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Beauty Blogger Bunch $150 MAC giveaway!

30 May 2014

The Beauty Blogger Bunch is at it again with another giveaway! This time we are giving away a $150 MAC Cosmetics giftcard, sponsored by these amazing ladies below! 

Giveaway will end June 18th and is open worldwide!

If you are a Beauty and or Fashion blogger and interested in joining our group please apply here!

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Weekly Book Round Up #42

This was a bit of a weird one. The main character, Juneau, has been raised in Alaska in what she believes to be a post- World War III society. However, one day after returning from hunting, she finds her entire clan gone. Through her connection to the Yara (a form of natural magic) Juneau traces her clan, and discovers that World War III never happened, and that she has been lied to by everyone she thought she could trust. Enlisting the help of Miles (who has his own reasons for helping Juneau) she heads off on a trip to try and rescue her family and the rest of the clan, whilst being chased by several groups who seem to be after Juneau for her connection to the Yara. This is the first book in a trilogy and it's ended on a massive cliffhanger, I can't wait to see where the series goes!

Nicola's rating: 3.5/5

 This is a book I was super excited about! Charlaine Harris is one of my favourite authors and I couldn't wait to see what her new series was like. This story is told from the viewpoints of the different inhabitants of Midnight, Texas. The characters are all vastly different, and not all entirely as they seem. The book mainly set the scene for a murder mystery and introduced the new characters to everyone. Initially I found the amount of characters slightly confusing, mixing up who was who, but after a while I really got into the story and now I can't wait for the next book! If you enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse novels, these are a must-read!

Nicola's rating: 5/5

Birchbox - May 2014

29 May 2014

I know I said that the April Birchbox was my last box, and I did unsubscribe, but then I saw the amazing things that everyone was getting in the special Harpers Bazaar collaboration box and I knew I was going to have to resubscribe!

I think you'll agree, a pretty impressive range of products! The item that really pushed me into subscribing again was the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish sample. I've heard so much about this from other bloggers that I just couldn't pass up the chance to give it a go! This came gorgeously wrapped up with a muslin cloth and instructions on how to use the product to get the most advantage from it, and I can't wait to give it a go!

Next up is this cute little bottle of bath and shower oil from Aromatherapy Associates. I've already had a bath with this and it smells divine. It's a gorgeous scent that definitely made me feel invigorated. I felt like it would probably be really nice to use if you have a cold, as it felt lovely when I breathed it in. The scent also lingered on my skin after my bath as well which was a nice bonus!

A couple of months back we received the Beauty Protector hair oil from Birchbox which I really loved, but unfortunately I knocked the bottle onto my bathroom floor and it smashed! Thankfully, the shampoo and conditioner in this months box are in plastic bottles so clumsy people like me don't waste them! I can't wait to give these a try, if they're anything like the hair oil then I'll love them.

I have been loving how much Benefit has been in the past few Birchboxes! I'm really pleased to add a sample of 'They're Real!' to my collection. This is a must-have mascara and I absolutely love it. It really does add volume and definition to your lashes, and if you haven't tried it yet, then you really need to! The only slight downside to it, is that it's notoriously difficult to remove.

This polish is absolutely gorgeous. I think this shade is called Cerise, and it's a lovely berry pink shade. I was super impressed with the application, the brush is a great size and the polish was incredibly easy to work with. It's also really high shine as you can see below, that's two coats without a top coat.

Birchbox have really blown me away this month. The April box was good, but this is even better! Obviously the boxes won't always maintain this standard, but I can't get over what a fabulous selection of products there is this month. Not only have you got make up, you've hair care and skin care, as well as a nail polish. I'm sure some people will be a bit grumpy about the lack of a lifestyle extra this month, but the fact that Birchbox have included both a shampoo and conditioner more than makes up for that for me! I'll be staying subscribed for a bit longer it seems...

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win TheBalm's 'How 'bout Them Apples?' blush palette HERE!

Duty Free Treats!

