Spring + Summer Audiobook TBR

Saturday, April 28, 2018
I've been loving using the BookBeat audiobook subscription service for the past year and I cannot wait to continue listening to some amazing audiobooks! Audiobooks are a great way to boost the number of books I read, they help me reach my reading goals and the format means that I can listen to audiobooks when I can't read a physical book. 

As with physical books, I love to create TBR lists to keep track of the books and audiobooks I'm planning on reading/listening to. Keeping track is important to me as I need to be organised and I am lucky enough to be sent a fair amount of books by publishers so I need to know when I have to read them by. 
Usually I create monthly TBR lists but today I'm sharing the audiobooks I'm going to be listening to over the spring and summer months - some of which I've already listened to as I couldn't wait. As with my reading taste, I also have a very varied audiobook list with classics, fantasy, childrens, YA, crime and non-fiction books. 

The audiobooks I've already listened to include Inferior by Angela Saini which I cannot recommend enough especially as it concerns a very important topic - womens rights, equality and persecution of women. I'd recommend it to everyone, especially men! You will be able to read my full April reading wrap-up tomorrow

The second I've already listen to is Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon which is one of the most unique, disturbing and controversial books I've ever read/listened to. I would recommend it but it makes for very uncomfortable, graphic listening at times (well most of the time). It does concern potentially triggering topics of drug use, abuse, rape, crime and mental illness/chronic illness. 
Some of the other audiobooks I'm looking forward to listening to over the next few months include a few classics such as Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier, Love and Friendship by Jane Austen and a couple of childrens classics including the adorable Paddington by Michael Bond. 

The majority of the audiobooks on my latest TBR include fantasy and YA fantasy, my favourite genres! I'm currently listening to the fantasy book, The Count Of Broken Knives which is a little confusing so far but I'm looking forward to listening to it again.

If you wanted to subscribe to BookBeat then it's £14.90 per month and there isn't a limit on how many audiobooks you can listen to but you can get a ONE MONTH free trial using this link (it's not an affiliate link) rather than the normal two week free trial.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Have you read any of these books? 

*Old English Company Wish List

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Over the next three months I have quite a few birthdays to buy for as well as a wedding so I've been looking for more unique gifts and in the process I've discovered Old English Company which has the most gorgeous range of stationery, homeware, cards, accessories and prints that feature beautiful hand-lettered designs! I love buying presents for people and I always end up treating myself to one, two...or three things along the way as well so here's my Old English Company wish list:

Greeting Cards  -  Pins  -  Planners  -  Prints  -  Stationery

How gorgeous are these designs! Every single item is gorgeously designed, very unique and they all suit my aesthetic perfectly. I particularly love the homeware (especially the mugs), stationery and pins. Their pin collection is great with my favourites being the girl gang, you rock and mama bear pins as well as the entire range with the quote 'she believed she could so she did'.

Additionally they have a wonderful range of greeting cards including a couple of perfect Father's Day cards (if you're in the UK, Father's Day isn't too far away). They also have a couple of other gifts that would make ideal Father's Day gifts such as the bread board, aprons, papa mug and and notebooks. All of their items would be perfect and extra special gifts!

If you want to enter an amazing competition to be in with a chance of winning a set of the Old English Company pins, check out this link! It ends on the 30th May so you have a lot of time to enter and all you have to do is email them your favourite enamel pin design of theirs, go, go, go!

Have you bought anything from Old English Company? What do you think of these gift ideas? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Old English Company

*How to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Image from La La Loving via Pinterest
With the UK having experienced a strangely long and brutal winter period, it’s refreshing to see that the sun has finally started shining, meaning summer is just around the corner. I for one can’t wait to lounge around in the park and enjoy some weekend BBQ’s with my friends. However, as much as I love the sun, keeping the home cool during the warm summer months can always prove tricky, especially in smaller homes or those built above ground.

I spoke with The Market Design and Build, who specialise in loft conversions in London to find out their three best tips and tricks to stop your home from becoming a greenhouse as the temperature begins to rise.

Once you hear the word insulation you’re likely to think “what? That’s for winter”. But actually, good insulation is a proven method used for keeping warmth out too, by deflecting heat and preventing the build-up of hot air. You can easily get an insulation board fitted by an expert if you own a property, or alternatively, can explain the benefits of doing so to your landlord, including lower fuel bills come winter time and increased property value.

Having a room with loads of natural light is wonderful, but during the summer, your exposed windows can quickly create a stuffy vibe by absorbing lots of heat into the room. To help prevent this from happening, it’s worth investing in a good set of blinds or curtains, particularly for South and West-facing windows, and keeping them closed while you’re out during the daytime. Moreover, the darker the shade, the less sunlight the blinds can absorb, so embrace your inner Goth and go for darker hues, provided they match well with the rest of your interiors.

Fans are by no means the cheapest or the most eco-friendly way to cool your home, but they are a godsend when the temperatures reach above 25 degrees. If you’ve got the cash for it, it’s a great idea to think about having a ceiling fan installed, as they help circulate the air throughout a whole room. If not, a cheap floor fan from Argos will do the job too - you can even try the age-old trick of placing a bowl of ice in front of it to speed up the cooling process. Trust me, it works a charm!

Do you have any other suggestions on how to cool your home? I’d love to hear them!

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest 

*Get Spring Ready With Pulse Light Clinic

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Image from House Beautiful via Pinterest
Spring is here...kind of! The weather in Manchester and the UK in general last week was so lovely and sunny but here we are with drizzle and grey skies; however spring means that summer is on it's way! Hopefully I'll be going away this summer and I'm already slowly prepping for it as I'm starting to get back into my weight loss and healthy eating plans again after being ill on and off for the past month. Additionally, I'm starting teeth whitening and I'm continuing with my at home laser hair removal too.

