Books of July

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Books of July

June was a fairly successful month for reading but July, on the other hand, was a little iffy. There have been plenty of times where I’ve started a book, gotten to page 50 and given up (Hillary Clinton Hard Choices being a prime example) and this happened for a brief period in July. Some books are just difficult to get into and I seemed to find one that took a while for my brain to decide it was enjoying the story.

I watched the film version of The Shining 10 years ago and I remember very little of it. I can recall the scene in room 217, the bit with the twins and the part where Jack is at that bar and also shouting “here’s Johnny” but that’s about it. I guess not remembering much of a film works in your favour when reading the book the film is based on as you go in with very few preconceptions. The Shining is the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King so I have absolutely nothing to compare it to. If his other books start as slowly as The Shining, I think it may take me a while to get through the rest of his work.

The Grownup, The Shining

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it. I loved how the story progressed and how things became more and more disturbing the further I got into the book. The character development, more so of Wendy than anyone else, was impeccable and I thoroughly enjoyed the horror elements. What I didn’t like, though, was the ending. I feel like a story set in a hotel with a creepy past and with a 5-year-old child who can see things others can’t and a recovering alcoholic permanently on the verge of a breakdown should’ve ended in a more exciting manner. It just felt abrupt and completely random.

I’d recommend The Shining if that’s what you’re into but if you’re not a fan of books that are slow to progress and are occasionally frightfully obvious, I’d stay clear. I picked up The Shining because it’s a classic but my thoughts on it are a little jumbled. I probably won’t be rereading it anytime soon.

The only other book I read in July was The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. I’m not going to lie, I detested Gone Girl both the book and film – I can’t be the only person who finds Ben Affleck to be painfully boring – so why I bought The Grownup I’ll never know.

The Grownup, The Shining

The story starts off promising. The opening sentence is about handjobs and then it progresses into a quick insight into the protagonist's past. It’s exactly what I expect from a Gillian Flynn novel; the main character being manipulative, ambitious and a little bit of a narcissist hardly came as a surprise. The beginning was obvious, the middle, however, was interesting. The story begins to twist and turn and the female narrator finds herself taking advantage of a woman called Susan. She plays on Susan’s fear but while doing so, she starts to realise that there are some creepy things going on.

The opening sentence had me interested, the middle had me hooked and the ending pissed me off. The Grownup is less than 100 pages but because of how the story plays out, it’s next to impossible to give a real explanation as to what was actually going on with Susan in such a short space of time. Maybe Gillian Flynn wanted to leave things to the reader’s interpretation or maybe she just wanted to annoy me but whatever the case, I resent her for it. I think The Grownup could’ve been brilliant had it been a full-length novel but 60 odd pages just aren't enough. At least it was a productive way to kill half an hour, though.

I wish I could be more positive about both books and I think over time, I will eventually appreciate The Shining for what it is but for now, I’m a little mad at Stephen King and Gillian Flynn. Despite the slight anger, I would urge you to read The Shining if books that involve hedges shaped into animals and elevators that move on their own is your deal. I wouldn’t recommend The Grownup unless you feel like losing however long it takes you to read 67 pages (did I honestly pay £2 for 67 pages?) though.

Urban Decay Alice Through The Looking Glass Lipsticks Review

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Thanks to the lovely lady that is Adrienne from The Sunday Girl and a giveaway she held in conjunction with Urban Decay, I am now the proud owner of the entire Alice Through the Looking Glass lipstick collection. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I tried to purchase one of these lipsticks only to discover they were all sold out so to have them all makes me very happy. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, does it?

Urban Decay Alice Through the Looking Glass Lipstick Collection
From left to right: Time, Iracebeth, Mirana, Alice and Mad Hatter.

The reason I kept trying to buy at least one of these lipsticks so much was because they’re different from my usual pink and red shades that I usually gravitate towards. I do like a bold lip but I tend to stick with something like MAC Impassioned or Illamasqua Luster over the truly bold colours. The Urban Decay Alice Through the Looking Glass collection is made up of 3 more daring shades and 2 standard lipstick colours so naturally, I was drawn to them.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated with the bolder choices in this collection when I received them so I played it safe and used Iracebeth first. Iracebeth is a gorgeous matte – although I’d argue it leaves more of a satin finish – red lipstick with pink undertones and it wears like an absolute dream. It’s possibly my new favourite red lipstick as it’s such a classic, bright red.

Mad Hatter came after Iracebeth as I wanted to use it to build up the courage to wear Mirana. Mad Hatter is a beautiful bright purple shade and is made a tad more wearable by the pink undertones. It has some shimmer to it which would typically bother me but because Mad Hatter is a bolder choice anyway, I kind of like the shimmer. It probably looks a little odd on my skin tone but I love it regardless.

Urban Decay Alice Through the Looking Glass Lipstick Collection Swatches
From left to right: Alice, Mad Hatter, Time, Iracebeth and Mirana.

I think you’ve already figured Mirana was worn next. I was really worried about Mirana originally because I usually wear all black, have black hair and my skin is incredibly pale so I had it in my head that this was going to make me look very gothic (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my scene anymore). I think, although I’m sure some will disagree, that I managed to get away with this deep berry shade without looking like I belonged at a Cradle of Filth concert too much.

