May & June Favourites

MonthlyFavourites

Hello you lovely lot,

When I created my every-two-months-monthly-favourites, I told myself that it would be a great way to think of the positive things which have happened in the past two months but truth be told, May & June have been heartbreaking. I’m not going into a lot of detail because it’s a personal family matter but it’s one of those things which is happening and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel. Right now, I’m just numb and what makes it even more upsetting is when your so-called friends aren’t there to support you but realising who your true friends are is nice.

SO, enough of that little heart-to-heart and on with the positives.

1. Oliver Turned Two

I swear my nephews will always somehow feature in these posts – but when they’re super cute, it’s hard not to right? Ollie turned 2 at the beginning of May – he had his present for his flight to Orlando a few weeks before but he was quite excited to see that Aunty Emma had bought him everything to do with Thomas The Tank Engine.

2. Ben Said…

Let’s get my nephews out of the way – Ha! Ben is now one and his speech is coming along really well so on the day they got back from Orlando, I said ‘owl’ to Ollie and Ben randomly picked it up and copied. HE SAID MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL. That’s definitely a favourite.

3. Meeting Laura & Katie

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Meeting new bloggers in the North West area was one of my 2015 Blog Resolutions and 6 months later, I’ve met so many more. Katie and I (above) went into Wigan for a day of shopping and let me tell you, she’s hilarious. A week or so later, I met Laura for breakfast at Bills in Liverpool and after all the family stuff, it’s nice to have new friendly faces being supportive no matter how long they’ve known me.

4. Birmingham BBC Flower & Food Show

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What a day this was! It was insanely busy at the Saturday show of the BBC Flower & Food Show but it was really worth the two and a bit hour trip (we got lost)… I’ve never been before so I didn’t really know what to expect and I certainly didn’t expect to see one of the Pulsin team members who I’ve worked with – now, that was lovely. I have, of course, waffled about this in a blog post. I also bought £50 worth of makeup for 10 POUNDS.. Insane.

5. Going Blonder

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OBSESSED. I’m actually in love with my own hair – how sad? I went ombre in September and I’ve been in two minds whether to go blonder or go back to having a bob. Decisions, decisions. For now – I’m blonder and the plan is to completely grow my hair down to my bum, chop it off and give it to children who truly need it more than me. It’ll take a good year or so, but my god, it’ll be worth it.

6. Photography

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Which blogger doesn’t like taking decent pictures, right? Recently, I’ve really loved taking PROPER photographs on a real camera rather than my iPhone. It’s just nice to be able to teach myself and experiment. I’ll keep you posted on whether I do a course or not, but it’s just something I’m really, really, really enjoying.

7. Merf 

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This little fella is 1 in July and he’s been an absolute dream these past few months. He’s learnt to give his paw, to bark when someone knocks on the door, to FINALLY drop the ball as well as coming back to me when he’s off the lead. Border Collie’s are a lot of work but he’s a little babe. So many of you ask me about him and well, I thought I’d update you. He kept up to my room the other Saturday evening and gave me a cuddle without me even asking. I can’t believe how big he’s become.

8. Pretty Little Liars

The bitches are back and so is A aka. Charles aka. who the hell is he? It’s been SUCH a great few episodes of S6 and I just can’t stop waiting for Wednesday to hurry up.

9. “I’m A Blogger.’

Someone at work emailed me and on the bottom of my replies is my Social Media info and my blog link. I wasn’t embarrassed in the slightest when news spread quickly and even a handful of the girls asked me for my URL. So hello, if you’re reading this.

10. Meeting Giovanna Fletcher

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I’ve saved this to last because it’s pretty wonderful. Gi and I have been talking via. Twitter DM’s for well over a year now and she’s absolutely lovely. She came to Liverpool for a book signing and of course, I went along with her books and had a chat with her. You can read ALL about the evening here.

What have you been loving recently?

EL xx

COME ALONG WITH ME: Giovanna Fletcher’s Book Signing

Hello you lovely lot,

So yesterday evening was a pretty exciting event – I met Giovanna Fletcher aka. Author of Billy & Me, You’re The One That I Want and now Dream A Little Dream at the Liverpool One Waterstones. Tickets went like hot cakes and I was really looking forward to meeting her after talking to her since last year on Twitter. She has an absolute heart of gold and what you see is what you get with Gi, it’s why she’s so loved.