Laser Hair Removal Process 
Whether at home, in salons or clinics, the very basic principle of laser hair removal is the same as it aims to permanently damage the hair follicle to prevent the hair from growing again as well as reducing the amount of ingrown hairs resulting in smooth, hair-free skin. The process uses a laser which is an intense beam of light that specifically targets the hair follicles so it won't damage the surrounding skin or tissue, only the hair follicle. Laser hair removal works best on those with pale skin and dark hair, as I do and it may not be suitable for everyone so a consultation is essential.

Salon Process, Where To Go & Booking 
If you want to go down the salon and clinic route, you'll need to do your research to make sure you get the best and most effective experience. It would be best to go book a consultation to not only see if you are suitable for the treatment but also if the clinic/company is for you too. Pulse Light Clinic has various clinics around London, they're open until 8pm on weekends and weekdays and walk in's are welcome which makes it very convenient - free consultations and patch tests are included. They have over 15 years of experience which is very reassuring! You can contact Pulse Light Clinic or you can use their online booking system. For more information check out the video below or their website!

Have you experienced laser hair removal? If so, would you recommend it? If not, would you like to have laser hair removal in the future?

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest 
please always do your own research before considering any kind of treatment anywhere or lifestyle change 

*Should You Hire An Interior Designer?

Monday, April 23, 2018
Image from Home Design Ideas via Pinterest
Our home is certainly our sanctuary, which is why creating something that is beautiful, stylish and reflects our personality takes a lot of careful planning, time and effort. Many of us may not have a significant amount of time and energy to commit to a personal interior design project, so hiring a professional designer to help you might be a smart move. But, what questions should you ask yourself before taking the plunge?

Do you know your personal style? 
Anyone can purchase furniture, paint rooms and add bits and pieces to a space, but it takes a particular type of artistic personality to truly envision what they want and how they’re going to execute it. Going solo on an interior project is great for people who know exactly what they want their home to look like and who are great at making decisions. However, if this doesn’t sound like you then perhaps seeking expert advice is the preferred method. Interior designers are experts in translating a vision into reality, by asking the right questions and gauging personal styles so that your home brilliantly reflects your taste.

Do you have the budget?
Many people believe that hiring an interior designer is super expensive, but, contrary to popular belief, when it comes to styling your home, hiring an expert to do the hard work for you often works out cheaper in the long run. Someone who is skilled in this area will be able to make your home look lovely with minimal effort, and you’ll therefore avoid any costly mistakes which regular people like you and I might make when taking matters into our own hands! That being said, interior design is a broad spectrum, with budgets ranging from low-cost beginners who are just starting their careers and looking to expand their portfolios, right through to the luxury interior design companies who’ve been in the business for decades. It’s up to you to decide what your budget for an interior project is, and then do your research to find out whether there’s a suitable person or company who can fulfil your requirements.

Can you do it yourself? 
For small decoration and styling projects, hiring a designer might not be necessary, particularly if you are lucky enough to possess a creative flair. However, bigger projects prove to be somewhat challenging. You could, of course, go down the DIY route, taking inspiration from your dreamy Pinterest boards, but unless you’re an interior design whizz, the end result probably won’t come as close. Most of us aren’t naturally blessed in the interior design department, so hiring an expert is often the smartest option and takes away the stress of planning and executing your perfect space. Moreover, professional designers will hold the relevant qualifications and experience and are well equipped with a creative eye, trained to spot things which non-designers like us are likely to miss!

Would you hire and interior designer? If so, how would it go? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest 

Graduation Gifts: Adexe Watches

Saturday, April 21, 2018
I graduated from university more years ago than I care to remember and while it was very anxiety inducing, it was also an incredible proud and wonderful day! Thankfully I graduated with a first class BSc degree which made my graduation even more special and celebratory. My parents and aunties were lovely enough to give me graduation presents and when my sister graduated, I gifted her a gorgeous watch. I think a lovely watch would make a fantastic birthday, anniversary or graduation gift!

*Adexe They Grande Blue & Rose Gold Watch (£129)
The very lovely people over at Adexe London kindly allowed me to choose one of their watches to review and as I'm a blogger, I naturally chose one of the rose gold options! I opted for the THEY Grande Blue and Rose Gold Watch which is composed of genuine Italian leather, hardened crystal and stainless steel. It's waterproof up to 3m and their watches are 100% designed and produced in-house which makes them even more special and unique.
The watch came beautifully but simple packaged in a minimal white box with tissue paper and instructions; however yours may arrive in a luxe black box along with a spare watch band in black or brown.

I love the design of the watch, particularly the combination of the navy blue strap along with the subtle rose gold hardware which is such a gorgeous colour combination that's chic, simple and elegant but unique. Additionally, I love the multiple inner dials of the watch which makes it look expensive and luxe!

The size of the face is a great size, it isn't tiny or too big and it looks perfect as a casual spring watch. I've been wearing it paired with a lightweight speckled jumper, blue denim and tan suede ankle boots for a causal but put together spring look. I find that some watches are quite uncomfortable or too heavy for my tiny wrists but this one is is actually comfortable and easy to wear all day.
Overall, I'm so happy with my watch from Adexe London, it's beautiful designed and ideal for a cute casual look for so many occasions. I love the combination of the navy band and rose gold metal as well as the face design. There are so many gorgeous watches to choose from for men and women, some of my favourites have to include: Freerunner Petite Brownie & Gold, Sistine Rose Gold and Meek Petite Rose Gold watches. They'd make fantastic graduations gifts!

What do you think of the THEY watch from Adexe London? 

