I will be using this bag so much throughout halloween, christmas and new year.
Autumn Haul ft. Sammydress
The last three items are gorgeous t-shirts that are perfect for layering and more importantly lounge wear because lets be honest, the autumn/winter months are ALL for lounge wear and cozy pyjamas! My favourite t-shirt is the *Sammydress Letter Print T-Shirt ($8.22) which is currently sold out in the size I have which is M, medium. The T-Shirt says 'Awkward Is My Speciality', well it spells speciality differently but I am still getting so much use out of this tee. The slogan couldn't sum me up better; also the fabric is SO soft!

I also have the *Sammydress Simple Scoop Neck T-Shirt ($6.74) which is also so so soft, it looks and feels like it is from Topshop! I love the simple design, it is perfect for everyday and lounge wear. The last one I had to get because it's a bit halloweeny (if that is even a word!?); the *Sammydress Alien Print T-Shirt ($10.92) which is a 'one size' T-Shirt. The fit isn't great on me, it's a little short and a little tight and I'm a UK size 8-10, I'm still going to wear it as I LOVE the little alien and raglan design.

Overall, I love all but one of the items, the one I wasn't crazy about is the alien t-shirt and that's just because of the fit, not the quality or design. I am so happy with the dress, bag and grey T-Shirts and I can't recommend them enough! The quality is fantastic, I love the simple designs and the prices are amazing! Sammydress also has an app which you can download from the app store.

What do you think of the items I chose? Have you bought from Sammydress?

Halloween Treats Ft. Indigo Herbs

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Halloween Treats Ft. Indigo Herbs
I've reviewed a few products from Indigo Herbs on this blog and also on my vegetarian food blog over the past year or so and I've loved everything. I'm really grateful to be able to try these products, some of which are amazing and I probably wouldn't have tried them if I didn't blog. I was very kindly sent some of the Indigo Herbs Halloween themed products (Halloween is my favourite season so I'm super excited about these products, you'll see why if you read on!).

First up, my favourite product of the three, the *Indigo Herbs Organic Raw Pumpkin Seed Butter (£5.99, 250g) which is perfect for the autumn aka. pumpkin everything season. I love munching on seeds and they are great to add to salads and within homemade granola, flapjacks and crumbles; however the only nut/seed 'butter' I've tried is peanut butter so I was intrigued by this pumpkin seed butter. To fit with the halloween theme, the butter is green! It has a rich, nutty/seed and almost smoky flavour which I love! I've been using a small amount (a little goes a long way) on seeded crackers and almost as an icing on cinnamon muffins. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the texture, it's quite runny in the tub but when you eat it, it has quite a thick sticky consistency but for the price I think it is well worth a try! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
Halloween Treats Ft. Indigo Herbs
Next up, the *Indigo Herbs Cat's Claw Powder (£7.99, 100g). No cats were harmed in the making of this powder, although it's very witch like isn't it? I can imagine the experimenters at Indigo Herbs are looming over a beaker adding powders of various animals and plants into it and crackling...Can you tell I've had too much coffee and it doesn't help that I'm really excited about Halloween!

Anyway Cat's Claw is actually a vine that grows up to 30 metres in height in the rainforest of Peru. The bark of the vine is ground into a fine powder and that's what Cat's Claw Powder is. It can be added to juice or smoothies, I've been adding it to the latter. It doesn't have much flavour, it just adds a little earthy flavour if that makes sense - maybe I'm not using enough in my smoothies. It has anti-inflammatory properties which may help if you swollen joints etc but I think you may need to use quite a bit to have a noticeable effect. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
Halloween Treats Ft. Indigo Herbs
I'm loving all of these product names, first we have pumpkin butter, then Cat's Claw powder and now the *Indigo Herbs Devil's Claw Tea (£3.99, 50g). I love tea, well not traditional English tea but herbal, mint and green tea so I was excited to give this a go, especially with a name like Devil's Claw Tea! The tea is composed of the dried root of a desert plant from Namibia and has been used by the San Bushman for centuries; as with the Cat's Claw Powder it is great for those with joint pain.

Unlike all of the other tea varieties I have, with this one you boil a couple of teaspoons of the tea in 300ml of water on the stove and then strain into a mug. I didn't read this part when I first used it, I just used my loose tea infuser and it made such a strong mug of tea - it was really intense and bitter so definitely follow the instructions! I'm not crazy about this tea sadly but I still think it's worth a try. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5.

Have you tried anything from Indigo Herbs? What do you think of these Halloween themed products? Are you excited for Halloween?

