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Weekly Book Round Up #25

31 January 2014

This book intrigued me from the start. Edited by Melissa Marr, and including short stories from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Kelley Armstrong, and the duo who wrote the Beautiful Creatures trilogy, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, I couldn't help but grab this from Amazon. The stories themselves are retellings of tales that have influenced each author. I found that the stories I knew such as Rumpelstiltskin and Sleeping Beauty were my favourites. The retellings of stories that I didn't know didn't really have that special edge, as I couldn't really tell what was different about them. Still an enjoyable book though, and definitely worth a read if any of the authors I mentioned floats your boat. I think my personal favourite was Neil Gaiman's retelling of Sleeping Beauty.
Nicola's rating: 3/5
 I was pretty excited to see what Alyxandra Harvey's new series would be like, after the Drake Chronicles ended last year. I've heard that this is a trilogy, but I'm pretty sure the Drake Chronicles was extended a couple of times, so this could possibly go the same way. The book is set in Victorian London, and follows three cousins. Emma, Gretchen and Penelope have been unaware their whole lives of the fact that they come from a long line of witches, until Emma unwittingly breaks the spell that was keeping them bound. Now, they have to attend a finishing school for high society witches. Following in a similar vein to Gail Carriger's Finishing School series, except without the steampunk element, I really enjoyed this book. If you're a fan of witches, ghosts, gargoyles and fairytales, this book is probably for you!

Nicola's rating: 4/5

In other news, I did mention that I'd be subscribing to Birchbox for the first time this month as an alternative to Glossybox. I'm getting pretty irate though, as they've taken my payment for the January box but I've still not received it. I emailed them last week and was told that my replacement box would be with me soon. I've emailed them again to complain but I've not had a response, and I've not received any dispatch notifications either. Is anyone else having problems?

Glossybox January 2014

29 January 2014

I have to say, my review of this months Glossybox is probably going to be a minority opinion! I've seen a lot of bad or slightly disappointed blog posts floating around, but I actually quite like the box we've received this month. Here's what I got in my box.

First up, Yu-Be moisturising skin cream. We received two small tubes of this. Having just rubbed some onto my hand, it's got quite a strong scent, which I'm not sure many people will like, and the texture is almost waxy. Apparently this can be used as a lip balm, a remedy for dry skin, and a moisturiser. The product is Japanese, and I'm quite intrigued to see what it would be like as a lip balm. Judging by the smell it might taste a bit odd. As I was taking these photos, I realised that one of the tubes had split open, so that's had to be thrown away.

We also received a Balance Me body wash. This is apparently 'super-toning' and contains Juniper, Bergamot, Geranium and Lavender. It smells quite nice, slightly too floral for me, but for a sample sized bottle I can live with it. I've been pretty impressed by Balance Me products before, so hopefully this one will live up to my expectations.

I was pretty happy to see the tweezers from the Vintage Cosmetic Company in this months box. A pair of tweezers always comes in handy, but I know quite a few people out there have been unimpressed by products from this company before. I'm going to see how I get on with them before I pass judgement!

Next up, we have Puffy the Eye Bag Slayer Under Eye Patches from Anatomicals. I'm really interested in these, I'm definitely going to be doing a follow up post to let you know whether they're any good! Having had a look at the packaging to find out how to use them, they're not a quick fix. You've got to wear these bad boys for 30 minutes! Definitely an interesting product to try out though, and perfect for recovering from too much partying in December.

Finally, the other product that's caused some controversy this month. This is is the Vaseline Essential Moisture Lotion, and at £4.99 for a full size bottle weighing in at 400ml, we've been sent a small 50ml bottle which some people have seen as a bit of a swizz. I'm not massively bothered about this as I've got loads of body lotion to use up already from Christmas, but it's a bit of a poor showing from Glossybox when you look at the full-size products I received from Love Me Beauty this month. There's not really a lot more I can say about this product, other than it smells really nice!

Overall, I think Glossybox have done really well to stick to their theme of 'Back to Basics' for January. I think all of these items tie in really well, and while they may not blow you away due to the sizes of the samples, they're still handy things to have. I'll probably keep the shower gel and body lotion aside for my holiday in May.