28 May 2014

While I managed to resist the MAC and Benefit stalls on the way to Corfu, I couldn't resist a couple of the in-flight treats on the way home! I managed to nab a DKNY perfume set and a gorgeous set of OPI polishes as a post holiday treat.

I absolutely love the DKNY Be Delicious fragrances. I already had a bottle of the Red Delicious, but my original green Be Delicious had run out, and I'd wanted to try the Fresh Blossom scent for ages so I couldn't let these pass me by! Not only are the bottles super pretty, the scents are divine. Be Delicious smells exactly like crisp apples, whereas Fresh Blossom has a much more subtle floral scent, yet it still has a hint of that fresh fruity fragrance we've come to expect from the Delicious range.

How pretty are these? I've never tried OPI polishes before, and these cute mini bottles were just calling to me!

Here I've swatched Tickle My France-y, Passion, and Charged up Cherry. Tickle My France-y is a lovely mink shade which is most visible on my little finger in the picture below. Passion is a barely there pink. I've swatched it with two coats below and it seems to mainly be a 'your nails but better' shade. Charged up Cherry is a vibrant cherry pink, it's really eye-catching!

Cajun Shrimp is a shocking hot pink which would look great if I'd managed to get any sort of tan in Corfu at all! Malaga Wine and Lincoln Park After Dark are much more autumnal shades, a gorgeous deep crimson red, and a purple so dark it's almost black. I was really impressed with the formula of these polishes. They were incredibly easy to apply, and I didn't find them to be streaky at all.

I can definitely see myself broadening my nail polish collection to include some more OPI polishes, these miniatures have given me a great introduction to the brand!

Are you a duty free fiend? What's your favourite thing to pick up in airports?

Love Me Beauty Box - May 2014

27 May 2014

This month's Love Me Beauty menu was a bit of a surprise, as they decided to take their boxes in more of a 'lifestyle' direction. Each menu contained some tea bags and notebooks as well as some beauty items. Here's what I received!

First up, the tea. I don't drink tea, so I was a little bit disappointed to see tea bags included as one of the items in each box. I do have friends who are total tea addicts though, so these will be rehomed!

I loved the idea of including notebooks in the boxes, especially with these adorable prints! I can never remember things unless I write them down, and one of these notebooks has already found it's way into my desk drawer for taking notes in meetings. I've no doubt that these will come in handy while I'm on holiday too!

 I already have a lot of pink nail polishes, so I will probably be looking to rehome this as well! It's a very vivid shade of pink, as opposed to the baby pink it's described as, but the formula seems really nice.

We also received these cute little tubs from Suti. One of them is a foot balm, and the others (I think) are for your face. They all smell very herby which I don't mind but I know not everyone will like. They seem quite oily which I am always a little bit wary about with facial creams. They don't always tend to work well with my skin but I will try them out and report back!

Finally, we received this lip balm from Raw Skincare. This was the main reason for me picking menu number 3 this month, as the other options were mint and ginger beer flavour balms. This one should be perfect for me as it's meant to be super moisturising! 

Overall, I'm happy with the box but it could have been better. Love Me Beauty have recently been slightly slipping in my opinion which is a shame because they were my absolute favourite box for a while! I still really like them, but I think they need to up their game a bit in the next couple of months otherwise I will be unsubscribing.

What did you think to this month's box? Did you prefer the lifestyle theme?

Weekly Book Round Up #41

26 May 2014

For the first time in ages I managed to get more than one book read in a week! Obviously, I was on  holiday so there was a lot of catching up on my Kindle books, and I'm aware that this is a bit of a weird time of week to be posting a round up, but I've got a lot of blog posts that I want to get posted this week so prepare for a lot of posts this week!

This book was really odd. It's the first Kate Atkinson I've read, and it follows the lives and various reincarnations of Ursula. Born in 1910, Ursula lives and dies repeatedly in different ways, seemingly searching for a way to live her life 'right'. Large parts of the book are focused on her different lives in the second world war. In one, she is living in Germany with access to Eva Braun. In another, she is working as a bomb site responder. I really enjoyed reading this book, and the way it was written, but I finished it feeling as though I'd missed something. 