Blog Tour: Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon

Friday, April 20, 2018
I've been lucky enough to take part in quite a few blog tours already this year, so much more than last year and today's post is another with the lovely people over at HQ - Harper Collins UK (thank you!). I'll have a few more blog tour posts coming to my blog over the next few weeks as well so stay tuned for those. If you want to see my book ratings early and know what I'm reading, you can follow me on GoodReads.

*Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon (400 pages) ★★★
I partly read the arc I was kindly sent and I also listen to it partly on BookBeat as an audiobook (we all know how much I love BookBeat). In Carnivore, we follow Leander who seems to be suffering with some kind of chronic pain (myalgia) and synesthesia, among other issues as he leaves a trail of drug use and manipulation in his wake as a result. We have a glimpse into his incredibly chaotic and self destructive life in which pain is a kind of pleasure, self harm in various ways is a constant and his view of the world is very abnormal due to the issues and the crippling chronic pain he experiences. The main point I found interesting about the book was the characters life with synesthesia which is something I've never read about before, for example, how sounds could be associated with a colour or a scent.

This novel is described as 'the most controversial debut literary thriller of 2017' and I think that's a great way to describe it as it's definitely a polarising book - some will find it raw, unique and eye opening but ultimately well written and intriguing; however I think that others will view it as shocking and very uncomfortable. I fall in the middle as I found it to be very unique, shocking and interesting with regards to synesthesia which made for a very surreal read; however it was very disturbing at times and for most of the book it left me with an comfortable, uncertain feeling. Thankfully the more thriller elements, police involvement and the ending which was much more positive than I thought it would be, made for a more familiar read.

I would recommend it, for me a three star read is a good book with a couple of flaws but one that I'd still recommend. However I'd recommend it with caution and only if you think you will be ok with the potentially triggering topics of chronic pain, illness, manipulative relationships, abuse/rape and drug use - there are some extremely graphic, disturbing scenes so just be aware of that. I'd recommend the audiobook but it definitely made for very difficult listening at times...well most of the time. I think you can tell how mixed my thoughts are about this book but ultimately I would recommend it as a very dark, unique read!

Will you be picking up this book? What are you currently reading? Do you like books featuring darker, controversial or taboo topics? 

DegustaBox - April 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018
I'm lucky enough to be a DegustaBox ambassador so I receive the boxes each month to review! If you didn't know, DegustaBox is a UK food subscription box in which you will receive between 10 to 15 food, drink and snack items which I think is fantastic considering the low price and if you use the discount code KVAA2 it will make the box only £7.99 instead of £12.99. It's such an amazing value box!

The April box contains a wide range of items from sweets, chocolate and snacks to drinks, alcohol and more! There are so many more items within this box compared to the previous boxes which I love; the items are also very me and I've been able to try so many (usually there are a few that I can't eat because I'm a vegetarian/vegan).
*Mutti Passata (£1.40)
I use passata constantly for pasta sauce especially when I'm trying to eat extra healthily so I switch from more creamy pasta sauces to tomato sauce. I've tried this passata already and it has such a smooth texture. Passata and tomatos in general remind me of meals on holiday in Italy and it suits the gorgeous warm and sunny weather we have right now!

*Trek Protein Energy Chunks (£1.15 each)
I've noticed this brand on twitter recently so I'm glad that some of their products are included within the April Degustabox! I have the 'cocoa peanut peak' flavour which contains high protein fruit, oats and crunch chunks as well as the 'toffee triumph' flavour that contains a whopping 12g of protein per bag. They are gluten free, one of your five a day and they're vegan too which is fantastic. I've only tried the toffee triumph flavour so far and I love it!
*Happy Down Alcoholic Premix 
As I'm a Degustabox ambassador I am lucky enough to receive a few extra products within my box and I received two this month! The first is the Happy Down cocktail which is flavoured with lychee, guava and chilli. I love the packaging and it contains all natural flavours; additionally it's only 44 calories per 100ml and it is free from preservatives. I personally don't really drink so this isn't for me but I'll pass it onto a friend who'll love it.

*Nuttvia Hazelnut Spread 
The second item I received as an extra is the Nuttvia Hazelnut Spread which comes in a gigantic 600g jar! It contains 97% less sugar than the sugar based market products of it's kind and it is palm oil free (as part of the orangutan alliance) which is amazing! I have been having Nutella in my porridge recently so this item came at the perfect time as I've wanted to switch to a healthier version for a while. You can tell that there is less sugar and for me it doesn't quite match up to other spread like it but I will still continue to use it.

*Lucozade Energy Orange (£1.10)
I haven't had a Lucozade drink since secondary school in the 00's when it was the only thing we used to drink, along with Dr Pepper! The packaging and the taste is so incredibly nostalgic to me as it takes me back to sitting in the canteen in secondary school but sadly, it's not really my kind of thing anymore; however I know so many people who love it!
*Mutti Finely Chopped Tomatoes (£1)
I received a second item from the Italian brand, Mutti in the April box. The tin contains only Italian red finely chopped tomatoes and the brand is the winner of a prestigious Great Taste Award. I cannot wait start cooking with them as the weather is so nice and I'm craving all of the fresh summery foods!

*Haribo Giant Strawberries (£1.29)
As with the Lucozade drink, Haribo are very nostalgic to me too but sadly since becoming a vegetarian I've had to give them up (which was very difficult for 11 year old Heather) but thankfully these giant strawberries are suitable for vegetarians! I have actually eaten over half of the bag already....and I only received the box earlier this week, oops. I love the taste of these strawberry sweets, they are so artificial and sweet - I love it and I will have to buy more.