I am pleased that I got this months box with Glossydots, and I have cancelled my subscription. I've had a few too many boxes that just didn't impress me, and since signing up to Love Me Beauty, it's been a bit of an eye-opener to see how well other boxes are doing in comparison.
I will still be keeping my eye on Glossybox's future efforts, in case they start to improve, but for now I think I'm going to see how I get on with Birchbox and Love Me Beauty.

Benefit Rockateur Blush

27 January 2014

I think I might be addicted to Benefit. I've never used their blushes before, but if they're all as nice as this one, I might need to start saving up my pennies for a splurge!


Rockateur comes in a beautifully designed box, which definitely fits with the rock aesthetic. Lace, studs and golden animal print decorate the outside of the box, and the inside is just as stunning.

How pretty is that?! This has such a gorgeous rose gold shimmer to it, and I don't know if it's just me, but the blush seems to have a really nice scent to it as well. Included with the blush is a lovely wooden handled brush with super soft bristles.

Here I've swatched the blush with my finger (bottom swatch) and with the brush. Clearly the brush gives a much lighter sweep of colour, which almost diffuses the rose colour to peach. Very nice.

Apologies for the horrible lighting in these pictures! The weather has not been kind to me recently. On the face the blush can be built to be really strong, or just lightly dusted on. I've built it up a bit here so that it showed up better in the photos, but it's still not ridiculously overpowering.

I think I might be in love! Have you tried the Rockateur blush? It's available here for £23.50.


Love Me Beauty Box-January 2014

26 January 2014

I've been eagerly awaiting January's Love Me Beauty box since I managed to nab the December one for cheaps earlier this month, and it's finally here! The first thing I thought when I picked up the box was 'Wow this is heavy!' I am so impressed with whats been included in this box, and I have to say, Glossybox and Birchbox are going to have to work pretty hard to beat this.

This time around I picked up option two, which has since changed on the website. Option two now comes with another Lord and Berry product, as opposed to this beast of a shower gel from Anatomicals.This is a full size 250ml bottle, which only retails for £3, but it's enormous! This has a lovely rose scent to it, and once I get through all of my Soap and Glory goodies, I'll be lathering up with this. Also, the packaging is pretty amusing.

Next up we have the Pureology hair mousse. I'm not really sure about this, if there'd been an option without it available, I'd have probably gone for that instead. The bottle says that this is for colour-treated hair, which mine isn't, but I'm sure that won't make much of a difference. I think I'll be giving this a go on a weekend in case it makes my hair look insane.

The hand cream collection has once again increased with this Weleda Sea Buckthorn cream. This has an unusual scent, it's quite orangey and slightly medicinal. Having just tested a small amount on the back of my hand, I'm quite impressed. It's absorbed into my skin really quickly, and it already feels softer. This one will probably get used up pretty quickly!

I also received this cute little eyeshadow from Nyx. I was hoping to get the gold champagne colour shown on the website, but this black sparkly shadow seems like it could be easily blended to achieve a dramatic smoky eye or a more manageable day time look. Pigment wise, it definitely falls into the smoky category, I had to use quite a lot to get the swatch so pigmented. This is a full size product which retails for £5.

And finally, we have this lovely mascara from Cosmetics a la Carte. The packaging is gorgeous, and very high end. I guess that shouldn't be surprising, as this is a full size product and retails at £23! It's got a lovely thin tapered brush, which I find easier to manage than the larger brushes. I've had a quick go with this and its really defined my lashes, and given them plenty of lift.

Overall, very impressive! I love the mix of products we've received, with hair, beauty, and bath & body being included in this months box. I will definitely be keeping my subscription to Love Me Beauty going. I've got a Glossybox and a Birchbox coming this month too, so keep your eyes peeled for the reviews on those.