Once I’d gotten over my Mirana fears, I plucked up the courage to wear Time. I’d argue that Time is the most daring shade of lipstick in this collection as it’s a gun metal blue with a silver shimmer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see many people wandering down the street with blue lips so I expected some odd looks while wearing Time. I didn’t expect to like Time as much as I did but I actually felt really comfortable while wearing it. It probably makes me look like I belong in a bad 90s death metal band but hey ho, I’m happy to rock it to do the weekly food shop so there’s a plus.

Finally, it was time to try Alice and this is where my hype for these lipsticks ends. I hate nude lipsticks as it is but as soon as you throw sheer into it, I take myself out of the equation. I can understand why Alice is in this collection but it’s just not for me. I’d rather prance around in Mirana than I would Alice…that was a really weird sentence.

Urban Decay Alice Through the Looking Glass Lipstick Collection

Collectively, these lipsticks aren’t the best but they’re far away from being the worst. They apply a little patchily so I have to break out the lip brush to ensure I have an even colour but they all wear for around 6-8 hours (unless you eat a burger) and don’t dry out my lips. The only gripe I have with these lipsticks beyond Alice is the packaging. The actual design of the packaging is fabulous but the functionality of each lipstick case is awful. The lipsticks often get stuck when you’re trying to twist them up and down so I’m forever panicking that one day, the lipsticks will get stuck in the tube and never see the light of day again. Was that too dramatic?

That one gripe aside, I’ve barely given any of my other lipsticks a second thought since receiving this collection and I’m finding myself planning makeup looks around 4 out of 5 of these shades. I’m still trying to work out how I can wear Time to my cousin’s wedding without my uncle calling me a goth (he’s been calling me one since 2006) all night though. Suggestions are welcome!

P.S. Please forgive me for the shaky swatches. I typically do swatches on my left arm as I’m right handed but thanks to the tattoo that takes up most of that arm, it just wasn’t possible this time around. My left hand basically flailed about uselessly while I did these swatches.

P.P.S Are Cradle of Filth still cool, actually, were they ever cool?

"Why Don't You Wear Makeup?"

Monday, 11 July 2016

Why don't you wear makeup?

“Why don’t you wear make up?”

Ah the one question from my teenage years that would’ve made me a millionaire if I had a pound for every time someone asked me it. I don’t know why a girl not wearing make up is such a problem but apparently, it’s a very big deal.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really care about how I looked when I was younger. Obviously I showered every day but for the most part, my hair was tied up in the same low ponytail and the only thing that was applied to my face was moisturiser. I liked it that way; as far as I was concerned I was a little too young for make up. Who was I going to be impressing with a bright orange face, spidery eyelashes and too much blush at the age of 11?

Not everyone had the same idea as me though. Somewhere between the end of primary school and the beginning of high school my childhood friends had acquired a big batch of make up and were piling everything onto their faces. Their mismatched foundation and inability to blend properly did not appeal to me whatsoever. It became apparent that they thought, at the tender ages of 11 and 12, they were more “adult” than they actually were so we slowly drifted apart.

A few of the friends I made during high school also slathered on the make up like there was no tomorrow. Every day they would show up with layers upon layers of concealer, foundation and powder and it just looked so odd to me. It took everything I had to not tell them I didn’t want to look like a cake face like them when they asked me why I didn’t wear make up.

Of course I did eventually start wearing make up but it was mostly eyeliner and I was 14. I did own a foundation, powder, one eyeshadow and one lipstick but I didn’t really care too much about them. I was atrocious at applying my make up and I knew that (although it was usually light enough for no one to really notice) so for the most part, I didn’t bother. I did eventually get sucked into the full face of make up but only once I actually became legal to fornicate – although it was my butt that drew in the guys as opposed to my face.

Even now, 12 years later, I still wonder why people couldn’t understand my bare face. Maybe my lack of make up offended them or maybe it was just good old fashioned peer pressure but whatever the case, it still makes no sense to me. I wasn’t going to school to impress anyone because quite frankly, why would I want to? It’s not like anyone I did impress could take me on a date that went beyond the cinema and Pizza Hut anyway. Maybe now at 23 I can wander around with no make up on and no one will demand to know why my face is not covered in the gunk but as a teenager, it’s just not allowed.

XHC Coconut Water Shampoo and Conditioner Review

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Have you ever accidentally bought 3 bottles of conditioner because you were adamant they were shampoo when you put them in your basket? You probably haven’t but for some strange reason I have. I bought 3 bottles of coconut scented conditioner and 1 bottle of shampoo from the same brand but in a totally different scent. Due to this major brain fart, I found myself in need of a new shampoo and that need led me to the XHC Coconut Water shampoo and conditioner. Like I actually needed another conditioner!

XHC Coconut Water shampoo and conditioner

I actually stumbled upon XHC while looking at the cookies on the bargain shelf in Tesco (do all Tescos have this or is it just my local one?). I was drawn to the shampoo and conditioner because of the design of the bottles. They’re so sleek and glamorous that my brain was fooled into believing that they were from a high-end brand.

