The Power by Naomi Alderman Review

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Contains spoilers

With the fall of a certain Hollywood producer that I have fondly nicknamed “Harvey Wankstain” and the sexual harassment that has been brewing under the surface of blockbuster movies for quite some time finally making itself known, the idea of women dominating the world is appealing. With more women coming forward about their own dealings with sexual harassment and sexual assault there are more men – a term I use loosely - waiting to tear them down. You can’t share your own experiences without a male telling you that it’s a compliment, that you’re overreacting, that you should be grateful for the attention. It’s easy to ponder how life would be if the world’s power were switched; if men were the oppressed ones while women stomped all over them and Naomi Alderman explores just that in her fourth novel, The Power*.

The Power Naomi Alderman

The Power is a dystopian sci-fi novel that is set over the period of 10 years. During this timeframe, we’re introduced to and follow the lives of 4 main characters; 3 female and 1 male. The first character we’re introduced to is by far the most exciting. Fourteen-year-old Roxy is one of the youngest and one of the first girls to experience the power; an ability women have to generate electricity through their fingertips. She’s the daughter of a British mob boss which shapes her character development throughout the story particularly towards the end. If this was any other novel, Roxy would be a male as she’s often depicted as a strong hero who exudes confidence while maintaining some degree of vulnerability.

Tunde is the one main male character of The Power. He is the first male who experiences the women’s dominance in the story and his experience comes during a minor sexual encounter. The feeling leaves him confused but sparks a degree of interest. He chooses to film another female letting off her power and after posting it online, decides to become a journalist documenting the rise of the women. It’s through Tunde that we see how the power is developing across the world especially in poorer countries where women are significantly more oppressed than in the western world.

I personally found the other 2 main characters, Allie and Margot, to be rather dull and one dimensional. Allie is an orphan who escapes the abuse of the people who are trusted to look after her and lives in a convent. Throughout The Power, Allie becomes Mother Eve and brings a heavy religious aspect to the story. Margot on the other-hand is a mother and a mayor who desperately tries to hide her power at all times. Throughout The Power, Margot is presented as a strong female who uses her political connections to build up girls and help them control their own power.

The beautiful thing about The Power is how easily Naomi Alderman has taken everyday life for girls everywhere and turned it on its head. There are rape culture references scattered throughout the story as the women justify what they’re doing to men, there’s the use of religion which more often or not paints the women as the weaker sex but in this scenario, it’s used to empower women and the men are fearful for their lives and terrified that women will humiliate them through rape and assault. Alderman makes the switch so easily that it provokes your own sense of empowerment while also building up rage towards the men who resist the female uprising. The anger I felt was predominately directed at the males posters of a Reddit style forum as they plotted to take the women down and assert their dominance once more. It is an accurate depiction of the thoughts of some men expressed violently on the internet.

The Power Naomi Alderman

The Reddit forum in question is mainly a discussion surrounding the real identity of Mother Eve i.e. Allie and this is where my interest in the book began to waver. Allie/Mother Eve preaches religion to anyone who is willing to listen and it got to the point where my eyes would roll whenever I saw her name at the top of a new chapter. I’m struggling to find the value Allie/Mother Eve brings to the story other than being a stepping stone for Roxy's character development.

As the story progresses and tensions between males and females rise, it starts to feel disjointed. Allie/Mother Eve seems to be everywhere and nowhere and Margot becomes governor but continues to contribute nothing of interest to the overall development of The Power. Roxy however, is the first and only introduction we get to a woman losing her “skein”; the part of a woman that allows her to generate the electricity.

Roxy’s brother and father surgically remove the skein so it can be implanted into her brother which leaves the once powerful and sure of herself Roxy, intensely vulnerable and scared. Tunde also begins to fear for his safety as tensions boil over and laws are implemented that make men worthless. He needs to escape but he finds himself in the mountains and a witness to a rape and the death of a man. It’s at this point where a mild romance between Roxy and Tunde blossoms which in turn gives Roxy a more human quality to her as a character.

It’s not long after this moment where The Power falls flat on its face. The ending to the entire novel seems rushed and it highlights how many loose ends remain throughout the story. The entire premise of the story is built on all women reacting violently with their power and, although I understand what Alderman was trying to do with this depiction, I personally felt it removed my overall enjoyment of the book as it painted women as cold, callous and shallow. Other than Tunde, Roxy and the women who were victims of sex-trafficking it was hard to cheer for anyone throughout The Power.

If I had to read The Power all over again, I would sit on my hands and take an exceptionally long time to do it. It’s not that it’s a terrible read, it would make an excellent TV show (I believe it is being turned into just that) but it’s not without its flaws and unfortunately, the flaws outweigh the entire premise of the story.

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

Book Haul

Sunday, 8 October 2017

I was promised a book if I got out of bed. It was 2 pm on a sunny Saturday so I really shouldn’t have been in bed that late anyway but regardless if being horizontal for prolonged periods of time means I get a book then I will happily snooze away. I did say I was promised a book, didn’t I? As in, a single book but you’ve probably already figured out based on the fact this post is entitled “book haul” that I walked away with more than one.

Book Haul

Let’s do the book I’m most excited to read first. I saw the latest film adaption of IT in the cinema last week and ended up with more questions than answers so I decided I had to read the book. IT, in case you’ve somehow managed to avoid the clown hysteria, is written by horror extraordinaire Stephen King. He tells the tale of Pennywise, a clown that awakens every 27 years to terrorize a small town in Maine, USA, and prey on children. Pennywise becomes the thing you fear the most and haunts a group of children before they decide to take him down. The latest film adaption is incredible (Bill Skarsgard anyone!) and I’m hoping I’m going to love the book just as much as I love the film.

Books To Read

Home Going by Yaa Gyasi was another book I picked up. I have recently finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and wanted to delve a little deeper into slavery in America. Home Going is about 2 women; one who is sold into slavery and the other a wife of a slave trader. Each chapter focuses on a different descendent of the two women so we learn about their lives through the eyes of a relation. I’ve heard good things about Home Going so I have high expectations.

You may remember this book from such awful films starring Brad Pitt. World War Z the film adaption was dreadful but the book is supposed to be spectacular. World War Z by Max Brooks is, of course, about the zombie apocalypse and is written from the perspective of the survivors in an interview style. It follows the people who were there at the beginning of the outbreak and their take on events. Personally, I’m not into zombie things but World War Z doesn’t sound like the usual cliché zombie apocalypse book so I’m very intrigued by it.

Books To Read

A recent addition to my book wishlist is I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin and I already get to remove it as I now own it. I Am Not Your Negro is an accompaniment to the documentary directed by Raoul Peck. Civil rights activist James Baldwin started a project to tell the story of America through Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers; all of which are murdered black civil rights activists. James Baldwin died before his project was complete so Raoul Peck finished the project using James Baldwin’s voice and notes through the documentary. I haven’t watched I Am Not Your Negro (it’s currently on my watchlist ) but I’m in two minds as to whether I should read the book or watch the documentary first. Either way, this subject matter is right up my street!

With the recent shooting in America, it seems a little morbid to read a book on the subject but I’m doing it regardless. Every day, there are seven children and teenagers killed by guns in America and Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge tells the story of 10 deaths on November 23rd, 2013. These stories are of children and teenagers you probably never heard about, they flew under the radar because it’s such a common thing to happen; media outlets will not waste their time reporting on the deaths. Gary Younge chose these deaths at random and researched their family and their lives up until the day they died. Another Day in the Death of America is going to be an emotionally difficult and an incredibly frustrating read but it’s disturbingly interesting.