*The Food Doctor (£1 each)
Next up is a much healthier but equally as delicious snack! I haven't tried anything from The Food Doctor brand but it looks interesting. I received two snack packets including the flavours: Smokin' Edamame Mix and Full Of Beans Protein Mix. Each packet is high in fibre and high in protein which is great. I've only tried the first flavour so far but I loved it as not only is it healthy but it's crunchy and I love the slightly smokey flavour.
*Milkybar Wowsomes (55p each)
Growing up, I definitely had a sweet tooth for all kinds of sweets and chocolate but sadly the only ones I didn't like included Wagonwheels and Milkybars. The April box contains two of the new Milkybar Wowsomes bars which contain 33% less sugar than similar chocolate products and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. They contain white and milk chocolate with oat cereal and a creamy centre. They are personally not for me annoyingly but I think so many people would love them!

*N!ck's Kexbar (£1.20)
Thankfully this next snack bar is right up my street and it is insanely delicious! It's from a Swedish brand and it contains no added sugar but you wouldn't know as it is so moreish, sweet and delicious. I had to stop myself from immediately eating the whole 40g bar in one go as I almost couldn't stop. I will definitely be searching for this bar in the UK as I need to stock up.

*Strawberry and Banana Liobites Smoothie Bites (£2.35)
A healthier snack is the Liobites Strawberry and Banana Smoothie Bites which are 100% fruit crisps (which is a healthy snack that I actually love). They are high in fibre, retain all of the vitamins from the fresh fruit and they only contain four natural ingredients. I've been snacking on them and the previous snack bar while writing this and I'm loving them.
*Juicy Fuel Cola (£2 each)
If you choose to receive the non-alcoholic DegustaBox then you'll receive one of the two flavours of this delicious cola drink - either blueberry or cherry. I receive the cherry flavour (thankfully as I hate blueberries) and it's so moreish. The flavour is similar to what I remember cherry flavoured Coca Cola being like but it's been so long since I drank that! It's all natural and it even contains one of your five a day!

*a2 Milk - Life Life Semi-Skimmed Cow's Milk (£1.50)
There are been so many incredible and very delicious items in the box so far; usually as a vegetarian I have to pass on a few items per box to friends and family members but within this box there is one that I definitely won't consume. Since I was in nursery (a very very long time ago), I refused to drink cows milk as I just didn't like it and for the next 22 years, I've continued to not drink cows milk so I'll be passing this onto someone else.

*Idahoan's Perfect Mash - Roasted Garlic (£1.50)
The final item is my favourite from the entire box - it's instant roasted garlic flavoured mash! I don't think I've ever had instant mash before now but this one is so delicious! It isn't as garlicky as I hoped it would be but I still love the flavour and it's so quick to make. I will definitely be buying this in the future!
*Mindful Bites - Nut Betters
A few items came a little late so I'm adding them in at the end of this post! The first are a set of four (one burst during delivery so I couldn't photograph it) nut butter pouches. I haven't seen anything like this before but I love the packaging design and the flavour options. I have only tried the 'almond and macaroons nut butter' flavour so far and it's so delicious! They'd be perfect on the go snacks!
*Juicy Fuel Cola 
The final item is the second flavour of the Juicy Fuel Cola which is blueberry flavoured. I've reviewed the cherry option above and I loved it! I didn't think I'd like the blueberry flavour as I don't like blueberries but this one is so delicious too, just not quite as nice as the cherry flavour. I'd definitely recommend these especially as they are one of your five a day!
Overall, the April DegustaBox is my favourite from the past few months! There are so many delicious snack items in the box as well as great cooking ingredients. The April box is one of the best value and delicious boxes I've received - don't forget to use the code KVAA2 to get your box for only £7.99!

What do you think of the April box? Have you tried any of these snacks? 

Spring Homeware Wish List

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Spring is finally here (sadly so is hayfever) which means that I've been spring cleaning, organising and getting rid of so much clutter! Carboot sales are perfect for getting a little extra cash to refresh your home with new spring decor. I'm definitely a fan of minimal and simple homeware which is ideal for spring especially when it's paired with items that are unique or botanical themed.

Paradiso Large Mirror  -  Ambition Blinds  -  Down Farm Doorstop  -  Apple Rattan Storage Basket  -  Doughnut Bunny Dish Towel 

Today's post features just a few items on my spring homeware wish list from Laura Ashley, y and Ambition Blinds. Let's start with Anthropologie which is one of my favourite homeware strores (which isn't great for my bank balance!) and they have so many gorgeous spring homeware items online right now, including the stunning Paradiso Large Mirror, adorable Down Farm Doorstop and the even more adorable Doughnut Bunny Dish Towel!

Sticking with the theme of adorable and very unique homeware items is this cute Apple Rattan Storage Basket from Laura Ashley! It's perfect for me as we live on a street with apple in the name so I feel like we need this...and it's just so cute!

Lastly, I'd love to upgrade some of the blinds in the living room and utility as we've had them for so long and Ambition Blinds have a fantastic range to choose from including wooden Venetian blinds, blackout blinds, roof window blinds and roller blinds. I have my eye on the faux wood mirage fine grain wooden venetian blinds, the splash sand roller blinds and the desert oak wooden venetian blinds. The blinds are made to measure and the prices are very affordable particularly considering the quality.

What do you think of my wish list? What items do you have on your spring homeware wish list? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Ambition Blinds, Antropologie and Laura Ashley

Glossy Box: April 2018 - Nostalgic Box

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
I have been lucky enough to review quite a few subscription boxes on my blog from a range of brands but I also review boxes on the All Subscription Boxes website. I have numerous favourite boxes, however my top subscription boxes have to include WootBox, LookFantastic, Craftiosity and obviously, GlossyBox.