*Disclaimer: Neither Giovanna or Penguin have sponsored me for this post. It’s just for fun. I didn’t take an awful lot of pictures, just a few…

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Waterstones in Liverpool One did a beautiful job with the flowers and the display of Giovanna’s new book – I was very lucky in terms of getting a seat on the second row. Giovanna didn’t keep us waiting and everyone was really excited to see her. Caroline very kindly hosted the Q&A and she did a brilliant job.

Giovanna spoke about the new book (obviously), her previous ones, how she treats Tom (her husband) like another reader so he doesn’t have any inside knowledge, her struggle with leaving Buzz (her son) to do some writing. What you may not know about Gi is that she’s unbelievably funny and she had everyone in stitches of laughter.

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The questions from the audience ranged from asking where her inspiration comes from which happens to be everyday life, her relationship with her characters, how she plans a novel and the next week… A cheeky bit of exclusive info is below!

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Gi and I.

It was an absolute pleasure to meet the bubbly author in person and have a little chat with her. She even asked about my blog – seriously sweet. So the big news is: Book #4 is going back to Sophie and Billy… Yup, that’s right. She told us all at the Q&A. Juicy info. Seriously excited.

Just a short one today – sorry! 

EL xx

Review of Afternoon Tea At The Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson

Published: 18th June 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 512

Blurb:

Connie Diamond has always been her husband Jimmy’s best girl or so she thought. But then she discovers that he s been playing away for the past twenty-four years, and that the chocolates she believed he bought her as a sign of his love were just a cover-up, and she is determined to get revenge. Along with Della Frostick, Jimmy’s right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, Connie decides to destroy Jimmy’s life from the inside. Together they will set up a rival business called Lady Muck, and along with the cleaning ladies who meet at the Sunflower Café, they’ll make him wish he had never so much as looked at another woman. Then Connie meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kind chocolate-brown eyes start to melt her soul. Can the ladies of the Sunflower Café help Connie scrub away the hurt? And can Brandon cure her affliction and make her smile again…?

Review:

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for kindly sending me a #TeamMilly review copy.

Connie, Della and Cheryl have had enough of men. From being cheated on to being lied to and stolen from, the final straw that broke the camel’s back has finally snapped. Within ten chapters, it’s all kicked off and I loved it. It was feisty and full of girl power which was brilliant. When Connie and Della team up to work against Connie’s *insert swear word here* husband, that was only the beginning and I couldn’t stop laughing due to how much fun it was going to be to read about a man finally getting what he deserved. Never, ever mess with an angry woman.

“Even Jimmy had said before that Cadbury’s would be out of business if it wasn’t for his wife.”

I really liked how the chapters changed in point of view between Connie, Della and Cheryl. We were allowed to get to know them individually, to learn about their likes and dislikes as well as their own lives. I did expect the Sunflower Cafe to be based at the forefront of the plot, but it wasn’t – the cleaning business and the revenge was. When Brandon Locke, a chocolate maker popped onto the scene – the sparkle in Connie’s eyes returns and despite her vow not to eat any more chocolate, I did have high hopes that Brandon would somehow manage to turn that around.

“Never again would chocolate pass her lips.”

When Milly introduces the Sunflower Cafe, the description is absolutely idyllic and I fell head over heels in love with the quaint little paradise spot. The women of Diamond Shine meet up every now and then at the independent cafe to have a gossip about their employers, talk about cleaning products and eat the heavenly afternoon teas. There were a wide range of mixed characters from Meg the Human Hoover to Hilda the Queen Bee to Astrid the Self Defender – they were all brilliantly placed and I found them to be exceptionally hilarious.

“Then the temperature plunged to Siberian-type numbers in the early hours of Monday morning…”

The plot may be focused on the revenge but there was a lot more to it than that, such as heartbreak, broken families, betrayal, rotten eggs (yup!), death, new friends as well as old, love, romance and fresh beginnings. The narrative flowed perfectly and it swept me off into the life of the three main women who were just an utter joy to read about. They felt real, relatable and that’s exactly what I expect from a Milly Johnson novel. It really was amusing in quite a lot of places but I’m not surprised – Milly writes comedy brilliantly!