Books To Read

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Amazon TV show The Man in the High Castle but I didn’t realize it was originally a book until my other half picked it up. In Philip K. Dick’s novel World War II went a bit wrong for the rest of the world and now the Nazis run New York (sorry New York-born rappers), the Japanese control California and the entire continent of African no longer exists. Hitler is incapacitated throughout the story so his hideous power is overshadowed by the men trying to take his place. The Man in the High Castle is a sci-fi novel which isn’t usually my cup of tea but I think I may make an exception this time around. I’ve also just discovered – through writing this post – that Philip K. Dick is the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the novel that inspired Blade Runner so there’s that random fact to run with. I didn’t like Blade Runner so this doesn’t bode well for me.

Finally, we have The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton. This was actually chosen by my other half as I’ve introduced him to the wonder of podcasts and he’s really getting into philosophical ones. The Consolations of Philosophy jumps into things such as lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety, the fear of failure and pressure to conform (just to completely quote the synopsis). I believe the book is designed to help us live our lives and as I’m forever bothered by 5 out of 6 of the above things, I should probably get stuck into The Consolations of Philosophy sooner than later.

I’m really excited about the variety of books I’ve chosen this time around. I’ve been researching present racism in America and historic slavery a lot recently so having physical material to further my personal studies is extremely appealing right now. My to be read pile is getting far too big but I need more books. If I stay in bed until 2 pm again next Saturday will I get more?

What Are Essential Oils?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Watercolour Leaves

You’ve probably heard of it in passing but have never really considered what it might be. You might even use a few every single day without even realising. You could be watching a shiny advert on TV right now (get your eyes off the TV and pay attention to me!) that is using them in a way to make their product sound like the greatest thing imaginable. You may know the name but don’t actually know what it all means and that’s where I come in. Essential oils meet reader, fabulous reader meet essential oils.

Before we dive too deep into the essential oils swimming pool, let’s actually talk about what the bloody hell these things are. Essential oils are derived from plants and are used for an abundance of things. Some essential oils are used to help us sleep, to promote calmness particularly in anxiety sufferers, to assist acne prone skin and others are used in perfume. There is a long list of essential oils and as much as I’d love to prattle on about the different type of essential oils, I think we’ll just cover the basics for now.

When I was a kid I had a huge issue with a very dry and flaky scalp caused by eczema. I had to use this foul smelling shampoo for months on end and it was of course made from, everyone’s favourite essential oil, tea tree oil. I detested the scent but it eliminated the dry, flaky skin and stopped me from scratching my head a million times a day (not something you want to do in primary school as it actually makes you look like you have nits!). Tea tree oil can also help with infections, acne and can improve the appearance of scars. It may not be my favourite smell in the world but boy does it get the job done!

Rose oil is something I come across on a regular basis since I have a habit of gravitating towards natural skincare products. Rose oil is used for its scent as it’s believed to give you a little mood boost (some say it’s an aphrodisiac as well but I can’t confirm or deny this) and, let’s face it, it smells delightful. Rose oil is also great at soothing and calming the skin; it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that my favourite moisturisers for battling eczema flare-ups and even sunburnt skin all contain rose oil.

Now for all you stomach issue sufferers out there, you might want to try some peppermint oil if you haven’t already done so. A lot of my family suffer from stomach issues and they all swear by peppermint to keep their symptoms at bay. Not only does peppermint have a calming and cooling effect on the body it also controls symptoms of the likes of IBS; the vast majority of my family who have seen their doctor for their issues have been prescribed peppermint oil tablets.

Hands up if you struggle to get to sleep! Yeah, I feel you! Fortunately, there are some great essential oils to help with that as well. Tuberose oil is one of the real magic oils that does a variety of things. It can help you sleep, relieve stress, help with anxiety and depression and can promote better blood circulation. Frankincense (yeah that thing they brought Jesus) oil can also help you get a better night’s sleep while simultaneously healing acne and preventing the signs of aging. Who doesn’t want to sleep while their body maintains their youthful look?

I have something in common with this oil; we share a name…minus the oil part of course. Melissa oil treats skin issues like eczema while also relieving allergies and fighting cold sores. It can help relieve symptoms of PMS, promote healthier digestion and it puts up a good fight against the cold and flu. This oil is so much more badass than I am, maybe I should change my name as I’m clearly not worthy of it.

If you suffer from dandruff but don’t like using an anti-dandruff shampoo that is full of chemicals and tested on animals (I’m looking at you certain shampoo brand that eliminates the look of flakes from 2 feet away) you might want to check out clary sage oil. Clary sage is an antiseptic and has a calming aroma; it is great at helping fight dandruff and can also be used in facial cleansers. It makes for a good natural deodorant and, like Melissa oil, it can help when menstruation comes to town.

Ok, I think we’ve covered a decent number of oils here so I shall let you jump forth into the essential oils swimming pool and let you choose what you think is best for you. The beautiful thing about essential oils is you’re probably already using the more commonly known ones in your everyday products without actually realising but there are so much more to discover. The majority of them are easily accessible and easy to use but make sure you read any instructions especially since some are more beneficial in a topical cream for certain things. Happy essential oiling...that's not a thing is it?

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with New Directions Aromatics

Soap & Glory Hand Food Review

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

If there is one thing I do without fail each and every single day it’s moisturise my entire body. As soon as I’m dry after my morning shower a moisturiser will be slathered all over my skin before I get dressed. I feel like my morning routine isn’t complete unless there’s a faint smell of chocolate (thank you Palmer’s Cocoa Butter) or vanilla (and thank you Lush Sympathy for the Skin) lingering on my skin. I moisturise and moisturise but I forget about the part of my body that is used in almost everything I do; my hands! My hands rarely get the TLC they deserve and I’ve gone years without bothering to moisturise or *gulp* apply sunscreen to them. They’ve forgiven me for now but I had to change my lazy attitude towards hand cream before my hands resented me for good.

Soap and Glory Hand Food

Soap & Glory is quickly becoming my favourite skincare brand so naturally, the hand cream I would start using consistently would be Hand Food. The pretty pink bottle stands out against all of my other half’s skincare products (I swear he has more than me) so I’m always reminded to use Hand Food on a regular basis. The scent of Hand Food also encourages me to use it as it smells delicious; it’s a little on the strong side but the gorgeous almost floral scent makes me want to cover myself in this cream.

Ok, enough with the superficial part, let’s get into how Hand Food actually works as an actual hand cream! Hand Food is a great hand cream for me in the summer when my skin maintains its moisture and just needs a little pick me up every so often. The winter, however, is a different story. My hands get dry in the colder months and it’s especially noticeable in between each finger. Hand Food doesn’t do a great job at moisturising those areas. It may disguise the dry patches for a few hours but they always return and I’m forever fighting a losing battle with my own hands…maybe they haven’t actually forgiven me for ignoring them for so long!

Soap & Glory Hand Food

Hand Food does dry quickly so at least I’m not left with a greasy feeling and getting Soap & Glory scented fingerprints everywhere whenever I’ve applied it. I’ve also found a little goes a long way which means I’ve been using a 125ml bottle since February this year and I still have plenty left.