*Bidvine Quotes

Friday, September 23, 2016
*Bidvine Quotes
Images from Pinterest
Today's post is a little different but I think it could be helpful to my British followers. It's all about Bidvine which is a website where you can get quick quotes for various services such as decorating, domestic services, music lessons, personal training, jewellery repair, accounting and so much more, including photography which is what I'm going to focus on.

The website is really quick and easy to use, you just search for the services you want (we will definitely be looking for gardening services via Bidvine soon!) and enter your postcode to get quotes from companies and individuals in your area. There are so many services that you can search for, there are some I never even thought of to search for. The website has been featured on the BBC, The Independent and The Evening Standard.

I've been looking at quotes for photography services in Manchester, as a blogger it's something I really want to get into because to be honest as much as I love my dad, his photography skills aren't the very best (sorry dad!) so I'd love to be able to have higher quality OOTD photos - as soon as I get the confidence to have my outfit photos taken in public! I'm getting there!

There are lots of photographer options to choose from including pet photography, family photos, wedding and baby photography services. The process of filling out the options for the quotes is really quick and easy, it only takes a couple of minutes and you can then get the quotes for services in your postcode but it's still quite specific so you probably won't get quotes that aren't suitable. You don't have to create an account, you can sign in via Google Plus or Facebook which is great. I'll definitely be recommending this sites to friends and family. This is a sponsored post.

Have you visited Bidvine? Will you use it to look for services? If you are a blogger, do you use a photographer to take your OOTD/fashion photographs? 

*Hygge Inspired Cozy Autumn Wish List

Thursday, September 22, 2016
Hygge Inspired Cozy Autumn Wish List
Today is the first day of Autumn and I'm beyond excited about that! I love everything about autumn, from the chilly crisp mornings and hot chocolate to candles, halloween and all of the cozy autumnal clothing! I work from home so I'm always looking out for more comfy, cozy clothing and autumn is the perfect season for coziness AKA. hygge.

I found all of these gorgeous items via LoveTheSales which is a fantastic site where you can search for specific items and it will show you the results from a wide range of stores so you don't have to search all of the stores individually. You can also add filters to the search so you can just find items in your size, preferred colour, price range etc which is amazing and such a time saver. It mainly focuses on clothing but it has a section for sport, the home and more.

Yumi Open Back Jumper  -  Zalando Cosabella Triangle Bra  -  Eberjey Pyjama Bottoms  -  Ugg Slippers  (Ugg Sale) -  Miss Selfridge Knitted Jumper  -  Asos Petite Oversized Shirt 

There's my autumnal, hygge inspired wish list, I will probably end up buying some of these times by the end of the day...oops. I love the shirt especially and the triangle bra! Also you should definitely check out LoveTheSales, it's a fantastic site!

What do you think of my wish list? Any hygge/cozy items on your autumn wish list? Have you checked out LoveTheSales? 

Essence Autumn/Winter Picks

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Essence has been one of my favourite highstreet brands for the past couple of years and I cannot recommend their products enough - I've been lucky enough to be sent quite a lot of products over the past couple of years but I've purchased items myself as I genuinely love the brand. Today's post is all about a few of the new autumn/winter products from Essence that I'm loving!

Let's start with one of my favourite Essence products, mascaras. The *Essence Rock 'n' Doll Mascara (£2.80) which I've been using so much recently. The mascara makes my lashes defined, super black and volumized but not a crazy amount of volume as it claims but for the price it's a fantastic mascara. I personally adore their waterproof mascaras.

Another product that Essence makes really well is nail polish; I have the new *Essence The Gel Polish in 78 Royal Blue (£1.60) which is the perfect shade for the autumn/winter months; I don't have anything quite like this shade in my collection. The brush is so wide, it makes application very quick and easy - it's so really opaque so only one coat is needed. I don't have the base coat or top coat from the range so it doesn't last that long but it's still well worth trying!
Next up, the very on trend *Essence Matt Matt Matt Long-lasting Lip Gloss in Girl Of Today which is such a gorgeous dusky rose shade that is definitely the kind of shade that I love to wear all year round. The applicator is a little unusual and quite large but it's a lovely product. I love the almost mousse like texture and while it doesn't dry down to be fully matte, it does have a nice finish. It lasts through drinking and eating but not quite as well as the NYX products I've tried although it is half the price.