Nicola's rating: 3.5/5

I first read Adrian Mole when I was in school, and after hearing about the very sad death of Sue Townsend, I decided to revisit it on holiday. It's just as funny as I remembered, and I can't wait to read the sequels. For those that haven't read the book, think Louise Rennison's 'Angus, Things and Full-Frontal Snogging', but set in the 1980's and from a male point of view and you're pretty much spot on. Great fun, and a must-read if you haven't already!

Nicola's rating: 4.5/5

This was the book I was most excited to read on holiday. The final book in Laini Taylor's masterpiece 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' trilogy. The story has followed the battle between the chimaera and the angels to it's peak, and now everything hangs in the balance. I can't really review this book in a way that will do it justice, but for me, this is a must-read trilogy. I think that this is one of my favourite series of all time, and Laini Taylor has become one of my favourite authors. I can't wait to see what she'll write next!

Nicola's rating: 5/5 

My giveaway to win TheBalm's 'How 'bout them Apples' palette still has 11 days left to go! Remember to keep tweeting about it for more entries, and if you haven't already entered, you can find it HERE!

Restia Suites, Corfu - May 2014

25 May 2014

After a relaxing week away, I'm back and ready to get blogging! Luke and I went away to celebrate our honeymoon/first wedding anniversary, and with a lot of help from generous friends and family, we were able to book a week's stay in a VIP suite at Restia Suites in Corfu. Restia Suites is a 5 star hotel situated in Acharavi, a quiet resort on the northern side of the island. 

We booked taxi transfers to and from the airport which made a massive difference to our journeys each way. The coach transfers took 2 and a half hours, whereas our taxi took only 45 minutes! Upon our arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by the owner and his lovely dog, and offered champagne and cool towels. After filling in some forms, we were taken to our rooms and shown how everything worked. The room itself was amazing. As we'd booked a VIP suite, we had our own private garden with a pool and sunloungers, as well as a huge jacuzzi bath and a steam room/shower.

We stayed at Restia on a half board basis, which meant we were supplied with breakfast and a three course meal in the evening. The breakfast buffet was enormous and included a full english, greek yoghurt, cereal, fresh fruit, and pastries. The evening meals were a little bit restrictive, with there being a set menu for the week we stayed. There are two restaurants at Restia, the main one is available at any time, but the other smaller restaurant requires booking as it can only seat 6 couples at a time. We ate at both while we stayed, and the food was fantastic. They also had a couple of specials nights, Thursday was Greek BBQ night which we really enjoyed. Lots of kebabs and burgers! For lunch, we walked along the beach to visit some of the small cafes in Acharavi that are positioned along the seafront. These are plentiful, and often provide vast menus with a mix of both traditional Greek and English meals.

The beaches around Acharavi tend to alternate between sandy and pebbly, and the walk from the hotel took us about half an hour to get to the nearest cafe. The surrounding landscape is absolutely gorgeous though, with a lot of lush greenery and mountains. The hotel provided some sunbeds out on the beach, but we didn't see many people using them during our stay. The main pool seemed to be more popular, especially as it was located right next to the hotel bar! 

 We had a couple of spa treatments during our stay, which really helped us settle into the relaxing atmosphere at Restia. We enjoyed a massage with aromatherapy oils and an Indian head massage, and both of these left me nearly asleep in the spa! The staff at Restia were always incredibly attentive and helpful, especially the waiting, cleaning and main reception staff! Nothing was ever too much for them to help with and our stay wouldn't have been the same without them. We both absolutely loved visiting Restia and Corfu, and we're already talking about saving up to go back! 

You can find out more information about Restia Suites at their website here, or via the Thomson website here.

I just wanted to add, I've not been reimbursed or asked to write this, Restia just genuinely is THAT good! 

Where are you off to on your holidays this year?