I’m not going to back Soap & Glory if they ever make a bid for the title of “world’s greatest hand cream manufacturers” (which would totally rival the Oscars during award season) as Hand Food isn’t without its flaws but I adore it for when the weather is luring me into believing it’s summer. It’s not my Holy Grail hand cream and it’ll be put on the shelf for winter in favour of a heavy-duty hand cream but at least the pretty pink bottle will look good while it sits there.

Confession: Why I'm Not Against Plastic Surgery

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Watercolour Female Body

I was always a funny looking kid. I was dorky and awkward and had a face that was far too round for my skinny body. I was smaller than the majority of kids my age and was always told by the adults around me that one day I would shoot up and be the girl who goes to clubs in impossibly short dresses and be a wild child. I never shot up (I barely got over 5 feet), I don’t go to clubs all that often because the music bothers me (fickle right?), I own short dresses but I constantly worry my butt is on show while wearing them and I was hardly a wild child. Looking back, I guess they were all assuming my more flamboyant ways would remain firmly in my childhood and I would become the same as everyone else but my body and mind had different ideas.

Admittedly, I tried to go against the grain as a kid. Everyone I was friends with was too similar and that just didn’t seem fun to me. They turned up to school discos in jeans and t-shirts and I turned up in pink sequinned dresses knowing fine well I’d get funny looks and bitched about all night. They played with makeup while I learned to skateboard. They worked out dance routines to Busted and I sang along to Linkin Park. We naturally drifted apart once we got to high school but, while I maintained my internal differences to the majority of people, I couldn’t help but notice the external differences. Puberty found me at 10 years old but it forgot to give me the thing that it gave every other girl.

We’d been told about puberty numerous times at school; we heard all about body hair and periods and pregnancy so it wasn’t exactly a scary thing for me to go through. I was fully aware I was growing up and figured I’d finally get rid of the awkwardness and the round face and would have big boobs and a nice butt. I got the nice butt (thank you mum!) but the big boobs never arrived. The boobs just didn’t want to make an appearance and that made me more self-conscious and awkward than ever.

My lack of lady lumps raised a few issues for me. Throughout the whole of high school, I still felt like a little kid because my body looked like a child’s with the added addition of unwanted body hair and a period. Finding clothes was a problem as tops would just bunch up and highlight my lack of boobage. When I did find clothes that showed I had something on my chest people made the assumption that I was stuffing my bra so I would shove those tops to the back of my wardrobe. I took to wearing hoodies all the time so I could hide my body; even in the summer, I was walking around in black hoodies while everyone bared their pale Scottish skin.

Once I hit the age of 18 I thought surely something is going to happen. Surely these breasts are going to finally find me and I’m going to have something to make clothing look better and stop me from feeling so childlike but nope, that never happened. I was hateful of my own body by my late teens and wanted to change a lot of it. The best option for me was plastic surgery and, despite the fact all surgical procedures make me squirm, I spent hours watching videos of breast augmentations, I scoured a Plastic Surgery Directoy Info, I researched people’s experience with their surgery and had numerous favorited websites on the aftercare. I was ready to save up for a boob job and then my breasts appeared. I’m always late to the party.

Don’t get too excited for me, they’re still small in comparison to the size I wanted but they’re perfectly in proportion to my body and I’m eager to keep them in their current state for as long as possible. That means I haven’t ruled out the idea of a breast augmentation, it just means I’ve put it on the back burner for a while. I don’t need a boob job right now because anything bigger than what I have would look ridiculous but, as gravity and age take over, my breasts will get closer to the ground and I have no issues with fighting age with surgery. I’m really not against having a bit of Botox and the occasional facelift to keep age at bay. Growing old gracefully is a beautiful thing but I love the fact that I can make fine lines disappear and stop my boobs from swinging across the floor if I really want to. It took 10 years for my lady lumps to appear so I want to keep them in their current perky state for as long as I possibly can.

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with plasticsurgeryinfo.ca.

Lush Oatifix Review

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

If you haven’t eaten a whole “sharing” bag of Doritos while watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey you’re a liar.

I’m usually ok when it comes to my diet but sometimes I just want to bathe in Irn Bru and have an unlimited supply of crisps next to me. It’s incredibly obvious when I’ve gone on a junk food binge as my skin makes me look even more zombie like than usual and I’m probably trying to hide the moon craters that have erupted all over my face. Usually, my skin will go back to normal after a week of drinking nothing but water and force feeding myself carrots but a week is too long for my impatient self. I want quick fixes to all of my problems and my quick fix skin care starts and ends with Lush.

Lush Oatifix fresh face mask

Thanks to Lush’s bring back 5 empty pots for a free face mask deal and my Lush addiction, I’m doing pretty well in having a steady supply of fresh face masks to work with. I usually opt for Cosmetic Warrior but, as I had been on a junk food binge in the days leading up to visiting Lush, I wanted something that was going to help my dried out, icky skin. I went for Oatifix on the recommendation of a Lush employee who always seem to be the nicest people both in personality and smell wise.

Oatifix is made from bananas, illipe butter, oatmeal, ground almonds and a whole bunch of scientific sounding things to help moisturize dry skin. It smells like a hearty breakfast cereal and is just as thick and lumpy. My other half and I had a hell of a time trying to get Oatifix onto our faces as it doesn’t stick to skin as well as other Lush face masks.

Once you’ve battled with the application of Oatifix and you have a nice, thick face mask all you have to do is wait around for 10 minutes before washing the oat lumps off. Washing Oatifix off is just as difficult as applying it so I really wish I had used this face mask right before showering; that would’ve been too sensible for me though!

Lush Oatifix fresh face mask

I was adamant Oatifix was going to leave my skin looking and feeling greasier than a chip pan after I’d washed it off but I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. Oatifix had actually managed to get my skin back to normal after just one use and it had evened out my other half’s skin tone (he suffers from acne scarring and a little redness). Admittedly, my other half did resemble a wax figure but that look had disappeared by the following morning. Every other use of Oatifix gave us the same results which meant I didn’t have to consume an obscene amount of carrots! My other half did accidentally fall asleep with it on but, despite having oat goo on his face for 2 hours, it didn’t have any negative effect on his skin whatsoever.

My only wish for Oatifix is that it didn’t expire so quickly. The face masks in Lush are amazing but only getting around 3 weeks of use from them before they go out of date isn’t fun. More often or not, I never finish the small tubs and I’ve seen one too many moldy Lush products to risk using them beyond their expiration date. Despite the limited timeframe to use Oatifix in, I’d still happily pick this face mask up every time I’ve got tubs to return and skin to fix.

Benefit Cheeky Stowaways Beauty Kit

Friday, 1 September 2017

Do you know what really annoys me about airports? People; airports would be much more enjoyable if it wasn’t for other people. It’s not that I don’t want to share an airport with you (it totally is but let’s pretend I’m nice) it’s just I can’t handle people getting in my way at 4 am when I’m dragging an overweight suitcase and my tired butt around. I actively avoid moving anywhere in an airport until my gate is called as I know I’ll end up throwing my passport or a shoe at someone. The benefit of my aggressive airport tendencies means I rarely spend any unnecessary money as the idea of fighting my way through duty-free is not even remotely appealing. That being said, Prague airport is so unbelievably efficient that I ended up in duty-free without anyone but my other half so they won, I bought something. How dare they run an airport correctly and ruin my foul mood!

Benefit Cheeky Stowaways Beauty Kit

In my weak defence, I did want some new makeup products especially blusher and bronzer as I’ve been using nothing but MAC Dollymix and Benefit Dandelion for years now. I had plans on buying individual products as opposed to a palette as I always feel like large palettes are anything but travel-friendly (which goes against the travel set that this is supposed to be). I couldn’t walk away from the Cheeky Stowaways beauty kit regardless of how much of a pain it is to travel with though so it instantly became mine.