Finally, the *Essence The Metals Single Shadow in Deep Sea Shimmer (£2) which is such a gorgeous shade and again it's unlike any other shade in my collection. I'm not a massive fan of single shadows as I don't tend to reach for them as much as palettes. The pigmentation isn't amazing when used dry but it would be great if you just wanted a simple wash of colour - when used wet it is very pigmented! It would be perfect for a smokey eye with a red lip!

Overall, I cannot recommend Essence products enough! I love the packaging, shades, quality and the price - you really can't beat Essence products. I love their lip products, polishes and mascaras. To see more Essence products, check out my other posts. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!

Have you tried anything from Essence? 

Organic September: Antipodes Skincare

Monday, September 19, 2016
Today is the start of Organic Beauty Week and the whole of the month is Organic September. Today I have a post all about a fantastic organic brand that I cannot recommend enough - Antipodes. I have tried quite a few Antipodes products over the past year or two, all of which have been amazing for my temperamental, dry and eczema prone skin.

I was very kindly sent the *Antipodes Divine Face Oil (£19.99, 30ml) which is perfect for the upcoming colder months (if the English weather ever gets the memo that it is now Autumn!). The facial oil contains avocado oil, rosehip, jojoba oil, vitamin E and many more natural ingredients - numerous ingredients are certified organic as well as vegetarian society approved.

When the colder months come around I always change my skincare, I add in more hydrating and richer products such as facial oils to my routine. The oil has an unusual scent, as most Antipodes products do; it's very earthy and musky scent which I personally like but it may not be for everyone. The facial oil is quite rich and leaves my skin very moisturised, smooth and comfortable although I don't use it under makeup as it is a bit too rich. It doesn't irritate my skin at all and it's perfect as part of my evening skincare routine! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Next up, this product was such a cult classic a year or two ago with so many youtubers raving about it - the *Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask (£22.99, 75ml). I have wanted to try this mask for ages and I'm so glad that I now have it as it's such a lovely mask, especially for my dry and sensitive skin. The mask is creamy, it doesn't dry down and it doesn't strip my skin. It leaves my skin smooth, so, moisturised and comfortable - it's well worth trying especially if you do have sensitive skin. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried anything from Antipodes? Do you change your skincare during the colder months?

Book Review: Blood Wedding by Pierre Lamaitre

Thursday, September 15, 2016
I haven't read anything by this author before but when an opportunity arose via Twitter to review a signed copy of *Blood Wedding by Pierre Lamaitre (£7.99, paperback is available next year but the hardback is available now) I couldn't say no; it;s published by the lovely people at Quercus Books! I don't have many signed books in my collection, I only started getting into reading again this year, but it's nice to have signed copies on my shelves. Thrillers as well as mystery novels are some of my favourite types of books to read so this ticks a lot of boxes for me. I think if you're a fan of thrillers, mysteries or crime novels then you will love this book!

The book follows Sophie, as well as her husband, a unusual stranger and to an extent her friends and father through a series of unexplainable, gruesome and tragic events. Sophie keeps forgetting things she's done, misplacing items and it's starting to worry her and her husband. The book jumps between the past and the present, describing events Sophie has gone through and what she is currently going through. Things are not as they appear, she has done things that are unexplainable and horrific, or that may not be the case...

There are lots of events in this book that are initially unexplainable and unusual as well as gruesome however as events start to unfold and you learn more about Sophie's past, her mother and about the events that she can't explain as well as the disturbed individual stalking her. It's split into three main parts and as the book progressed it did become more interesting and mysterious however I did guess the main twist in the book, it was a little predictable. I like the mystery surrounding the crimes and the past of both the main characters, although it was quite disturbing at times. iThe book overall has such an eerie feel which make it perfect for this time of year as Halloween is almost here (well, in my mind it is!). It's quite a fast paced, action and suspense filled read that left me wanting to know how the novel ends but I did have some problems with it as a whole. I love the writing style, it's very easy to read and I managed to get through the book which is 312 pages long in a couple of days. The book in some places reads like a diary but there are also newspaper articles within the book to as well as psychological/clinical assessments.

Overall I liked the book, I can't say nearly as much as I want to because I will give quite a lot of the plot away but I did find that the ending was unusual and out of character for Sophie, she seems to have changed so much from the beginning of the book and the explanations for what happened with the main characters seemed a bit bleh, if that's makes sense. There are some psychological reasons given for what happened but as someone with a first class BSc psychology degree, I found them to be a little imaginative and nonsensical. I was left with quite a few questions when I finished as some things about the main characters actions didn't make sense and I feel as though it could possibly have been explained better, if that makes sense. The book does contain a lot of crime and murder as well as some psychological aspects, suicide, stalking and depression so if those are triggering topics for you then maybe this isn't the best book for you. However, I think if you like crime, mystery and thriller novels then this will be a great autumn or halloween read! Oh and I have to add that I love the cover, I only realised towards the end that some of the rose petal edges are screaming faces...that kind of sets the tone for the book! Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5. 