*GlossyBox April 2018 (£10 per month + £3.25 P&P)
When I first started blogging I bought GlossyBox boxes every month and loved receiving them so I'm glad to be working with the lovely people over at GlossyBox now! Within each box you will receive five beauty products are various sizes from a wide range of brands. This months box contains products from Eyeko London, Carmex, Affect Cosmetics, Model Launcher and Model Co, a few of which I've tried and a couple of others that I haven't heard of before.
Model Launcher Safari Bronzer (£20 - full size included) 
The first product is from a brand that I haven't heard of before, Model Launcher and it's a full size item! The bronzer is talc free, mineral free and waterproof, the latter is very interesting. I adore the cute safari, animal print design of the bronzer! It does contain glitter which is something I don't like in bronzers but thankfully it isn't very visible on the skin; however it does leave a gorgeous warm glow!

Model Co + Karl Lagerfeld Baked Blush - Rose Beige
Next up is a very exciting product for a few reasons, firstly it's a collaboration with Model Co and Karl Lagerfeld, the shade is stunning and lastly, it's a Glossybox early exclusive product and the launch date is yet to be revealed! The blush is a gorgeous metallic rose shade that I've actually been using as a beautiful spring-like all over the lid shade.
Eyeko London Fat Liquid Eyeliner - Black (£16 - full size included)
The theme of this box is 'nostalgia' and for me there are quite a few makeup items that marked growing up milestones in the teenage years and one of them is black liquid eyeliner, along with dream matte mousse foundation, unbranded glittery eyeshadows, blue mascara and hair mascara...I loved black eyeliner in pencil and liquid form growing up and I dread to think what it looked like!

I've tried a few products from Eyeko London so I'm glad to try another item and this one is perfect. I've wanted to start wearing liquid eyeliner again recently so this is a well timed addition to the April box. Despite the chunky marker style applicator, it's actually fairly easy to get a thin line and wing.

*Carmex Strawberry Lip Balm (£2.79 - full size included)
Another nostalgic item is flavoured lip balm and while I was a Chapstick and Lipsmackers kind of girl, I did also like Carmex balms. Berry flavoured lip balms were always my favourites in the late 90's and it's something I always had in my school bag!
*Affect Cosmetics Transparent Loose Rice Powder (£9.35, 10g - full size included)
Last but not least is an ideal product for this time of the year as my skin is becoming a little oily rather than it's usual very dry self during the winter months. I've been using my Essence Fixing Powder but it's almost come to an end - this powder seems like a great replacement. The powder contains a combination of rice starch and mica which gives a matte finish that instantly absorbs oil. I definitely prefer pressed powders but I'll still get so much use out of this loose powder.

Overall, I'm really happy with this months box, mainly because it contains so many makeup items, unlike other beauty subscription boxes which are mainly skincare based (too heavily skincare based). My favourite items have to include the beautiful blush and the Eyeko London eyeliner.

Use the code: GLOSSY to get 20% off the April box!

What do you think of the April Glossybox

*affiliate link and gifted
I don't have affiliate accounts anymore 

Blog Tour: What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe

Sunday, April 15, 2018
I'm definitely a seasonal reader, I like to read certain books at specific times of the year and for me mystery thrillers are for either halloween or as quick spring/summer reads - this novel is ideal for the latter! Today's post is a little late but it's another blog tour with the lovely people over a Quercus.

*What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe (352 pages) ★★★
On Amazon this book is categorised as a psychological thriller and a crime/mystery novel. The novel has a stunning cover and matches perfectly to the sun drenched, colourful country of Morocco which is where our three main characters come together again after ten years. We follow Paul, Freya and Hamad who've been the best of friends since their university days but when Hamad offers husband and wife Paul and Freya an offer they can't refuse, they move to Morocco; however it brings up family tension, doubts, a web of tangled lies and a plethora of devastating secrets...and a body.

I think this is the first novel I've read that is set in Morocco and the setting was perfect not only for the story but the atmosphere. The colourful, humid setting was fantastic, vivid and added so much to the novel. Another aspect that I loved was the mystery that became increasingly complex and intriguing as the novel progressed with more secrets unveiled. The writing was fairly quick and easy, it was definitely an enjoyable and interesting read and I would definitely recommend it as the perfect summer mystery thriller set in a beautifully colourful and intriguing country!

Will you be picking up this novel (it's only 99p on Amazon)? Do you like mystery thrillers? 

*Classic Romantic Getaways That Still Rock

Friday, April 13, 2018
Image from Home Design Ideas via Pinterest
When you are looking for some kind of a getaway for you and your romantic partner, it’s likely you will want to do something a little different, hopefully unique to the two of you. While you can always find ways to make that happen, when it comes to actually choosing the destination you might find that it is still best to go for some of the classic, tried-and-tested destinations which romantic couples have long enjoyed. Going for those means increasing the likelihood of having a truly enjoyable romantic time together, and it means that you are going to be able to get back to what you are about as a couple - whether it’s the honeymoon, or the fortieth wedding anniversary.

Spanish Villa
One quality of the ultimate classic romantic getaway is that you have lots of space and time to yourself. It is for this reason that the two of you will usually want to stay somewhere more private and remote, rather than part of a larger hotel condominium or something of that sort. Something which is always going to be popular is to go to a Spanish villa where it is just the two of you, and this is still worth considering if you are looking for a truly romantic getaway classic that still rocks. If you’re worried about the financial side to this, don’t be: take a look at Interhome.co.uk for some indication of how easily you should be able to afford this kind of easy luxury.

City Break
Of course, that’s not for everyone - and some couples prefer to remain in the thick of it. If you want to try and be fairly central and enjoy a little more activity than those staying in the countryside, then going for a city break might be the best option for you as a couple. If you want to go the real traditional route, then you’ll do something like a weekend in Paris, which is still just about as romantic as it gets. Of course, you can go anywhere so long as it is a city which the both of you would like to visit - so bear that in mind if you feel a little lost as to where you want to go. You don’t have to go for the classic romantic spot, but it works if you do want to.