The Cheeky Stowaways beauty kit consists of Benefit’s infamous Hoola, Coralista, my beloved Dandelion and Rockateur. It also contains a small tube of They’re Real mascara and They’re Real push-up liner. There’s a small blush brush as well which will never be used.

Benefit Cheeky Stowaways Beauty Kit

I’m really taken by the variety of the shades in the Cheeky Stowaways and I’m amazed by the fact they’re all light enough for my skin tone. I’ve stayed away from Hoola for a long time as I was certain it would be far too dark for my ghostly complexion but it’s such a beautiful, light shade that it almost makes my horrendous contour skills look good. Coralista is another shade I would typically stay away from as I feel like coral is a total hit and miss. I don’t think Coralista looks amazing on me, it is too peachy for my skin tone but, with the right look, I can just about get away with it.

Dandelion is probably my all time favourite blusher as it’s the perfect light pink. It works well with my pale complexion and provides me with just the right amount of colour with minimum effort. Rockateur on the other hand looks too dark in the palette for me but it’s currently in a fight with Dandelion for the title of my favourite blusher. I absolutely love wearing Rockateur when I’m going for a subtle “hey look at my face” kind of deal as it provides a pretty pink flush to my cheeks without making it look like I’ve just been slapped.

Benefit Cheeky Stowaways Beauty Kit

Aside from the non-travel friendly size, I love everything about this beauty kit. I may not use the mascara and eyeliner very often but I love having them there in case I feel like having a raccoon eye look (I can’t use eyeliner and mascara to save my life) and the variety of shades of blusher means I’ve got shades for almost every mood. All I need now is a bright red for when I feel like looking like a clown. I wonder if I can get one in duty-free...

Book Haul

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Hi, I'm Mel and I sniff books.

Well, now that I've got that confession off my chest we can do this thing properly. My reading mojo has well and truly departed but that isn't stopping me from eyeing up my "to be read" pile and thinking it should be bigger. I meant to buy just one book but then more kept creeping into my hands and they all smelt so good. Have you ever tried telling a book you're not going to buy it? It's hard! My bank account hates me.

Books to read

Where was I? Ah yes...sniffing books. The one book I actually truly intended on buying/sniffing was Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. I have wanted to read this for months but couldn't find it in any bookstore so I waited and waited until my local Waterstones finally put the damn book right at the front of the store. There is a strong chance I was looking in the wrong place and all the bookstores I visited actually had it. I zone out a lot.

The Underground Railroad is about exactly what the title suggests and it was reviewed by Obama so you know it’s going to be good. I’m slowly but surely making my way through it and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds.

Books to read

Thanks to The Underground Railroad having the "buy one get one-half price" sticker on it, I ended up with Irvine Welsh's newest book The Blade Artist. I had read about The Blade Artist a few months ago and the concept just did not appeal. A story about Trainspotting's psychopath that is Frank Begbie moving to America didn't sound all that great until I listened to an interview with Irvine Welsh himself. I've skimmed through The Blade Artist and it seems to be written in English unless Begbie is speaking so maybe I'll actually understand it a lot more than Trainspotting.

Following up on psychopaths, Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith was picked up as the cover intrigued my other half and I. You can't have a book haul without a detective story and Child 44 tells the tale of an investigation into a number of child murders in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. Why do we refrain from reading nice books?

I asked why we don't read nice books and then I hit you with a book on Cristiano Ronaldo. I feel like I should be ashamed to admit Cristiano Ronaldo is on my freebie list and is probably my most searched for subject on Pinterest but I'm not. Guillem Balague's book on Ronaldo was bought for me as a joke but I've skimmed through a bit of it and it actually seems like an interesting, albeit very easy, read. It has pictures too not that I'm looking at them or anything...

Books to read

A few months ago, Han Kang's Human Acts made my other half walk around for a few hours in a daze so, when we noticed The Vegetarian hiding on a shelf, we added it to the pile. My other half has since finished The Vegetarian and has confirmed it is in fact about a vegetarian. Who would've guessed!

Is there really a bit in Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis where he talks about how his dad showed him how to grow a fingernail to be used as a cocaine spoon because what? Scar Tissue ended up being purchased despite the fact we're not Red Hot Chili Peppers fans because it just seems like a crazy read and I’m down with that.

Books to read

The Power by Naomi Alderman was actually recommended to me by the sales assistant in Waterstones. We were having an in depth discussion about books when she mentioned she had read and loved The Power but didn’t have anyone to talk about it with yet. The Power is a Malorie Blackman Noughts and Crosses sort of deal but rather than reverse skin colour privilege, it’s reverse gender privilege so the women have the power. I’m curious to know how this story is going to play out as, from what I’ve read online, it seems rather hardcore at times.

I really wish I had read more of these books by now but I'm still sitting pretty on page 46 of The Underground Railroad. I've been too distracted by drawing recently to dedicate time to reading and when I do pick up a book, I get distracted by crisps. If I haven't made a dent in this haul by the end of September, I won't buy any more books...we all know this is a lie right? Don't hold me to a lie.

Books of July

Friday, 18 August 2017

I don’t know how it happened but I’ve fallen off the reading trolley. My reading challenge completely fell apart in June and the drought continued into July. I’m struggling to kick my reading horsey into gear and I’m adamant a certain young adult book that shall remain nameless completely threw me off! Maybe it will come back soon but until then 3 books a month is my total.

Books to read

I’ll be honest with you, I actually finished the first book in June but I couldn’t not (the English language is stupid) include it in this post as I loved it so much. *The Blind Side by Michael Lewis is the book that inspired the incredible Sandra Bullock film ‘The Blind Side’ (which you need to watch if you haven’t already) and is so incredibly fascinating for an American football fanatic like me.

The Blind Side predominately focuses on Michael Oher’s story and how he became the player he is today but there is also a nice bit of NFL history intertwined with his life. I practically lapped this book up and conveniently, Sky Sports were showing one of the games from the Joe Montana era that The Blind Side covers while I was reading it. If you have any interest in NFL or even the NCAA (Michael Oher’s NFL career isn’t covered in The Blind Side) then you need to read this book!

I followed The Blind Side up with *Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. I only saw the film adaption of Trainspotting at the beginning of this year and was eager to read the book once I’d seen T2. Despite being Scottish, I have a hard time understanding Scottish slang so reading Trainspotting took me far longer than I would have liked. It’s mostly written in Scottish slang so I stumbled over a few words (particularly when Begbie was speaking) and I applaud any non-Scot who has managed to read and understand Trainspotting without any issues.

The Blind Side. Trainspotting. Nineteen Minutes.

Admittedly, I didn’t enjoy Trainspotting as much as I thought I would. It’s a great book that explores the never-ending cycle of a junkie but I felt like nothing really happened. I think watching the film first desensitized me to a few scenes in the book so I wasn’t really taken aback by any of it. I’m also tempted into blaming Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries for my lack of “shock” at Trainspotting as nothing can ever be more disgusting than what he does in a bathroom.

The last book of July is *Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes. I had wanted another Jodi Picoult book for a while and found Nineteen Minutes in a charity shop for 99p so obviously I had to buy it. Nineteen Minutes made me so incredibly sad and I still don’t think I’m over it yet. It focuses on 2 characters who were once great friends as children until an incident caused them to drift apart. The female character became popular while the male character was bullied throughout his childhood and into his teens. As a result of the bullying, he decides to shoot up his school and Nineteen Minutes explores why someone would want to respond to bullying in the most violent way possible.