“…Jimmy not Ivanka had any idea they were soon to be savaged by a Pitbull.”

It truly was a roller coaster of a narrative – there were many high points which I embraced but several low moments that allowed readers to connect deeper to the characters. The plot ended with so much drama which was the icing on the cake that allowed Connie, Della and Cheryl to receive the ending that they rightly deserved. It was such a warm, comforting narrative that I could happily read time and time again. The only aspect I would change is the title – we didn’t see as much of the Sunflower Cafe as I had hoped.

“People with Tourette’s haven’t used half as many ‘f’ words as I have this past week.”

Twitter: @millyjohnson

Review of Primark Rings

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Hello you lovely lot, 

Recently, I’ve been branching out a little bit into fashion. Don’t expect them on a weekly basis but every now and then won’t be of any harm. When I was in Liverpool in late April with Emma and Sophie for brunch, Emma and I popped into Primark on our way back to the station. I love wearing rings and I feel naked without one on my right hand these days. Dorothy Perkins do a fantasy selection but I fancied some new silver ones so of course, Primark was the place!

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This ring is very, very simple. It’s plain, its simple and there is no design on it. I like that about it and I thought that this may be the one of the pack which I threw away but no, it’s still in my little ring holder which is actually a flower candle holder. I think if you’ve got a detailed outfit on, this would give it the final touch.

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The very first ring I bought was a leaf one and still to this day, it’s my absolute favourite one. There’s no real meaning behind enjoying a leaf ring – it just looks good on my finger and I enjoy wearing it. Simple as.

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I find rings like this super cheesy. Who would want a LOVE ring? Not me, right? WRONG. Well, sort of. I think it is kind of tacky but to my surprise, it looks good. This is definitely a ring I would wear whilst being at a wedding or a family event.

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Out of all the rings, this is probably my favourite. It’s cute, it’s girly and it’s a bow. I’ve seen a lot of these in shops such as Dorothy Perkins, New Look and Forever 21 but they’ve all been in gold and I really wanted it in silver. THE GODS OF JEWELLERY HAVE ANSWERED MY PRAYS.

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Ladies, if he’s not going to put a ring on it then you should. I’ve never really owned a diamond ring and this is far from it but it’s as close as I’ll get to it right now. It’s a bit of bling without the huge price tag.

I’m seriously happy with these five rings and for £1 for all of them, you really can’t go wrong. I hope my fingers don’t go green! Have you any Primark jewellery? 

EL xx

Review of I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Published: 6th November 2014
Publisher:
Little Brown
Pages: 384

Blurb: 

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating…

Review:

Thank you to Little Brown for kindly sending me a copy (not a review one) for my Mum’s September Macmillan Coffee Morning. I just couldn’t resist reading it.

I Let You Go begins with a shocking prologue concerning a mother, her young child and a crash. The plot was tense, exciting and thrilling from the first page. The point of view coming from the detective was an interesting move to make on Clare’s behalf as we usually hear from them through someone else’s eyes but it worked well. Jenna’s world has come crashing down; she’s got nobody to help her, only the police who can only do so much and I really sympathised with her.

“I don’t want a cup of tea, but I take it anyway.”

The pace of the book was slow and I’ll be honest – it drove me mad! I wanted it to be a quick paced but it just wasn’t. When Jenna moved away, her chapters really picked up – we saw the best and worst in her yet she still made quite an impact on me. As for the chapters of Ray (the police officer), we seemed to learn a lot more about his life than I expected. But why? What did he have to do with the plot and why was his life relevant? His colleague Kate made me a bit suspicious; there was something about her that made me feel on edge and she took the police case too close to home.

“Then, before he could question what was happening, he was kissing her.”

The first part of the book ended with laughter, water, fear and some confusion from me, the reader. What the fiddle sticks is going on? We hear from someone else, someone new in a flashback – one which really grabbed my attention. Who is he and what has he done to Jenna? It was frustrating not knowing but it truly did perk the narrative up in my eyes.