Island Time 
For those who want more of the traditional lying back and doing nothing by the sea, an island could be the way to go. Here, you tend to get the best of both worlds, as you can find some private space for the two of you but also get involved in the smaller community that island life tends to offer. Whether it is Barbados or Hawaii, going to an island together can be a truly remarkable way to spend time together, and is often seen as the ideal for a bit of a luxury holiday for two. Once you’re on island time, everything else will fall away.

Before you jet off on your romantic getaway, why not pick up a travel parcel from Kiss My Parcel for everything you need on your trip!

What would your ideal romantic getaway or holiday be? 

*This is a collaborative post 

Blog Tour: Turn A Blind Eye by Vicky Newham

Thursday, April 12, 2018
I've been lucky enough to take part in so many book blog tours this year with a range of wonderful publishers, Harper Collins is definitely one of them! If you've been following my blog for a while then you'll know that some of my favourite book genres include historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, mysteries/thrillers and suspenseful, today's book could be categorised at the latter three genres.

*Turn A Blind Eye by Vicky Newham (384 pages) ★★★
Turn A Blind Eye is categorised on Amazon as 'women sleuths', 'police procedural' and 'literary fiction'. It's less than 400 pages and it already has a fair few positive reviews from authors and reviewers. It's the first in a new series and the hardback edition is available now.

We follow detective inspector Maya Rahman as she is dealing with a family tragedy when the headmistress of her former school is found dead with an unusual note relating to Buddhism placed with the body. What follows is a race against time and the killer as a second body is found, the public are becoming more concerned and the threads begin to unravel.

I have read a fair few thrillers in the past couple of years and the vast majority seem to involve a straight white man so it's very refreshing and welcome to have an Indian female detective as the main character. The book itself is very realistic and deals with current issues such as racism, sexism and other topics around multicultural Britain today which was fantastic. I would say that there are some potentially triggering topics such as death/murder, religion, arranged marriages and suicide so keep that in mind.

The writing was great although I found that it was a little bogged down in conversation at times and the pace was realistic and therefore fairly slow. The thrillers I've read previously have the element of a quick, intriguing and page turning pace that is characteristic of the genre but this one didn't which does set it apart in a very crowded genre, however it made for a slower read.
Overall, I love the cover, the characters were interesting and the diversity and issues explored is very refreshing and needed within such a white male centric genre. The mystery of the deaths was compelling and I wanted to find out how the book would conclude. However, the only issues I have with the book is that the dialogue felt bogged down and sluggish at times; additionally, the pace for me is far too slow (mainly the first half of the book). Also the ending was a little rushed and I personally didn't understand the motive of the killer, there were many other options for the killer to take rather than committing multiple murders which took me out of the story. With that in mind, I'd still definitely recommend it as a slow burn but compelling murder mystery set in a refreshingly realistic portrayal of multicultural Britain.

Will you be picking up Turn A Blind Eye? Do you like crime/thriller reads? 

New In: Case App iPhone Cases

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Spring is finally here and it's now stopped snowing so that means I've been craving all things floral, botanical and fresh! I've also has a huge spring cleaning session and clear out recently too and I've now finally upgraded my phone cases which definitely needed to be replaced. The very lovely people over at Case App kindly sent me a couple of new spring-like iPhone 7 cases and I love them!

*Case App Summer Flowers iPhone 7 Case (£19)
Case App is a Swedish phone and tablet cases/skins brand with so many gorgeous and very unique designs to choose from or you have the option to create your own design. The case I've been using the most is the gorgeous 'summer flowers' case design which fits my iPhone 7 perfectly! The case comes in a glossy or matte finish and I opted for the latter as to be honest, it looks nicer in photos...once a blogger, always a blogger. This case was designed by Iisa Mönttinen and she has a few other designs to choose from. I absolutely adore this case, it reminds me of Rifle Paper Co designs and I cannot recommend it enough.
*Case App Fight For Change iPhone 7 Case (£19)
The second iPhone 7 case I was kindly sent is this stunning 'fight for change' phone case design which was created by Femkonst. I love the bold, feminist and colourful design along with the almost rebellious and political undertones of the design. As with the previous case, it fits my iPhone 7 perfectly and it looks great too! Both cases are very easy to attach and remove, it doesn't damage the phone in any way and they are both feature very unique designs!

There are so many gorgeous designs to choose from but you can also create your own with artwork or photographs! You can get 20% off your order with the code: OFBEAUTYAND.
Here are just a few of the other designs the I adore from Case App! I might have a Case App giveaway coming soon!

What do you think of these designs? Have you ordered from Case App

London Photo Diary: HMS Belfast, St Pauls + British Museum

Sunday, April 08, 2018
We were so lucky that we arrived when the cherry blossoms had started to bloom so I could take this gorgeous photo!
Yesterday I came back from a couple of days in London and we had a great time, even though it was exhausting and my feet are incredible sore now! Last year we did the same thing as for both trips we were able to get cheap train tickets in the Virgin seat sale so we saved about around £300! Also we stayed in the same Premier Inn (the London Euston one) which was great - the food is great, it's clean and the location is fantastic.