The Blind Side. Trainspotting. Nineteen Minutes.

I didn’t pick up on it at the time but thinking back over Nineteen Minutes, I realise how many obvious clichés are tied to the story. The clichés haven’t removed my overall feelings towards the plot but I’d be lying if I said certain ones didn’t annoy me (in particular the guy being a fan of heavy metal which always seems to be the thing the media blames for school massacres). There is also a glaringly obvious hint as to how the story will end which again, I didn’t pick up on. I was so eager to find out what happens next that I didn’t fully analyse the book like I usually would. Jodi Picoult is such a compelling storyteller to the point where my pedantic and analytic ways can’t compete.

I think for the first time in months I’ve managed to avoid reading any duds. Trainspotting may not have been what I thought it would be but I’m happy I finally found out what all the fuss was about (and I now have Irvine Welsh’s new book The Blade Artist to read) and could maybe read it again one day. The Blind Side and Nineteen Minutes are my favourite books of July and I’m tempted into reading The Blind Side again just to ensure all those football facts are firmly embedded in my brain. I’m never going to hit this reading target!

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link. 

Prague: A Photo Diary

Thursday, 10 August 2017

If your partner is anything like mine, you’ll know that buying presents for them is about as much fun as pulling out your nose hair. When Christmas rolled around last year I had no idea what to get my fiancé. When I asked him if he wanted anything he had no suggestions and I was left scrolling through the most random websites in hopes inspiration would strike. Fortunately, an idea hit me while I was daydreaming about where we should go on our honeymoon (we haven’t even started planning our wedding but I’m already planning the aftermath) and thus a holiday to Prague was booked. I’m getting really good at giving my fiancé presents that involve both of us.

Prague

Our holiday was for a week and I will be the first to admit that a week in Prague is too long; even the receptionist at our hotel commented on the length of our stay. We had read a lot of guides on things to do in Prague and had pretty much done everything by day 3. We’re used to holidays where you rent a car and drive up and down the country so a city break is foreign territory (pun not intended) for us and I think we overdid it.

Jan Hus Memorial Prague
The Jan Hus Memorial in the Old Town Square.

We did the obvious touristy things first. Our flight got us in for 10 am on Friday so we immediately went to the Old Town Square for some people watching and food. There is a strong possibility I was drunk by 12 pm but that just made the one and only torrential downpour that occurred during our stay a lot more tolerable.

Prague park
I have no idea why there are shoes hanging over the park we drunkenly stumbled into but there you go.

After we'd watched enough people, my drunken self was dragged out of the square towards the bridges and we somehow found ourselves wandering up a disgusting amount of steps towards a park. I can’t for the life of me remember if this park had a name but I can tell you it features a lovely portaloo that is dirtier than the toilet in Trainspotting.

Prague castle
The only way you can get a picture of Prague castle without tourists is to point your camera up.

Our Saturday was spent exploring Prague Castle (more stairs!) which gave me the most overwhelming urge to watch Lord of the Rings. It’s the largest castle in the world and you can easily spend half a day there. We refrained from buying tickets for the exhibitions so we wandered around the outside of the castle and also around the gardens. Thanks to our lack of knowledge we had no idea what each building was for so a tour guide would’ve been beneficial but, as organised tours stress me out, we muddled our way through the history instead.

Zizkov TV Tower Prague
Seriously why?

Sunday was my other half’s birthday and it was spent at the Zizkov TV tower and playing mini golf. We were staying quite far out of the centre of Prague so the tower was only a 5-minute walk from our hotel. The tower is a prominent building in the Prague skyline and it looks completely out of place. It also has 6-foot babies crawling up and down it which is just as random as it sounds. We spent an hour at the tower and then the rest of our time was spent in the restaurant below and on the mini golf course. I got my ass handed to me by my other half during our game and I have officially lost my self-given mini golf champion title.

Top Gun Prague
Look at my other half acting like he's a badass!

The following day was spent doing something I never thought I would. I had found a couple of shooting ranges during my research into Prague and we decided to book a slot at Top Gun. We went for the Full Monty package so we were shooting with a Glock 17 pistol, a Magnum Revolver, a shotgun, an M16 rifle, a 9mm Uzi, an AK47 and a Dragunov sniper. I was dreadful with the pistol and didn’t hit my target once but somehow I was perfect with the shotgun despite the fact it practically sent me flying. My other half still beat me in the end but I’m adamant I looked cooler with the guns (just ignore the fact I couldn’t hold most of the guns for more than a few minutes without my arms getting tired).

Prague zoo polar bear
The polar bear reminded me of my dog because apparently I think polar bears and black Labradors are similar...

The hottest day of our holiday seemed to occur the day we had decided to go to the zoo. I am too Scottish to be wandering up and down hills in 39 degrees and probably looked like a minging sweaty mess all day. The zoo was surprisingly quiet (considering it’s the 4th best in the world I was expecting it to be full of people) so at least very few humans saw me completely drenched in my own sweat.

Prague zoo flamingos

Usually, I get quite upset at zoos because the majority of animals look really sad and bored but they all seemed quite pleased with themselves at Prague zoo. The orangutans were having a fight with their blankets and a hedge, the elephants were enjoying a nice swim, the otters were playing with each other and the penguins were enjoying waddling around in the only way penguins can. The only things that didn’t look pleased were the snakes and that’s probably because they could sense my fear. Needless to say, I never want to walk into a dark room and see an anaconda staring at me from a tank ever again.

Prague zoo birds

Thursday was technically our final full day in Prague but somebody (not me for a change) got too drunk at a cocktail bar 2 doors down from our hotel on Wednesday and spent the whole day in bed with a hangover. I did tell him ordering 10 beers was a bad idea but at 99p per beer, he couldn’t resist. It did give me a good opportunity to sample a lot of cocktails that I’d been meaning to try for a long time. Apparently, pina coladas are my new favourite drink.

Other than New York, I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a city before but Prague has totally captured my heart (prepare for a sloshy power ballad moment). It’s such a beautiful city – just ignore the crap graffiti that the buildings are covered in - and it’s a place I'd totally live in. I would happily go back just for the food alone and now I’m doing everything I can to stop myself from booking another holiday there just so I can have more spinach, bean and walnut burgers!

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil Review

Monday, 24 July 2017

I’d be lying if I said the idea of using an oil to remove my makeup doesn’t make me recoil in horror. All I can think when it comes to oil is clogged pores, major spots and greasy looking skin. Even eating food that’s a little too oily immediately puts the idea of clogged pores into my mind so how could an oil based makeup remover and I ever get on?

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil

The Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil ended up in my possession - despite the mental images of little monsters living on my skin - all because it was new and had £3 off its full price; yes people, I really am that easy. I usually like Simple products and have gone back to them again and again so I wasn’t as nervous about trying the Simple cleansing oil as I would have been if it was a different brand.

Simple promise their Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil will dissolve your makeup and leave your skin feeling and looking hydrated. The oil contains vitamins A and E as well as grapeseed oil which all help fight the ageing process. Grapeseed oil also doesn’t clog pores so there’s some reassurance for the worrier that I am. To use the cleansing oil, you just apply a few drops to clean, dry hands and then apply gently to your face before washing off with water. It’s an extremely quick and straightforward process.