Have you read this book? Have you read anything by Pierre Lamaitre? What are you currently reading - any autumn/halloween recommendations? 

Nails Inc Paint Can Polishes

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Nails Inc has been one of my favourite brands for years, I always received Nails Inc sets fro my aunties. Dorchester Square and Baker Street are my two all time favourite shades and I can't recommend them enough. I was very excited when an email and parcel arrived from the lovely people at Nails Inc, I received two of their Paint Can polishes, a gorgeous makeup bag and a base/top coat.

When the Nails Inc Paint Can polishes were released I was very intrigued, there was a PR opportunity to meet Alexa Chung at a launch event in the Trafford Centre which I couldn't get to so I'm glad I now have a couple of polishes to test out. I have the *Nails Inc Pain Can Spray Polish in Good As Gold (£10, 36g) which is a limited edition shade created by Lottie Tomlinson.

I didn't know how well these spray can nail polishes would turn out as it's such a new and interesting concept; I imagined it would be quite messy and a bit gimmicky but I was wrong! To use, you first apply the base/top coat and then shake the can well and spray in short bursts onto each nail. I find that shaking the can in-between each nail application helps to get the most even coat. It is a little messy but no where near as messy as I thought it would be. The spray is relatively easy to control, it coats the nails well for the most part although sometimes it can be quite patchy and it dries very quickly!
You are supposed to be able to remove the excess polish from the skin using warm soapy water but I didn't find that it worked well to remove most of the excess; instead I use a cotton bud with nail polish remove to get rid of the excess polish from my skin - in the end I used masking tape to cover most of my skin so there would be a lot less to clean up.

Once the polish is dry and I've cleaned up the excess, it does look very neat but a little patchy especially for my first use so I applied the top coat which is amazing! The top coat adds a glossy finish and it really helps to correct the patchiness so even though it's said to be an optional step, I'd say that it is essential for a neat, even finish. The As Good As Gold shade is very pretty but I haven't been able to get a completely opaque finish, I think it's meant to be used in conjunction with another polish.
I also received the *Nails Inc Paint Can Polish in Mayfair Market (£10, 36g) which is such an incredibly gorgeous copper/rose gold shade - it matches my rose gold record player perfectly! The shade is darker in real life than it's is in the photo above. The application was a bit easier than the first shade as I've been able to practise a little and you do need to practice to be able to get a even finish. I love this shade, it's perfect for autumn and I've had it on my nails for the past few days and I do have tip wear but no chips yet. 

Overall, I'm actually really impressed with both of the spray can polishes, especially the Mayfair Market shade. They are much quicker and easier to use than I thought they would be, the topcoat is fantastic and with a bit of practice I was able to get an even, neat and gorgeous manicure. The only downside is the clean up but with masking tape, it isn't as time consuming or messy. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5. 

Here's a little video demo of the polishes!



Have you tried the Nails Inc spray can polishes? 

I've just found out that I'm in the top ten best beauty blogs in Manchester, that was a lovely surprise! 

Secret Scent Subscription Box

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Perfume is one of those beauty items I will always want to have a wide collection of, I always love to try new fragrances although most are fairly pricey; so sample sizes and subscription boxes are an amazing way of trying new fragrances without having to pay the full price. Also I always have a couple of fragrance samples in my bag, just in case I need them throughout the day.

I was kindly sent the *Secret Scent Box (£15) which is a monthly UK fragrance sample subscription box in which you receive three mystery fragrances per month - there's a box for women's fragrances and a box of men's fragrances. It's letterbox friendly so you don't need to be at home for it to be delivered, it contains designer fragrances in Secret Scent Box packaging and the three samples together are supposed to last for three months, although with me they definitely won't last that long!
The fragrances I received in this months box include: Versace Vanitas, YSL Mon Paris and Burberry Touch For Women. I haven't tried any of these fragrances which is one of the best things with subscription boxes, as they can introduce you to new brands/products you haven't tried before. The fragrances come well packaged and they are all spray bottles.

Versace Vanitas EDP: Freesia, Rose, Osmanthus, Tiare Flower, Cedar & Tea
The fragrance to me is a classic, musky but sweet fragrance that would be perfect as an evening fragrance. I think it could be viewed as an 'old fashioned' fragrance but I really like it as a more formal fragrance. The longevity is pretty good and my mum would love this perfume so I'm going to pass this one onto her.