“Wherever you’ve gone to, I’ll find you. And then I will come for you.”

With themes of domestic violence, broken families, fear, sexual force, new friends and love – there’s nothing which this thriller doesn’t touch upon and due to the large amount of variety, it won me over. When people talk about I Let You Go – the big twist is mentioned and I’ll be honest; I wasn’t shocked, I didn’t think it was a huge twist and shock. It was very well played out with the domestic violence aspect but I didn’t find it to be a big jaw dropping turn of events. I really did enjoy how Clare wrote the dramatic ending but, and I hate this, it was what I expected to come from that storyline. If you think back to when Jenna first moved, it all clicks into place and Clare very cleverly dropped the jigsaw pieces in the right place for readers to put together.

“I smile; I am no longer afraid.”

Twitter: @claremackint0sh

Films I’ve Seen Recently #3

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Hello, 

Films are a big part of my life and they’re the perfectly way to tune out for a while. So what have I seen recently?

FILM #1 – The Hunger Games

I had the big TV all to myself one Saturday evening whilst I was off work and when it comes to about 8:50pm, I’m always wondering if there’s any decent 9pm films on and to my luck – Channel 4 decided to showcase The Hunger Games. However, they stupidly told viewers they were watching Catching Fire – awkward much? Never the less, I actually really enjoyed it – I didn’t expect a lot from it but it really was like a mix between The TriWizard Tournament from the Harry Potter series and Big Brother (the TV show). It was jam packed with adventure, science fiction, fantasy and even a tiny bit of romance. Will I watch Catching Fire? Maybe.

FILM #2 – I Am Legend 

ITV2 really do show some brilliant yet old films on evenings. I’ve seen this film once or twice before and it’s brilliant. I do love a good chick lit film, don’t get me wrong but I also love a good adventure story behind it. Will Smith is a superb actor and I’m not afraid to say that I got a bit emosh when something happens *no spoilers* but you will jump, like I did, possibly..

FILM #3 – Pitch Perfect 2 

Pitch Perfect 2 is the best pick me up film I think I’ve ever seen – it’s up there with Grease (all time fave). The original cast are back – Anna Kendrick as Becca, Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy and the really unbelievably hot fella as Jesse – swoon! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the beginning and at first, it didn’t have the same impact on me as the first film did, but it picked itself up and I was crying with laughter by the end.

Which films have you seen recently? Let me know in the comments below.

EL xx

Celebrate Father’s Day With Bakerdays!

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Happy Fathers Day!

I bet you weren’t expecting a cheeky Sunday post from me, right? Well in the spirit of Father’s Day, Bakerdays got in touch with me in mid-May to see if I would like to celebrate the special day with one of their personalised cakes for my Dad. Now, who on earth would turn down free cake? Not me, that’s for sure! They very kindly let me choose which design I wanted and they even added a little something special for my Dad.

*Disclaimer: Bakerdays have kindly sent this product for review but all opinions are my own. 

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Your personalised cake comes in a gorgeous tin, complete with balloons, candles and one of those party things that makes a lot of noise – what are they called? I really like the fact that they added these to my cake because it gives off more of a celebration feel. But what are you supposed to sing on Father’s Day? Happy Father’s Day to you…

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I opted for a football personalised cake, simply because my Dad is obsessed with football and because of our joint love for the sport, we’re super close and he’s literally my best pal. Bakerdays doesn’t just stop at Father’s Day Cakes, they do ones for birthdays, anniversaries, celebrity faces (oh hello Daniel Radcliffe), christening, holy communion, One Direction (with or without Zayn, that’s the question) and so many more.

The cakes are well detailed from footballers around the edge to on the top of the cake. As you’ve probably worked out by now, we support Manchester United so a cheeky #mufc was a necessary mark that just had to make it. This cake which I have is classed as ‘Letterbox’ one and it stands at £14.99 plus if you order a week in advance, you get free delivery. Now, everyone loves free P&P, right?

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If you want something a little different, Bakerdays don’t just do the regular cakes, they also do cupcakes as well as photo cakes. Amazing! I love how they have so much choice.