My first use of the Simple cleansing oil didn’t leave me all that excited. It smeared my eye makeup all over my face but didn’t really dissolve it and my foundation was still visible. I immediately used a micellar water to get rid of the remaining makeup and vowed to try the cleansing oil again. My second use (and every use since) was a lot more successful.

Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil

My impatience had gotten the better of me during the first time and, as a result, I hadn’t massaged the oil in properly. The first initial 30 seconds of the oil being on your skin smears your makeup worse than a drunken night out will but so long as you continue to gently rub your oily hands over your skin, your makeup will dissolve and your skin will be product free. Your skin will be extremely shiny and greasy looking afterwards but splashing a bit of warm water onto your unsuspecting face will quickly resolve that.

I can’t fault this cleansing oil when it comes to removing my makeup but I do find it doesn’t leave my skin feeling hydrated like Simple claim it will. I always use a moisturiser after washing the Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil off as it tends to leave my skin feeling a little tight. I can live with Simple not quite delivering on one promise though since the product doesn’t seem to be clogging my pores nor is it making my skin any oilier than usual.

The Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil is on the pricier side when it comes to Simple products in general (£8 in Tesco but £6 in Superdrug) however, the bottle is 125ml and you only require 4-5 drops to remove your makeup so it should last for a long time. It’s very travel-friendly and eliminates the need for a bulky micellar water bottle and cotton pads. The only real downside to this product l is Simple is owned by Unilever who are a little shady when it comes to answering the “do you test on animals” question. If it wasn’t for the fact I’m now making the conscious effort to go cruelty-free, the Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil would immediately be added to my repeat purchase list.

The Ideal Beach Body

Friday, 14 July 2017


They say the best way to get a beach body is to take your body to the beach but what if you do have a beach body goal? Are you an asshole for thinking you need to look a certain way before stripping down to your swimsuit or is wanting to feel confident before showing some skin perfectly acceptable?

I’ve always had an image of the perfect beach body for myself. I want a toned stomach, toned legs and toned arms and I’ve worked on and off over the last year to achieve such a thing. The last time I was seen naked in public (woohoo for public changing rooms, not!) was November last year and I wasn’t overly happy with some of my limbs. The muscles in my legs had diminished due to not being able to run for 2 months and my stomach wasn’t the way I wanted it to be either. I didn’t feel bad about my body but I wasn’t 100% happy with the way it looked.

It’s taken me a long time to finally start accepting my body for what it is. I started puberty at the delightful age of 10 years old and, while I had the pleasure of growing body hair in places I rather it didn’t, my breasts forgot to make an appearance until my late teens. Sure they were there but I was all too aware of how small they were. Fortunately, I’ve always had, if I say so myself, a nice peachy bum and that always seemed to be the thing the guys I’ve been interested in have gone for. As much as I hate tying my own self-worth to men, it’s nice to know a part of your body you love is also admired by the males you’re dating.

I think it was really obvious that I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin as a teenager. While everyone else walked around in shorts and t-shirts during the Scottish summer, I sweated it out in skinny jeans and a hoody. It didn’t matter how hot I got, I would not show any more skin than needed. Even family holidays would have me covering up as much as possible. We rented villas with a private pool and I would always wear a top over my bikini under the false pretence that I was trying to avoid getting my shoulders sunburnt. I wouldn’t even sunbathe, I’d float around in the pool or I’d sit inside and read a book just to avoid being seen in a swimsuit.

Looking back, I really don’t know what I was bothered about. I never heard anything bad about my body (if anyone did say anything it definitely wasn’t to my face) and only ever received compliments from the guys who were allowed to see me without clothing. Thinking about all of those missed opportunities to wear shorts and all of the sweat I lost to skinny jeans in 23-degree heat makes me laugh. I can’t understand why I was so bothered by my body as a teenager but I understand why I have little niggles now; the self-conscious nature I had back then is still ever so slightly embedded in my brain.

I’m now fairly happy with my body but things could always be better. I don’t want to see the little jiggle my thighs do when I’m wearing shorts so I’m going to tone them up, I want my arms to have a bit of definition so I’m sorting that out, I want my stomach to remain flat at all times so I’m targeting that area. I’m not going to go full throttle, I don’t want to have a six pack or huge muscles but I just want to be able to walk around in a bikini and not feel like hiding in the water.

So yes people of the internet, I do have an ideal beach body and that is absolutely fine. You may be able to put your swimsuit on and prance around on the beach without a care in the world but I don’t have that luxury yet. I’ve got to work to get to that stage and I’m slowly but surely getting there.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash Review

Monday, 10 July 2017

Garnier really knows how to get all of my money. If they bring out a variation of their micellar water I will come running with money in hand; it’s a vicious cycle but it’s one I can’t seem to break away from. It probably doesn’t come as a shock when I tell you that I bought the new Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash as soon as I saw it. What can I say? I’m weak when it comes to anything with “micellar” in the name.

The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash is Garnier’s rinse-off gel wash answer to my beloved Garnier Micellar Water. It uses micellar technology to remove makeup, dirt and pollution from our skin and is gentle enough to use on the eyes and lips. Not only does Garnier promise this will remove makeup but it will also cleanse and mattify the skin.I picked up the version intended for those with combination and sensitive skin but, based on the Garnier website, I think this is more of a gimmick as they openly state the original cleansing gel wash is gentle enough for all skin types.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash

I was expecting the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash to be on par with the Garnier Micellar Water but it’s not even close. If I ever force myself into throwing away skincare products this will be the first to go as it’s honestly dreadful. It does remove some of my makeup but I still have to use the L’Oreal Micellar Water to get the main bulk of it off. The idea of using a foaming wash on my eyelids makes me recoil in horror but I did it in the name of this review (nothing but dedication around here) and I’ve never tugged at my eyes so much in my life. The cleansing gel wash does remove my eye makeup but it takes several attempts and a lot of unnecessary pressure. It also leaves my eyes stinging like crazy even if I make sure to not go anywhere near them when using the wash.

As for the other 2 promises well, I have serious doubts as to whether the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash actually cleanses my skin and I’m starting to wonder if mattifying the skin actually means leaving it as dry as a desert. My skin usually leans more towards the oilier side of things in the summer but, thanks to this cleansing gel wash, it’s been dry and uncomfortably tight.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash

One of the nice things about the Garnier Micellar Water is it doesn’t have a scent but the cleansing gel wash doesn’t have that luxury. This wash smells incredibly medicinal; it’s not overpowering and the smell is gone once I’ve washed the product off my skin but it’s enough to remind me of the hand wash you’re supposed to use whenever you walk into a hospital. I don’t know about you but I’d rather not think of hospitals when I’m doing something as frivolous as removing my makeup.

I think it’s safe to say I strongly dislike the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash. It’s not the worst product in the world but, when you compare it to other micellar products on the market, it doesn’t match up. I’d love to be able to use this as a regular cleanser so it doesn’t go to waste but I don’t fancy drying out my skin every night. I expected this to become my new Holy Grail makeup remover but instead, it will lie in a drawer until I finally bother to get rid of it.

Opinions Are Like Assholes...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Oil lamp and books
This picture has no relevance to anything, I just liked the oil lamp.

Opinions are great; they can break down barriers between strangers and help you make a friend for life, they can piss off everyone around you and they’re one of the few things that divide us every single day. An opinion is not a fact but the sad reality of it is some people believe their thoughts cannot be wrong and daring to oppose them will result in getting your head bit off.