YSL Mon Paris EDP: Pear, Orchid, White Flowers, Patchouli & White Musk 
This perfume sample is my favourite of the three in this box, it's sweet, floral and feminine. It's a perfect casual, daytime fragrance; the longevity isn't amazing but the sample bottle means that you can take it with you on the go.

Burberry Touch For Women: Orange, Blackcurrent, Pink Peppercorn, Jasmine, Lily, Oak Moss, Vanilla & Cedarwood 
Some fragrances manage to evoke memories, emotions and thoughts with a few notes but this fragrance has SO many notes, that it feels a little heavy and overbearing at times. The initial scent is just gorgeous however, it's sweet, musky and clean but it does become more musky as it develops; it's still a really nice fragrance though.

Overall, I think the Secret Scent Box is a fantastic idea, especially for someone like me who likes to change up fragrances often, likes to try new perfumes and who likes to use fragrances on the go. The perfumes in this box are ones I've never tried. I like all of them however the YSL Mon Paris EDP is definitely my favourite of the three. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Here's a discount code to get 15% off your first box: OFBEAUTY15

Have you tried any of these fragrances? Have you tried any fragrance subscription boxes? 

Estee lauder GWP @ House of Fraser

Monday, September 12, 2016
Estee lauder GWP @ House of Fraser
House of Fraser are always on point when it comes to beauty offers, sales and free gifts with purchases; I'm always so weak when it comes to beauty gifts and offers, I can't help myself! I recently received this lovely gift with purchase from Estee Lauder at House of Fraser and it's pretty amazing.

Sadly, this gift with purchase has now ended but it just shows how fantastic the beauty gift with purchases are at House of Fraser. There are quite a few GWPs at House of Fraser now so you can check them out! The gift with purchase includes seven amazing items, two of which are massive sample sizes as well as a cute makeup bag.
Estee lauder GWP @ House of Fraser
There are five skincare items, including a massive 30ml sample size of the Estee Lauder Take It Away Makeup Remover Lotion and another large size of the Estee Lauder DayWear Creme (15ml) which I've heard nothing but good things about. The next two skincare samples are also raved about; the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair (7ml) and the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye (5ml). The final skincare sample is one I haven't heard of before, the Estee Lauder New Dimension Shape + Fill Expert Serum (7ml) and we all know I love serums and so far this one is gorgeous - I've also been loving the Daywear creme as it smells like cucumbers which is so refreshing!

There are two makeup items in the GWP set including the Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lip Gloss in 420 Reckless Bloom (4.6ml) which is a gorgeous shimmer rosy brown shade - perfect for autumn. Lastly in the set is the Estee Lauder Pure Colour Kajal Eyeliner (01 Blackened Black) and you can never have too many black eyeliners.

Overall, I think it's such a generous GWP and I've been loving the serum and daywear creme so far. The makeup bag is also really cute and it fits a surprisingly large amount of makeup in it, because I cannot control myself and I need to bring everything with me for a weekend away or just to have in my bag! It's such a shame that this GWP set isn't available now but keep an eye on the House of Fraser website as there are always amazing sets and offers on.

Have you tried anything from Estee Lauder? What do you think of this set (sorry it's not available anymore but there are gorgeous UD and Elizabeth Arden sets available now)? 

Student Essentials from Tiger UK

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Student Essentials from Tiger UK
Tiger UK is one of those stores that I have always wanted to visit but there isn't a store very close to me, the nearest is in Preston. Tiger is a Danish store, it's Flying Tiger Copenhagen in Denmark, that stocks homeware, stationery, gadgets, games, food and so much more. It's like a Danish Ikea with amazing value products, just without the furniture.

I was very kindly sent a range of super affordable, cute and colourful homeware and stationery items ranging in price from £2 to £6. My favourite item from the products I was sent is definitely the String Light Chain (£6) which is adorable and perfect for adding colour and a surprising amount of light to any room. Student accommodation is always very neutral, boring and generic so colourful homeware is a quick, easy and affordable way to temporarily add a personal touch to your room. It's 2.5 metres long so it's great to place around a headboard, shelves or bookcase - it is also battery operated.