I hope that wherever you are in the world, especially the UK that you’re enjoying Father’s Day with your Pops. I’m off to tuck into some cake!

EL xx

11 Reasons Why Being A Book Blogger Is Great

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IT’S FRIDAY! 

I wanted to finish this week’s set of posts off with something fun – you guys know I enjoy mixing my blog up between books, lifestyle and beauty. I’ve always been about the books and this blog will try to accommodate as many as possible for YOUR enjoyment so please do bear with me on reviews/interviews etc. Now that’s out of the way, time for something fun and I’ve never seen a post like this before – I bet there’s some floating around so if you know of any, do link them in the comments for others to see.

So why is being a book blogger so great? 

1. You get to read, A LOT

2. Authors really care about your opinions

3. People come to you when they need a recommendation

4. You are sent early review copies

5. Authors allow you to interview them and you can ask anything

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Oh hi, Paige Toon 

6. It’s acceptable to take a book with you at all times (even to the bathroom)

7. You get excited when someone buys your favourite book in Waterstones

8. Authors follow you on Twitter

9. It’s perfectly okay to analysis a book for hours on end

10. The author knows who you are when you see them at signings

11. Your opinion matters

Are you a book blogger or do you just love to read?

EL xx

Review of The Sun In Her Eyes by Paige Toon

Published: 21st May 2015

Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Pages: 400

Blurb:

Amber was three when a car crash stole her mother’s life. She doesn’t remember the accident, but a stranger at the scene has been unable to forget. Now, almost thirty years later, she’s trying to track Amber down. Amber, meanwhile, is married to Ned and living on the other side of the world in London. When her father has a stroke, she flies straight home to Australia to be with him. Away from her husband, Amber finds comfort in her oldest friends, but her feelings for Ethan, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she once fell for, have never been platonic. As Ethan and Amber grow closer, married life in London feels far away. Then Amber receives a letter that changes everything…

Review:

Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster for kindly sending me a review copy. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that Paige is my favourite author besides JK Rowling and Nicholas Sparks so when a cheeky copy was popped in the post for me, squeals of joy were heard all over the house. I’ve calmed down now, just about..

The Sun In Her Eyes opens with a prologue of a promise which has yet to be filled. Doris knew Amber when she was three, she’s the reason her mother passed away in a car accident and now it’s time to tell Amber the message. Instantly mesmerised in the scene with Paige’s descriptive language converting readers from Doris’ current state of mind to her remembering the accident.

“My first thought was to pour a glass of water over his head, my second was that it might ruin our brown-suede sofa, so I resisted.”

Amber isn’t having the best of days; her husband was out with his flirty female boss, he stinks of booze and alcohol and her neighbour has shouted at her. Oh and not to forget the worse – she’s been made redundant whilst having frizzy hair. Very quickly, her world changes – she goes from being in her flat with her husband Ned in London to flying across the world to Australia in order to be with her father at a crucial time. I really love how Paige doesn’t wait around for the drama, she brings it onto the characters thick and fast which allowed me to sink into the narrative even more. Ethan sounded like an absolute dream of a man when Amber first mentioned him and the anticipation of seeing him again was electric. Paige had made it obvious that Amber still had feelings for Ethan, despite being married to Ned and even after all this time. What to do when true love comes knocking?

“He really has no idea of the effect he has on me. He never has.”

Ethan is everything a Paige Toon male character ought to be: incredibly good-looking, motivated, charming, successful and doing what makes them happy. He really was a dream to read about and when Amber saw him again, their conversation just clicked. It was as if I’d known them for absolute years and I was just simply spying on two old friends having a catch up.

“Even in my drunken state, I’m profoundly aware that what has just been said can never be taken back.”

It’s hard to forget that Amber is in Australia purely for six weeks in order to help her Dad and his rather annoying other half. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and with Paige’s easy flow of spectacular words, I felt right at home in sunny Down Under. Despite Amber and Ethan taking control of the plot, we do hear from Doris just before the middle of the book. I really, really liked this idea. It allowed the readers to continue thinking of this mystery whilst being heavily involved in a crazy love story. At the beginning, readers don’t know a lot about the car crash and I liked the fact that Paige gave us a little insight to what happened every now and then; it was a refreshing twist on the event.