Last year we visited Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London so this year we visited a few places we hadn't before including The British Museum, HMS Belfast and St Pauls Cathedral as well as a quick visit to see Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, The Golden Hinde and Shakespeare's Globe. I haven't visited London in the spring before and I'd definitely recommend - the weather was perfect and there are beautiful cherry blossom trees in bloom.
Today's post is a combination of a photo diary, review of St Pauls and HMS Belfast and a few travel tips and recommendations. If you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) then you'll have seen everything already on my stories! First up, my outfits: the stripy top and grey jumper are both from H&M, the jeans are ASOS Petite (the best place for petite jeans) and my coat and boots are from Newlook. Also the nail polish is a gorgeous rose gold from Orly which sadly chipped within a few hours...
I picked most of the place we visited but one location my dad wanted to visit was HMS Belfast which is a historic war ship and museum. We booked tickets online but we could have used the vouchers we found online at the ship but we didn't know how busy it would be. To get to the ship we took the Victoria line from London Euston to Victoria then Victoria to Tower Hill on the circle line and if you have a contactless debit card then you can use it to pay at the barrier without having to buy a paper ticket (it saves so much time if you can use contactless).

The walk from Tower Hill to HMS Belfast took us over Tower Bridge which is so impressive! You can go inside the towers but we were pushed for time so sadly we couldn't. HMS Belfast is very easy to spot and it has it's own shop and a couple of cafes - the price of pastries in London is so much more than up north!
HMS Belfast is fairly inexpensive but I'd recommend looking for discount codes or vouchers (especially if you travelled to London on the train as tramlines usually offer discounts). I'm not really interested in wars, battles or war ships but visiting HMS Belfast was definitely interesting but I would not recommend it at all if you are claustrophobic or if you have any mobility issues because most of the doors are above the floor level, there are countless ladders (most of them are very steep - VERY STEEP) and in some areas it's pretty much a giant climbing frame.
Despite it not being my thing, I did enjoy visiting HMS Belfast as it's definitely a unique sight to visit in London. It's my first view inside a war ship like this and it was quite eye opening and confirmed that I definitely wouldn't have been able to work within one. The engine room (down a few very steep/narrow ladders) was the most interesting part of the ship as well as the views of London from the deck.
There was one fairly creepy aspect of the ship that I definitely didn't like which were the mannequins placed around the ship. They were in the kitchens, dentist and onboard medical area, the latter was very creepy! Also, one thing to note is that if you want to explore all of the ship, it was quite a lot of walking - for the second day of our trip to London, I walked over 17,000 steps and 33 flights of stairs...
Next up, The British Museum which was only a 15/20 minute walk from Premier Inn (it was a nice walk, especially through Russell Square) and the British Museum is free! I actually think that most museums in England are free, with a few exceptions. We did have to have our bags checked in the British Museum which is fine but we didn't for HMS Belfast.

I have wanted to visit the British Museum for years so I'm glad we finally got to visit and again, there's so much walking/stairs if you want to visit all of the museum. The museum was first opened to the public in 1759, it's huge and easy to find - it also hold a gigantic collection of artefacts from around the world including mummies from ancient Egypt, items from Asia and Africa and British archeological finds from roman Britain, just to name a few.
Out of all of the places we've visited in London I'd have to say that the British museum is pretty much at the top of the list including Buckingham Palace and the Tower Of London. If you want to explore so much history (for free) then I cannot recommend The British Museum enough but beware that there are some human remains on display in the form of mummies and skeletons.

Additionally, the British Museum houses some incredible replicas and famous artefacts such as the Rosetta Stone and The Lewis Chessmen (the most famous chess set in the world - check out my photo at the end of the post) as well as an easter island statue and treasures from the Sutton Hoo site.
Sadly we didn't have the time to explore the entirety of the museum (there are a few exhibitions that are for members only or for ticket holders) which is annoying so I definitely want to visit in the future to explore it in more detail. The museum building itself is gorgeous, especially the roof and there are lots of shops/cafes and space inside - it would be the perfect place to spend a rainy day!

The only thing I didn't like about the museum was the layout as it was quite confusing, it's easy to become lost and it meant that we missed some amazing artefacts! I think the museum definitely needs an Ikea style navigating system with arrows on the floor to make exploring the museum easier and more efficient.
My favourite sections of the museum have to be the Egypt section on the ground floor along with the Egyptian mummies on the upper floors as well as the roman Britain section and greek artefacts! We send over two hours in the museum but I could have spend so much longer especially as we missed out on at least three/four sections of the museum. I could have also spent so money on souvenirs and books in the British Museum but I behaved myself and didn't buy anything (it was tough though!).
I need to mention one thing about my outfit, my bag which is from Zara was amazing for travelling with! The bag is only £19.99 and it comes in white, black and grey, I have the grey option. It contains three compartments, two in the middle and one zipped section, the latter is ideal for my phone/travel documents and tickets. The two inner sections were large enough to easily hold my large purse, umbrella, beauty essentials, sunglasses, phone charger and my Canon 750D camera body along with the kit lens. If you're looking for a handbag for a weekend away, school or work then look no further, I'm definitely going to be purchasing the black version!
Last but not least is the beautiful St Pauls Cathedral! We didn't buy tickets online and I'm glad we didn't as even though we had to queue for quite a while for the bag search, we were able to use the vouchers we found online to get our tickets half price! The cathedral is so gorgeous with cherry blossoms around the side and the inside is even more stunning.

One thing to note is that you can't take photos inside which is ridiculous (if I can take photos inside St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City then surely I should be able to here!). I did take a sneaky photo in the cathedral cafe which is near the tombs. The architecture is unbelievable, it's an incredibly beautiful building and it houses the tombs of various famous individuals from history such as Admiral Horatio Nelson, Wellington and the architect, Christopher Wren.
I absolutely loved visiting London again, it's always so exciting to see so many amazing museums and historic sites. I have now visited London three times and I cannot wait to go again, maybe next year as there are still so many places I'd love to visit including Kensington Palace, the natural history museum, the museum of London and the V&A, among many others! Lastly, below is a short video of some of the clips from London, let me know if there are any problems with the video!