If you've been following my blog for a while then you'll know that I am a bit of a stationery addict; I am always on the lookout for more cute stationery *you can never have too much stationery*. I have an adorable *Office Set (£2) which is perfect for any student as it is such a compact set (so it's great for small flats with minimal storage) and it contains a mini stapler, staples, mini highlighter, scissors, tape and page markers. This cute set would be great for anyone, not just students! I also received a *Snake Look A5 Notebook (£2); I have so many notebooks but I always need more. I used up countless notebooks during college and university particularly for notes, lists and...doodles because procrastination does happen in lectures!
Student Essentials from Tiger UK
Lastly, two fruity and colourful homeware items, the *Fruit Photo Frame (£2). I think the prices for Tiger products is amazing and I really wish there was a store closer to me because I'd end up there every week! The final item is an adorable *Strawberry Wall Clock (£4) which would be perfect for a shared kitchen and if it does become the victim of student parties then it's cheap to replace!

Overall, I'm so happy with all of the products! They're all so inexpensive but great quality and perfect for students because of the price and they can add so much colour to a bland student room. I wish there was a store in Manchester, we have such a large student population, I don't know why there isn't a Tiger store in Manchester already. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you bought anything from Tiger Stores? What do you think of the items I received?

Stampin' Up! UK Card Making Kit

Friday, September 09, 2016
Stampin' Up Card Making Kit
Earlier in the year, I reviewed the Watercolour Wishes Card Making Kit from Stampin' Up! UK which I loved! It's such a comprehensive, cute and easy to use kit so I was super excited when I received another kit. I have the *Oh Happy Days Card Making Kit (£31.50) which contains: stamp ink, a stamp block, stamps, glittery dots, twine, die cut white and gold shapes, embossed sheets, glittery wooden shapes, 20 card bases and envelopes and the cute storage box as well as instructions/card design ideas.

I love crafting and DIY projects but they always turn out a little different than I thought they would or the projects I want to try are quite time consuming or involve a lot of tools but making cards is such a quick, easy and relaxing craft project. I've already made four cards using only the products in the kit and I love how all of them turned out!
Stampin' Up Card Making Kit
The designs are so gorgeous and unlike some card making kits, so modern and pinterest worthy! I love the typography of the stamps, it's gorgeous. There are so many card designs you can make or you can come up with your own designs. I think for the amount of items you receive in the kit, it's well worth the money - it works out to be just over £1.50 per card and you then still have the extras and stamps to make more cards.

Overall, I can't recommend this kit enough; it's so quick and easy to use! You can make gorgeous, Etsy/Pinterest looking cards in a few minutes. They also have some christmas card kits and stamp which I need! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried anything from Stampin' Up! UK? What do you think of the cards I've made? 

August Reading Roundup

Thursday, September 08, 2016
August Reading Roundup
All Images from Google
August wasn't the best reading month for me, I mean it wasn't awful, but I didn't get through all of the books that I wanted to in August because we went to London and the Harry Potter tour which took up a few days (even though I was going to read on the very long coach journey, I just couldn't as it was too loud and stressful) and I haven't felt 100% this month. Also this post is quite late, oops!

*Ink and Bone by Lisa - available now 
Firstly, I love the cover and I love the premise of this book; it was free as an e-book via Netgalley. The book follows Finley, a misunderstood young woman who has experienced family tragedies and as a result she has an unusual ability which she shares with her grandmother. She has to use her 'gift' to solve the mystery of missing girls. Finely's ability is that she has a kind of psychic ability so she can see/hear ghosts or links to people which is so interesting. The ghost element, the awful mother and the strong grandmother figure as well as the special and misunderstood abilities really reminds me of another book I've read recently - The Witches Kiss. If you've read Ink and Bone and The Witches Kiss then you'll probably see the connections too. It's a mystery/thriller with lots of paranormal and psychological aspects as well as a focus on family and relationships (whether they are loving or destructive). It definitely gave me a Sleepy Hollow vibe in terms of the setting and paranormal elements which I loved. All of the characters, whether good, bad or plain evil were interesting and I love the story on the whole even though some characters and relationships were quite annoying to me. The writing style is quick and easy to read so I will be looking for other books from this author. I did find the switching from locations and in.out of Finley's visions a bit disjointed and confusing. The book was a lot darker than I thought it would be, in terms of the crimes and missing girls so I think it would be a great halloween read. To summarise, it's a dark and gripping but easy to read story of family tragedies, gruesome crimes, paranormal entities and relationships; it's definitely not perfect with a couple of very annoying characters and an air of predictability but well worth checking out. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3.5/5.