“The woman’s face was deathly white, her lips and hands cold and shaking as Doris begged her to conserve her energy.”

The tension and dramatic events which lead up to the end are spectacular. Amber and Ethan discover something that neither of them were expecting or wanting for that matter. Yikes! The two of them as main characters were so utterly brilliant to read about. I dove head first into their world, their friendship and I didn’t want them to be driven apart like they were all those years ago. We’ve had unexpected life changes in Paige’s books before but never the less, I really did enjoy this twist of their lives. What’s next for the best friends?

“You’ve already told me what you want. You want me to kill it.”

When the time comes for Amber and Doris to meet, I was a little nervous for them both. Clearly whatever message needed to be passed on was going to change their lives in some way – was it a good thing or a bad thing? I like how Paige allowed Doris to have her own point of view chapters (only two or three) as it was purely Amber who we heard from; it gave a sense of newness, excitement and finally, we were going to uncover what happened. What readers are told was not what I expected at all and in reality, it fitted in very nicely with the plot and allowed little pieces to be put together.

“I’ve always felt guilty about leaving you.”

The ending wasn’t what I thought it would be at all and I’m kind of pleased that Paige didn’t go down the obvious route which readers may have expected. From her divine descriptions of Australia and London to her captivating characters to the heartwarming plot, this is my favourite book of the Summer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Amber; she was such a magnificently complex character who didn’t always know what she wanted in life but that’s why I was able to relate to her so much and I’m sure other readers will as well. Yet again, Paige has written another bestselling Chick Lit book and is it any wonder she’s my favourite author?

Twitter: @PaigeToonAuthor

Review of Four Tasty PROPERCORN Flavours

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Hello, 

At the North West Bloggers Meet Up, we were kindly gifted a packet of PROPERCORN and my flavour was Sweet Coconut and Vanilla. Unfortunately, I can’t eat a great deal of coconut and as a reviewer, I had to be honest about it. The lovely people over at PROPERCORN said “no worries, can we send you some other flavours?” So they did.

*Disclaimer: PROPERCORN have kindly sent these products for review but my opinion is 100% my own.

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Four packets are each of the five flavours were kindly sent, including the one I can’t eat but they’ve been donated to an upcoming Macmillan Coffee Morning so waste not, want not and all that jazz. I’ve reviewed the other four flavours and it was the perfect excuse to watch lots of films!

Lightly Sea Salted

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SO GOOD. With 88 calories per packet, I’ll happily eat these for lunch! I’m not one of those people who adds salt to their chips because for me, extra salt ruins a meal so I was a little skeptical about trying these but holy moly, they’re so good. There isn’t a strong taste of salt and perhaps that is why I like them so much? The design on the front of the packet is really quite clever and adds to the Lightly Sea Salted eating experience.

Sweet & Salty

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CINEMA GOODNESS. Fed up of paying a stupid amount of £ for a bucket of popcorn? Well, you’ll like this quite a lot because not only do Sweet & Salty smell like the cinema, they also taste like their popcorn as well and they’re better for your purse/wallet. For me, they were more sweet than salty but you could easily mix them with the Lightly Sea Salted ones if you’re watching a long film. I’m going to save a packet for when I go to see the new James Bond film – can’t wait.

Sour Cream & Black Pepper

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ONCE YOU POP, YOU CANNOT STOP. I really, really like the Sour Cream pringles, you know which ones I mean, right? So when PROPERCORN sent me Sour Cream & Black Pepper popcorn, I was eager to try it. The flavour of the Sour Cream comes through straight away but then I was left with an aftertaste of black pepper which I wasn’t a particular fan of. I think I’ll stick to the pringles for now..

Fiery Worcester Sauce & Sun-Dried Tomato

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TOO HOT. HOT DAMN. Name that tune. Literally, too much for me. I’m such a simple eater – no spices, no peppers, no hot sauces – purely because my body reacts to it. The smell of these is incredible but they taste just a bit too much fiery for me but on the plus side, I finally know what Worcester Sauce tastes like!

Have you tried PROPERCORN before? 

EL xx