Weekly Book Round Up #24

24 January 2014

This was such a weird book. Having read Melissa Marr's stuff before, I'd kind of got her down for creepy fairytales, but this was completely different. The story is set in a world inhabited by people who have always been there, and the 'arrivals'. The arrivals always appear when someone dies, and they come from different times and places, with no obvious pattern. However, not every death is permanent. Occasionally people wake up after 6 days. The world is described as sort of wild westy, very cowboyish. Lots of guns and saloons, and rival factions fighting for power, and for the newest arrival to join their side. Considering this was a short book, it took me quite a long time to get into it. I liked that it was something a bit different, but at the same time didn't enjoy as much as her other books.
Nicola's rating: 2.5/5
I've been interested in this since it came out. I love the Stephanie Plum books, so I couldn't wait to get my teeth into this. This is a new series from Janet Evanovich, which follows Kate O'Hare, an FBI agent, and Nick Fox, a con man she's been chasing for 5 years. In exchange for his freedom, the FBI decide to team Nick and Kate up to catch criminals through elaborate cons. I loved this, it was ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as Stephanie Plum, funny, sexy, and fast-paced. I love that they've set up the team from this con to reappear in the next book, and I can't wait for it to come out!
Nicola's rating: 4/5

Another two book week unfortunately. I've been insanely busy at home and at work this week, so reading has had to take a bit of a backseat!

Wedding Details #6

22 January 2014

This week, I'm talking photographers. The photographer is such a crucial part of your day! I searched around for quite a while before I settled on Distant Cloud Photography. Chris was brilliant both on the day, and when we first met him for our engagement shoot. We had so many people comment on how well he worked and the fact that he wasn't the standard 'bossy wedding photographer' stereotype.

He took some stunning shots of our day, and afterwards provided all photos in colour and black white on a memory stick. We then plotted out our photo album, and after Chris mocked it up and sent it to us to be checked over, it was all sent off to be made! When I received my album in the post I couldn't help showing it off to everyone! I'm pretty sure my family have gotten a bit bored of it now..

I just love the candid shots Chris captured, I much prefer this relaxed style of photography to just the standard poses. Obviously we had those included as well, but the candid shots are definitely my favourites!

I would definitely recommend Distant Cloud Photography to any Cambridgeshire brides, or any that are further afield! Drop him an email, check out his website, and you can also find him on Facebook.

How to Look the Best at Everything Set

20 January 2014

So this post is going to be a bit photo heavy, but I'm so excited about this set! Having not tried Benefit's make up before, this Christmas has been a complete bonanza! First off, how gorgeous is the packaging? The outer box is designed to look like a book, and it particularly reminds me of victorian manuals and guides. Clearly I was always going to love this.


I requested the set in the lightest shade available, as I'm pretty pale skinned. The set comes with a miniature Porefessional balm, a sample bottle of the Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation in Cheers to Me Champagne, two Boi-ing concealers, and the Me Vain? Champagne powder. There's also a handy Tips and Tricks book attached to the lid of the set.



I'm going to take you through applying the set as laid out in the Tips and Tricks book, beware, there's a scary make up free picture coming up!

Cue screams of horror.

So, I started with no make up, and a clean face. The first step is to apply the Porefessional Pro balm. This feels and looks like peanut butter, which was a little bit worrying! But it smoothes onto the skin really nicely.

With the Porefessional Pro balm applied.

Already there's a slight blurring effect. It smoothed my skin pretty well. The next step is the Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation. I applied this with a brush, as thats what I'm most comfortable with, but I'm sure using your fingertips is just as effective. I got this absolutely everywhere when I first used the pump though, go steady with it! I was quite nervous about applying this as I thought that it might be a bit too dark. Looking at the selection of foundations, I'd have probably gone for one of the ivory shades.

I was pretty pleasantly surprised though. It applied really nicely and blended well with the brush. I should really have moisturised first though, as it did cling to some dry patches of skin on my face.

With foundation.

The next step is the Boi-ing concealer. The Tips and Tricks book recommends blending these two shades together to create a custom concealer. I blended them on the back of my hand and then dabbed them under my eyes.

I'm not really sure if I applied enough, but I still felt that my under eye circles were quite visible.

After applying Boi-ing concealer.

The final step is the Me Vain? powder. I dusted this over my face with the brush provided, and I definitely think that this is the perfect finishing touch.

Below is the final look! Overall I'm pretty chuffed with this set. It's a great introduction to Benefit's make up, and enables you to use sample sizes of the more expensive products to get a feel for what you like and don't like. I think that the set provides a pretty decent coverage, but I did find it to be quite a bit heavier than the daily foundation that I'm used to. I would probably be more likely to use this set for a night out.

You can purchase the How to Look the Best at Everything set in Light here for £25.50.