*Caribbean Vegan Cookbook by Taymer Mason - available 29th November 
I haven't tried any caribbean cookbooks so I was excited to check this one out and again, it was a free e-book from Netgalley. I have tried a few vegan cookbooks and I love them and this one is no different. I love the food photography, the layout and how colourful the e-book is. I also love the snippets of information about caribbean food culture as it's something I know nothing at all about. I have tried a few recipes in the e-book so far including the chickpea curry which is so yummy and I like the lentil stew too. As with any vegan cookbook, it does include some hard to find or obscure ingredients but not so much so that it makes the recipes unrealistic to make. The only thing I don't like is the font used and I wish there were more photographs but other than those minor points, it's fantastic! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*Man, I Hate Cursive by Jim Benton - available 18th October
I have read a few illustrated books and graphic novels so far this year and I have loved reading them, especially in-between longer and more heavy reads; they act almost as a refreshing read or a way to get out of a reading slump. I haven't tried anything from Jim Benton but I love his style of illustrations - the style changes throughout the e-book but I love all of the illustrations. It's a very quick, easy and funny little e-book. The illustrations and stories they convey can be cute, sarcastic, funny, relatable and entertaining. The topics the illustrations cover include: daily life, pets, technology, relationships and more. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*Crafting With Feminism by Bonnie Burton - available 18th October
I have to be honest and say that the cover and the title of the book instantly drew me in! It is a craft book like no other, I don't have anything else like it with feminist quotes throughout as well as interesting craft projects. There were really useful tips for sewing beginners like me and explanations of various crafting tools, some of which were useful but others were so self explanatory I don't know why were they included. There is a recommended feminist reading list and must watch feminist films list which I will definitely be looking into. There were really fun and interesting craft ideas such as a girl coat of arms banner, which I think I'm going to try and make although I will adapt the design and a cassette business card holder. Then there are more obscure craft ideas such as a high heel planter (which again I might actually attempt because it looks pretty amazing), vagina christmas tree ornaments...and a huggable uterus shaped pillow. Overall, it's the most interesting and unusual craft book I've read but I think it's equally amazing. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5.

*The Harrowing by James Aitcheson - Available now
First up, the cover of this book really intrigued me! It looks like a dark historical fiction and to me, it is. The story follows five main characters as well as a host of others and it is set during the time just after the battle of Hastings which like every British school child knows was in 1066. The characters are so vivid as is the setting and the harrowing times it must have been to live through with Norman raids and such uncertainty which I think the author captured really well as well as the atrocities, gore and brutality of the time. The main themes for me were survival, morality and friendship and I haven't read anything quite like this before; it was so interesting to read and I wanted to know if the characters were all going to make it to their destination. The ending for me was bittersweet and I think it had to end the way it did to make it realistic and believable. The book did take me a lot longer to get through than I thought it would at around eight/nine days as there were slower and slightly tedious points throughout but overall it was an thought provoking and interesting read but it was quite repetitive at times. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5.

*My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! by Kirsty Turner - available 15th November
I've read quite a few vegan cookbooks but I'm always looking for more as there are so many vegan recipes and options out there and I want my diet to be more vegan than vegetarian - this cookbook is amazing! The food photography and recipes in this book make me SO hungry just flicking through it! Some of the recipes are very simple and I don't think they really needed to be included, such as avocado toast but other recipes are so delicious and don't contain a tonne of hard to find ingredients. I love the explanations at the beginning or various vegan ingredients/tools and how to cook the basics so I think it would be perfect for people who are new to a vegan lifestyle. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley - available 11th October 
I love the cover and the photography in this book it's so clear, crisp and fits the book perfectly but I really don't think that a e-book is the best format for it; I think it would be a great coffee table book. There are some sections of the book that aren't of interest or relevant to me such as the pregnancy but those sections were still interesting to flick through. The writing style is that of a friend talking to you or an informal letter, it's seems truthful and unforced. The chapter I liked the most was definitely chapter three, all about planning and organising. It is written by an American author so some of the phrases etc aren't familiar to me and make the book a little less relatable. Overall, it was an interesting e-book to flick through and refer back to but I don't think it was created for my age group on the whole. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5.