The XHC Coconut Water shampoo and conditioner promise to leave your hair looking sleek and shimmering by using high-quality ingredients and a special formula. I’m not exactly clued up on ingredients, chemicals and all that good stuff but I find it very difficult to believe that a shampoo and conditioner that costs £1 per bottle uses high-quality ingredients. That’s possibly me being an absolute snob but cmon, how does a business make a profit using high-quality ingredients but selling at a very low price? My spidey sense is tingling.

XHC Coconut Water Hydrating shampoo and conditioner

Regardless of the potential ingredient debate, the XHC shampoo and conditioner perform exactly how you’d want them to. The shampoo lathers up really well and it does a great job at washing your hair. The conditioner leaves your hair feeling smooth but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it makes it sleek and shimmering. It does leave behind that slight silicone feel a lot of high street brand conditioners do so if you’re not a fan of that, steer clear of this conditioner.

When it comes to hair products with “coconut” in the title, I expect to be surrounded by a gorgeous coconut smell when I’m using them but sadly, the shampoo and conditioner don’t give me that. There is a coconut scent but it’s very faint and it definitely does not linger on your hair once you’ve finished rinsing. To be perfectly honest, the shampoo doesn’t actually remove any smell from your hair so if you’ve been hanging out in a smoke filled room, you’ll be washing your hair in vain with this product.

XHC Coconut Water shampoo and conditioner

Despite the fact I definitely didn’t need another conditioner, I feel ok with myself for giving in and purchasing the XHC shampoo and conditioner. I wouldn’t shout about how brilliant either product is from the rooftops but I think for the price, they do an adequate job. Not to mention the bottles look really good in my shower. I’m a sucker for good packaging!

Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used in this post.

Books of June

Monday, 4 July 2016

Books to read

As the sun made an appearance for 2 weeks and was then quickly followed up by the dreaded Euros, June was a productive month reading wise for me. I’ve mentioned before that I am no longer an avid reader but I’m doing my best to get back into it. I managed to get through 3 books in June which isn’t a large amount but considering I haven’t read anything beyond an article on Forbes for months, I’m quite pleased with myself.

The first book I finished was Guy Martin’s second book When You Dead, You Dead. Guy Martin’s first book is an overview of his childhood, racing career and his general day to day life whereas this book focuses predominately on his TV escapades and racing. He talks about the making of the second season of Speed with Guy Martin - which you should definitely watch if you haven’t already – as well as the preparation for his Wall of Death record attempt. He also ponders whether he still wants to race motorbikes and seems to battle with himself throughout the entire book.

It’s really interesting to be able to see a little more into Guy Martin’s world and the way he thinks. If you were to read this book without really knowing about Guy Martin, you’d probably think he’s just being an arrogant, ungrateful imbecile at parts but considering he’s not a showman and has never strived for fame, a lot of the points he makes in the book are very understandable. Weirdly, I kind of hope the people who bombard him at events read this and stop crowding him so much. I just want the man to have more time to take pictures of his dog so he can include them in his next book (should he write one).

James Patterson, Guy Martin, Chris Kyle

The second book I read was American Sniper by Chris Kyle. I saw the film adaption and thought it was brilliant so, when my other half bought the book, I was excited to read it. Despite my excitement, I actually struggled to get through American Sniper. While I figured the film would be a little different from the true story, I didn’t think the difference would be as big as it is.

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to read the words written by a man hailed as an American hero but the story lacked something for me. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again and, to be fair, I guess I was. There’s not exactly much you can write when you’re fighting the same people in the same place for a long period of time. It’s a shame as I was ready to love this book but it just wasn’t for me.

Cross Justice by James Patterson was the final book I read in June and this was finished very quickly. There are very few books that I find difficult to put down but I couldn’t get enough of Cross Justice; I just needed to know what happened next.

Cross Justice, When You Dead You Dead, American Sniper

The story is one of those far-fetched plots that has a one in a million chance of actually happening but is just too good to ignore. It focuses on Alex Cross, a man who finds himself returning to his hometown in North Carolina 30 years after he moved to Washington following the death of his parents. The reason for his visit is he's trying to help prove his cousin’s innocence. His cousin has been accused of a heinous crime but it’s not just the crime Alex Cross uncovers. There are so many different twists and dead ends that it’s impossible to say “I’ll go to bed after this chapter”. There’s so much to this story that I’ve already forgotten a few parts despite only finishing it a couple of days ago. I think that’s a good excuse to read it again!

I don’t think I could recommend Cross Justice and When You Dead, You Dead enough; both of them are excellent books and really enjoyable to read. As for American Sniper, well, if you’re really into reading about the Iraq war from a Navy SEAL’s perspective then I would urge you to read this but otherwise, I’d advise you to just watch the movie instead. I’d also advise you to watch Speed with Guy Martin and Guy Martin’s Wall of Death. Basically, I’ve just turned a post about reading into a post about TV. That’s a talent I can brag about right?
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