I’m an overly opinionated person by nature and I’m fully aware of how offensive my opinions can be to others. I do my best to ensure the thoughts I project onto the unsuspecting people of the world are based on facts or personal experience; I have learnt over time to never express a misinformed opinion and I’m usually mortified when I do jump the gun. I fully expect to be challenged on my opinions and hope that whoever is challenging me is capable of having an adult conversation about why we believe different things. The best conversations I’ve ever had have been with people who have expressed their opposing ideas in a coherent, calm manner without any hint of confrontation or malicious intent.

Navigating a face to face conversation is usually simpler than having a heated debate over the internet. It’s much easier to pick up on social cues when the person is standing right in front of you than it is when you’re arguing with someone via social media. One of the benefits of debate on the internet is the person/people I’m engaging with can’t see the multiple eye rolls I do but the downside is the conversation can be relentless; falling asleep doesn’t mean the conversation is over, it just means you’ve taken an 8 hour break and will probably wake up to a new wave of responses the following morning.

The biggest issue I’ve been having with the internet, particularly during the lead-up to the general election, is how narrow-minded people can be when expressing their thoughts. I’ve always been around people who can’t accept other ideas but I’m finding myself surrounded by these people more and more and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a presence on the internet without calling a good chunk of people idiots (which I guess I’m effectively doing in this post, whoops).

Let’s go back to the aforementioned UK general election for a second. The general election was a tough subject to navigate on social media; if you dared correct the false or overly exaggerated information that was being shared in a bid to make a certain party look bad you were automatically branded enemy number one and were argued with until the cows came home (even if you made it clear you had no intention of voting for said party). If you suggested people should vote for who they felt is the correct party or refrained from stating who you voted for, you were stereotyped and ridiculed and your only crimes were believing in democracy and the right to making your own decision. A right to an opinion fell apart during the week of the general election and if you weren’t sucking at Labour’s teat, you may as well have sat in a cave for a while.

I’m not oblivious to the fact some subjects, especially politics, can wake the beast and will turn even the nicest of people into a nasty piece of work if you don’t share their thought process but I like to promote independent thinking. I’d rather give people the right to make their own decisions and if they need a bit of help, I’m all for informing them and helping them along their way. Someone disagreeing with an opinion is not an excuse to insult or belittle them, it’s merely a reminder that we all think differently and are fortunate enough to live in a society where we have the freedom to do so.

There have been points where I’ve realised a discussion regarding a difference in opinion is futile. I could present every argument I have in my repertoire but it’s meaningless if the person/people I’m debating with are aggressively pushing their agenda onto me. I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with people who seem to believe because I think one thing that my opinions on other – usually irrelevant – things must be a certain way when in reality, that’s not the case. I can think one way about something that may be offensive to a person while maintaining an entirely different opinion on something else that may be in agreement with said person.

The world is probably rather fortunate that I have yet to become a dictator, therefore, have not enforced my opinions as laws (I hope you all like cheese sandwiches as I believe everyone should have them for breakfast) as it means no one suffers or excels under my warped mind. I think history has taught us that some ideas can be detrimental to others but, in a weird way, I still want to sit down with people whose opinions I deem extreme (and may border more on ignorant than just an extreme opinion) and try to understand their thought process.

I’m open to conversations and I welcome people who think differently as they may be able to change my mind but you can keep the arguments, insults and downright childish behaviour that some people turn to when faced with an opposing view. In the almighty words of Salt n Pepa “opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.”

Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash Review

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Once upon a time, I had a skincare routine that was carried out with military precision. I’d cleanse, exfoliate, tone and moisturise my face constantly but then laziness found me and removing my makeup was the most I would do. I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with relatively clear skin so I don’t really need a hardcore skincare routine but I still like to have something in place to make me feel like I’m doing something good. I still moisturise religiously but now I merely wash my face every morning to remove traces of sleep and any makeup I may have missed the night before.

Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash

The Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash (this name is far too long!) has been my go-to product for my lazy ways. I’ve been using it for the last few months and, despite not being overly happy with the last Soap & Glory facial product I tried, I’ve been really impressed with this facial wash. I apply a small blob to my face every morning and have barely made a dent in the 350ml bottle; a little goes such a long way.

Soap & Glory claim this is wash is a “high-tech, foaming facial wash formulated with complexion-friendly non-drying easy-rinse surfactants that will do a bang-up job at washing your face”. It’s supposed to smooth, clean and purify your skin and for the most part, the product delivers on the claims. The small beads (which aren’t microbeads) in the product do a good job at gently exfoliating my skin without being too abrasive and the actual foaming wash wipes away all the dirt and leftover makeup build up. My skin always looks so much brighter and clearer once I’ve used this facial wash which makes the perfect base for my crap makeup application!

Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash

The wash smells really clean and fresh so it’s perfect pick me up in the morning (who needs coffee when you can slather foaming facial wash on yourself?). It’s also not drying which is an added bonus considering I have a tendency to never wash cleansers and facial washes off properly. Soap & Glory say this is a product for all skin types but I don’t think it’s going to be strong enough for the patches of dry skin that always appear on my face when the colder weather comes in.

I probably wouldn’t have ever tried *deep breath* the Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash if it wasn’t in the Soap & Glory ‘The Whole Glam Lot box so I’m so happy Soap & Glory included it. This product is going to last me for months despite using it every day and I’m more than happy to have some rather amazing looking skin each morning. Unless a cheaper alternative comes along that is just as good, the Soap & Glory Face Soap and Clarity 3-in-1-Daily-Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash will forever remain on my repurchase list.

Books of April

Monday, 15 May 2017

Books to read

April was a shaky month for my reading challenge. I started with a book that seemed interesting on the surface but was really a jumbled mess and I ended with a book I never want to read again. It was an unfortunate month choice wise so I only managed to get through 3 books. Annoyingly, I was actually on target for 5 books in April but that third book made me lose all momentum.

Enough of the self-pity, let’s start with book number one. Eating the Elephant by Alice Wells* intrigued me as it’s written by the wife of a paedophile who killed himself the same day their house was searched for child pornography. It seemed like such an interesting albeit tragic book but, while I did enjoy it to an extent, I found Eating the Elephant to be like reading someone’s diary after it had been torn apart. The “climax” of the story happens right at the beginning and the rest of the book is a messy timeline that didn’t make much sense to me. Eating the Elephant could have been so much more but unfortunately, it falls short.

Books to read

It was my future mother-in-law that recommended the second book of the month. She mentioned her mother-in-law had read this book countless times and had passed it over to her to read. She actually wanted to pass it over to me but had recently given it to a local charity shop and the shop had already sold it by the time I went to visit. Regardless, I got hold of the book and positively devoured it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini* follows the story of a girl born out of wedlock in Afghanistan. Her life is met with tragedy but after forming an alliance with a local teenage girl she once resented, she finds strength in herself to do the unthinkable and ultimately, become the true heroine of the story. I actually felt a little sad while reading this book because of how much hardship surrounds this one character but at the same time, I remained hopeful and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strongly towards a story before. A Thousand Splendid Suns is such a compelling read I really wish I could go back and read it again for the first time!

Books to read

Finally, we have the dreaded third book; the book that destroyed my reading mojo. I don’t know why I read it, I know fine well I detest young adults books and have done before I even hit the “young adult” age. I’ve always found YA books too easy to read regardless of what subject matter they’re covering. They’re not my cup of tea but for some reason, I picked up The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne* and I still regret it.