*How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss - Available Now
I haven't read anything like it before, it is not the kind of book are usually go for but that is one of the reasons why I wanted to try it! The story follows Hattie, her family and friends as well as a long lost relative, who has a lot of secrets! If you like books involving relationships and family mysteries then definitely pick this one up but be warned that it is not a happy book – it is one of the most melancholy and at times upsetting books I've read recently. The book deals with a lot of important but difficult and potentially triggering topics such as rape, domestic abuse, racism, dysfunctional families, adoption, dementia and more so if any of those topics might be upsetting or triggering to you then maybe this isn't the book for you. I love writing style, it was such an easy and quick read; I loved Gloria, she is such a vivid, interesting and entertaining character – she was my favourite character from the book as well as Hattie! My only problems with the book was a couple of the characters were a bit annoying such as Reuben and Kat as well as the mum at times. Additionally I think the cover/blurb doesn't explain how triggering the book could potentially be although that would take away some of mystery and shock factor I guess. Lastly I think it was a little repetitive in places but that might be the authors way of making the reader feel as people with dementia, and those who care for them, could feel. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Those are all of the books, illustrated books, cookbooks and craft books I've read during August!

Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading? Will you be picking up any of these books? 

Urban Retreat Luxury Spa Days at Harrods

Wednesday, September 07, 2016
www.urbanretreat.co.uk
Images from Urban Retreat
To me spa days and pampering treatments are the height of luxury when it comes to looking after yourself and destressing; time for yourself is so important and in an age when we spend probably too much time scrolling through social media *guilty*, being inactive and maybe not eating as healthily as we all could, I think it's additionally important to take some time out to relax and look after yourself. I can't think of anything from luxurious than a spa day at the Urban Retreat spa which is located within the famous and illustrious Harrods department store...yes, I didn't really know about it either and I need to go ASAP.

I have purchased from the Urban Retreat online beautique before which I can't recommend enough (their sales are always amazing) but I didn't know they offered spa days until now. They offer a couple of amazing sounding Moroccan hammam spa packages such as the Signature Hammam and Hair Package (£190) which includes 80 minute treatment, full access to the spa facilities as well as a blow dry by one of Urban Retreat's top stylists - it's sounds incredible! The even more luxurious package, the Half Day Moroccan Hammam Experience, includes an 80 minute treatment, 50 minute massage, blow dry, manicure, pedicure, makeup application and either lunch or afternoon tea.
www.urbanretreat.co.uk
Images from Urban Retreat
I think both of the Hammam Packages would make an incredibly wonderful and luxurious gifts, yes, I am already thinking about Christmas...They also offer a range of hair treatments, hair removal options, facials, makeup services, pregnancy treatments, lash and brow treatments, treatments for men and so much more!

If you're overly organised, some say ridiculously so, like me then the Urban Retreat spa days and treatments are definitely worth looking into as possible gift ideas; there are so many opinions, there's something for everyone. This is a sponsored post.

Have you been to the Urban Retreat spa in Harrods? Have you had a spa day? What do you think of these spa day packages? 

Book Review: Be Frank With Me

Tuesday, September 06, 2016
I haven't read anything by this author before or the publisher and it's quite different to the books that I usually read, so I didn't know what to expect! I have *Be Frank With Me by Julia Claribourne Johnson (£12.99, hardcover, Corvus). The book follows Frank, Alice and Mimi as well as a range of other characters. Mimi is a writer and she is trying to write her second book, that's where Alice comes in as an assistant and to look after the wonderful, if eccentric, Frank. I loved Alice's character and her relationship with Frank, they have such a sweet and endearing relationship, even though I think Frank, a sweet nine-year-old, can be quite a handful most of the time. Throughout the book you get to see all of Franks eccentricities and his sweet nature as well as he is more unusual habits; I loved all of the facts Frank laced into conversations throughout the book particularly about film and Hollywood stars which is something I knew nothing about.

Mimi on the other hand is such an annoying character, there are some times when she is so frustrating and rude, dismissive and ungrateful regarding Alice that it made Mimi's positive characteristics seem very minor and almost insignificant. I also wasn't a massive fan of Xander as he and Mimi were two people that Frank needed the most and they weren't really there; I think that contributed to some Franks more unusual and potentially dangerous habits/nature.

It wasn't a very plot driven book, it is more of a character study and a mystery regarding Frank's father, how Xander is involved with the family and if Mimi will ever finish her book that at times seem far more important to her than her son. Overall it was an entertaining, sweet and relatively quick read which I did enjoy (the best parts of the book were definitely the conversations and relationship between Alice and frank as well as Frank's personality). I also liked Mr Vargas in the book too, he seemed like a geuinely sweet character. However it was a little slow in places and I felt as though the story wasn't progressing very much because as I said it doesn't seem to be very plot driven, in my opinion so it was more of a show of family dynamics, stressors, mental health and relationships. Overall rating: ★★★☆, 3/5. 


Have you read Be Frank With Me? What are you currently reading?