Have you visited London? What are your favourites places to visit in the capital? 

Self Care Saturday: Natural Daily Essentials

Saturday, April 07, 2018
Happy Saturday everyone! Today's post is another 'self care Saturday' post which will be focusing on natural, green and cruelty free toiletries and essentials. While I do look for cruelty free and more natural skincare, haircare and makeup, I always tend to forget about my basic, daily toiletries and essentials so in comes Avernaco to the rescue!

Avernaco stocks a great range of natural products, some of which are suitable for vegans and pretty much all of them are cruelty free. I haven't tried any of the brands that they stock online so I'm glad that I'm able to try some new brands/products, especially as they're cruelty free and contain natural ingredients.
*Natralus Australia Ultra Skin Repair (£8.29, 30ml)
Let's start with two of my most used products, the first is a skin repairing and hydrating gel that contains high potency organic aloe vera, papaya, rosemary leaf extract, vitamin e, cucumber fruit extract and many more fantastic natural ingredients. The product is Australian owned, cruelty free and dermatologically tested.

The skin repair gel claims to soothe and restore the appearance of dry, damaged skin which definitely describes my hands! Eczema is such an awful skin condition, I wouldn't ever wish it on anyone as it can be leave my skin incredibly dry, flaky, tight and unbelievably sore, itchy and red. I have eczema on my face and my hands but thankfully this gel has been helping the eczema on my hands look and feel less painful! A little goes a very long way, it absorbs pretty quickly and it doesn't irritate my skin.

*Natralus Australia Hand & Skin Shield - Liquid Gloves (£6.95, 30ml)
Next up is probably my favourite item out of the three I was very kindly sent from Avernaco! The hand cream claims to natural safeguard the skin by locking out external skin irritants, restore working hands and protects for over four hours. Additionally, it's paraben free, cruelty free and it contains various natural ingredients including aloe vera, castor seed oil and jojoba seed oil.

As with the gel, it absorbs quickly, it doesn't leave my hands feeling greasy or sticky and it leaves my skin looking and feeling comfortable, hydrated and nourished. The size is perfect for travelling or keeping in your handbag. I have it in my bag while I'm in London (I'm in London now so check out my instagram (@ofbeautyand) for updates!). I'll also have a London photo diary going up in the next few days so stay tuned.
*Splat Magnolia Whitening Toothpaste (£6.95, 75ml)
Last but not least is something that I think many of us forget about when it comes to more natural products - toothpaste! I'll be honest and admit that the pink packaging did draw me to this product but it's actually perfect for me as it's a whitening toothpaste for those with sensitive teeth. It contains natural amino acids which remove surface staining, papain to break up plaque and anisic acid along with magnolia rind extract to prevent halitosis. It also contains liquorice extract, rosemary essential oil, golden pearl powder, neem flower extract and aloe vera (phew).

It's definitely a gentle but effective toothpaste - it doesn't have a typically minty scent or flavour, it's more natural and earthy if that makes any sense. I haven't tried the Lush toothy tabs but I'd imagine that they'd have a flavour like this! Minty toothpastes often cause sensitivity for me but this one is so gentle but it still leaves my teeth feeling clean and with fresh breath. Also the light pink colour is definitely a plus! I cannot recommend all three products enough and I'll be buying the toothpaste in the future!

Have you tried anything from Avernaco? What are your favourite natural products or brands? 

New In: Premium Styling Dock

Thursday, April 05, 2018
You might not know this about me but while I hate cleaning, I adore organising and sorting out items to make them neat, tidy and organised so naturally I was so excited when this styling dock arrived from Minky! It's pretty much everything I'd want in a organiser for my hair styling tools and accessories!

*Premium Styling Dock (£30)
The styling dock features three large compartments that when placed on your vanity or desk, are fantastic holders for your straighteners, curler, hair dryer or brushes! The dock is heat resistant so it's perfect for safely storing your heat tools. It also comes with small storage pots for clips and bobbles as well as cable reels to keep cables neat and tidy rather than getting tangled.
One of the most useful aspects of the dock for me, as well as it being a great way to organise items, is the heat resistant top and heat resistant silicone body of the dock! It claims to withstand high temperatures which is ideal for my straighteners (I have the ruby GHD styler) which can remain hot/warm for a while after use.

Since receiving the dock I've been using it to store my GHDs, curler and a couple of my brushes along with those disappearing bobby pins and bobbles. I love the little removable storage pots on the front of the dock as they're great for storing clips - mine always tend to disappear, never to be seen again. The only thing that doesn't fit in the dock is my hairdryer which is a little disappointing but maybe I just have a huge hairdryer!
The size of the dock isn't huge which is great as I didn't want a large, bulky organiser on my vanity and it doesn't look too out of place. It is perfect for keeping cables tidy with the cable reeds that can attach to the back of the dock and keep cables from being tangled (which most of mine were before using this organiser). The cable reels are also great for travelling as it keeps the cables together and compact.

I used to store all of my hair tools within one drawer where they would instantly become tangled together but thankfully now I can keep my most used items within the organiser were they are tangle free, tidy and safety stored so a warm tool won't damage anything and it is away from others. However, I still have a unusually large number of curlers as well as my hairdryer in the drawer of tangles.
Overall, I'm very happy with my new premium styling dock especially as it keeps my most used tools together but free from tangles. I love the heat resistant feature as it means that I don't need to precariously keep my straighteners on a supposedly heat proof mat on the floor - they are safety stored away. I only have a couple of negatives when it comes to this product and the first is that my hairdryer doesn't fit and it isn't the most attractive looking organiser (I'd love to see a rose gold, copper or white version!).

What do you think of this organiser? How do you store your hair tools?