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting features every cliché to exist in YA. It features high school age characters, the protagonist is a loser who suddenly becomes popular, there’s a boy everyone fancies who of course is interested in the former loser girl, the characters are rich and the mean girls get their comeuppance in the end. This isn’t the Manifesto on How to be Interesting; this is the Manifesto on how to Write a YA Book.

With the exception of A Thousand Splendid Suns, I’m extremely disappointed with April’s reading choices. The YA book was a lapse in judgement but I really hoped Eating the Elephant would be extremely thought-provoking. I guess you can’t win them all but I least I’ve learnt a good lesson for May’s reading; don’t read books you don’t like!

Disclaimer: Anything marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link. 

Fun Ways to Exercise

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Skateboard graffiti

If the Olympic torch hadn’t made its way through my hometown before the 2012 London Olympics, I probably would have never bothered going for a run. I felt inspired by the man running down the street proudly holding the torch and decided to finally put my running app to use. I got 6 minutes into the run, sustained a shoulder injury and went home to nap. My running career was extremely sporadic until last year when I finally completed the aforementioned app (I’m embarrassed by the fact it took me 4 years to complete a 9-week program) and continued to rack up the miles. While I love seeing my average pace per mile get quicker and my distance get longer, I absolutely detest running. It’s hard and it’s sweaty and it leaves me with a bright red face. There are significantly more enjoyable ways to exercise and also meet new people while you’re at it.

Back in the day, I was obsessed with skateboarding. I couldn’t do anything cool on my skateboard but, while everyone else sat on theirs and rolled down a hill, I would show off my amazing “standing up on a skateboard” skills. I was a little gutted when the skateboarding/BMXing/scooter trend died out so when I saw micro scooters had recently made a comeback, I was rather hyped to see them. I never realised as a kid how much skateboarding was actually keeping me fit but it was building up my fitness level and giving me some serious leg muscles.

I still have a strong love for skateboarding/BMXing/scooters and would urge anyone of an age where it’s acceptable to hang out at a skate park to try it out. Of course, these aren’t the type of sports you can do without the equipment (you could try but you won’t get very far) so head over to Skate Hut for everything you need. Even if you don’t fancy taking up the more extreme sports, buy yourself a pair of skate shoes as they are seriously the comfiest shoes around.

If trying to be the next Tony Hawk or Dave Mirra isn’t your thing, try out some team sports. I’m a sucker for American sports so if you invite me to play baseball, basketball or American football, I will show up and will more than likely take it far too seriously. You don’t need to be as ridiculous as me though; just gather a bunch of friends, decide on a sport and find an open patch of grass to play it on. If you do invite me though, can we play American football and can I be the running back?

If team sports are appealing but your friends aren’t up for it, start scouting for local team activities. There’s been a recent rise in 5-a-side tag rugby and the majority of participants are there to have fun so the rules are relaxed. 5-a-side football is also another great way to get your muscles going and I promise you it’s significantly more fun to play football than it is to watch.

Despite the fact I hate running, I am going to throw a running related thing into this. I’m part of a few running groups on Facebook (if you want to feel bad about yourself, join one and cry over the man running 20 miles at an average pace of 7 minutes per mile) and the vast majority of people in them join in on a park run every weekend.

A park run is typically 5K (daunting but doable) and is held in your local park either on a Saturday or Sunday morning. There are so many people of various running abilities who go to park runs and have a whale of a time. Some people are trying for personal bests but you’ll find most of them are there just to run in a more social environment. There’s no time pressure and if you want to walk, you’ll have plenty of people alongside you doing the exact same thing.

With the promise of warmer weather, the increase in affordable athletic wear and a variety of exercise groups popping up all over the place, there is no excuse to not get some form of exercise into your week. I do my best to ensure I go for 3 runs a week plus a cycle and maybe even a horrendous 30 minutes worth of core strength training but I get that they’re not for everyone. Exercise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you put yourself into a social situation or find a sport that you really enjoy, you’ll never know that you’re actually working out!

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Skate Hut.

Lush Starter Kit

Monday, 1 May 2017

Before I became a Lush addict, I would always become extremely overwhelmed in Lush. There are so many products for a rookie to choose from that it’s difficult to find the best item for your skin or hair. I was put off Lush thanks to the first product I ever tried being completely wrong for me and it took me a long time to start making my way through the sea of Lush goodness. Now that I’ve pretty much become a self-proclaimed Lush veteran, I’ve got my firm favourite products and I rarely want to stray from them. It’s hard to know where to start during your first Lush experience but my Lush starter kit is all you need (and a bottomless bank account because your money is going to be spent hard).

Best Lush products

I’m going to level with you here, Ocean Salt is arguably Lush’s greatest product but it’s too rough for sensitive skin and it tastes disgusting (I don’t intentionally eat it). That being said, if your skin can handle the abrasiveness I’d tell you to purchase Ocean Salt immediately. It smells fresh, it looks awesome and it leaves your skin looking and feeling incredible. I only use it on my face as opposed to my whole body so a small tub lasts me for a long time but if you plan on exfoliating the hell out of your body, get a big tub and go nuts.

Continuing with the sea salt theme is Big shampoo. Big is my favourite hair product from Lush for 2 reasons: a small amount of product leaves my hair squeaky clean and it smells so good. Like Ocean Salt, it smells fresh and it leaves your hair with a subtle yet delightful scent all day. I’d ignore the small tub of Big and go straight to the big (ha) one because you’re going to want to use this stuff every single day.

Best Lush products

I suppose once you’ve washed your hair you’re going to want something to wash your body with right? Well, Dirty Springwash is your shower gel for such a task. As much as I like trying all of the shower gels Lush has to offer, I can’t stay away from Dirty Springwash. It has a beautiful mint scent that is strong enough to wake you up in the morning but mild enough to not make any parts of you burn (why do so many mint products do this? We’re washing sensitive regions here!). It’s also a rather nice shade of blue so if that’s not a reason in itself to try Dirty Springwash, I don’t know what is.

So you’ve washed your hair and body and you’ve scrubbed your skin silly, now what you need is a good body lotion. Sympathy for the Skin is the body lotion from Lush that you have to try. I’m an eczema sufferer and have tried almost all of the Lush moisturisers for some assistance and Sympathy for the Skin is the one that helps every time. It’s a very light moisturiser which soaks into the skin quickly and it has a beautiful vanilla scent to it. Sympathy for the Skin also lasts an extremely long time as you only need a small amount for your entire body.

Best Lush products

I guess the only other part of your body that needs a product assigned to it is your face. Skin Drink is something I recently came across in Lush and it is quite possibly the best face moisturiser I have ever tried. I used to swear by Celestial but it has a very clinical scent to it so Skin Drink wins this round. It’s a thick moisturiser so it isn’t really suitable before makeup application but it’s a great night-time product. It takes a while to soak into your skin but if you use it before bed, you’ll wake up with a very smooth, very hydrated face. A 45g tub will set you back £14.95 but you only need a small amount for your whole face so a tub will last a long time.

I could honestly go on and on about what products a Lush rookie should try but I think 5 will make a nice dent in your bank balance so I’ll stop gushing over everything (if you fancy a bubble bar though you need to get The Comforter). If you are going to Lush for the first time and become a little overwhelmed, just ask for help; the staff are honestly the friendliest and most knowledgeable people I’ve ever come across in a store before and, as an added bonus, they all use the products too!
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