Products I’m Loving Right Now..

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Remember me? I’m that girl who used to post Monday to Friday without fail but then kind of lost her blogging mojo.. 

Yup, it’s been a good week or so since you last heard from me and it’s been a stressful silence. I’m not going to dive into it but I’m slowly loving Social Media again – especially the Twitter chats and of course, I’m always on Instagram. Cheeky plugs right there.

I thought I would bounce back with a slicing of positive vibes and what better way than to show you some of the beauty products (and a candle) which I’ve been absolutely OBSESSED with recently.

*Disclaimer: None of these products were sent for review, this is just purely for fun and my opinions are 100% my own.

Primark Candles

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Who said candles were just for autumn and winter? I’ve had mine lit all year round and the smell of this Primark Nectarine & Lemon Blossom candle is heavenly. It’s so calming and the scent is just a subtle hint which lingers for hours even after you’ve blown it out. This particular £2 candle burns up to 30 hours and you can also buy it in a smaller version as well as in tealights – AMAZING! I’m also loving the White Tea & Peony candle but that sadly burnt out and I’m yet to replace.

Rimmel 60 Seconds Super Shine Nail Polish 

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A while ago, I wrote a blog post about one of these phenomenal nail polishes (link below) – like, HELLO, holy grail! The four colours I have are Rose Libertine, Let’s Get Nude, Breakfast In Bed and Lose Your Lingerie. They’re four stunning colours which I just adore – but not only that, they’re incredibly practical as they survive multiple showers which is a big winner for me. They’re £2.99 each and my only issue is: which colour to get next?

I Love… Nourishing Body Butter

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I’ve had my eye on the I Love… range for quite some time so when I needed a body butter to slightly match a clementine shower gel, I opted for this one and I’m seriously happy that I did because it’s a smell which lingers for HOURS! I think I’m definitely going to pick up the Mango & Papaya shower gel asap because it would be silly not to. I just adore this range.

Collection Cosmetics Lasting Colour Lipstick

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I’ve always known that Collection were a brand who are very well-loved by bloggers and in particular, their concealer is THE BEST! I invested in a long-lasting lipstick (Pretty in Peach) which is just stunning. I personally apply lip balm first simply because this is in the middle of matte and creamy for me.

Collection Cosmetics Gorgeous Glow 

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Along with their concealer, this is the best product from Collection (so good, I did a post about it). It’s my go-to blush for when I want more of a highlighted cheek bone look and it gives me exactly that! Swirling my angled brush on the block gives you an incredibly glow look; ideal for any occasion. I just can’t live without it.

Nivea Invisible Deodorant 

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Since I can remember, I’ve used the same Sanex Dermo Sensitive deodorant but with working in both black and white shirts, I needed something which wouldn’t leave any sprayed stains so I took a chance on my first Nivea deodorant and it’s genius. Not only does it keep my black and white shirts in colour, but it also leaves a fresh smell which lingers through my shifts. I’ll be repurchasing for certain!

AND.. that is everything which I’ve been loving recently. Not a great deal but I know when I love a product when I use it for weeks on end before telling you all. I hope you all enjoyed my kind of ‘come back’ post. 

Are there any products you’ve been loving recently? Let me know!

EL xx

Review of My Sister’s Secret by Tracy Buchanan

Published: 13th August 2015
Publisher:
Avon
Pages:
400

Blurb: 

Everything you’ve built your life on is a lie.. Willow’s memories of her parents are sun-drenched and full of smiles, love and laughter. But a mysterious invitation to a photographic exhibition exposes a secret that’s been buried since a tragic accident years ago. Willow is forced to question everything she knew about Charity, her late mother, and Hope, the aunt she’s lived with since she was a child. How was the enigmatic photographer connected to Willow’s parents? Why will Hope not break her silence? Willow cannot move forward in her life without answers. But who can she really trust? Because no one has been telling the truth for a very long time.

Review:

Thank you to Avon for kindly sending me a review copy.

The prologue opens in Busby-on-Sea in 1977 where the three sisters; Faith, Charity and Hope are discussing their plans to hunt down underwater forests when they’re older. Straight away, Tracy informs readers of how different the three sisters are; Faith is the adventurer, Charity is the pretty one and Hope is the creative one.

“It’s not just that. That rich dude who owned the ship? That was my Dad.”

The plot swifts quickly into 2016 where Willow (niece of Hope) is diving in Greece with some members of a crew. I could sense that she was desperate for some sort of answers; whether she would find them in the sea was a whole other question. It is when Willow discovers a necklace in one of her Mum’s purses that the mystery of who ‘N’ is begins and with Charity’s point of view from the past, the clues quickly added a lot of drama to the narrative. The other sister, Hope was quite miserable to say the least and as the plot thickens early on, we learn how she lost both of her sisters and I could help but feel sorry for her.

“Whatever it was they decided to do, it was time to stop living in the past.”

In the flashback chapters with Charity, she strikes up quite a friendship with a rather rich couple Dan and Lana, who insist on setting her up with her old childhood friend Niall. Yet their story isn’t as simple as that and in actual fact, it’s quite dark. I surprised myself by enjoying Charity’s chapters a lot more than I did with Willow’s, which isn’t usually the case. I liked the aspect of wherever Charity went throughout the world, Willow also went as she looked for clues about the mystery man who loved her mother so much. The relationship between Charity and Niall was a forbidden one; but I still wanted them to be together despite knowing they weren’t.

“The three sisters all seem so different on first glance. But on closer inspection you can see they have the same shape to their faces: cherub cheeks, high foreheads, full lips.”

Just when you think Tracy can’t throw another twist in any more, SHE DOES! What a messed up family they are but it’s quite the sweet ending that I had hoped for. With beautiful descriptions of Busby-on-Sea, India and Austria, an enchanted love for underwater forests and a range of characters, this is a book to sink your teeth into.

Twitter: @TracyBuchanan

Review of Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Published: 1st August 2015
Publisher:
Usborne
Pages: 448

Blurb:

All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing left to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

Review:

As I type this (literally 2 seconds before I post it for you all to read), Am I Normal Yet? is 98p on Kindle. GO GO GO!

Evie has a Mental Health disorder when it comes to washing her hands. No matter how clean they are, sometimes they need to scrubbed. Her best friend Jane has been there since day one and has remained by her side every since, until Joel came along that is.. Evie just wants to be normal – to have close friends around her, good college grades and possibly, a boyfriend but who knows when cider will ruin that for her? I instantly liked Evie and I really warmed to her; she was her own person despite her OCD and I just knew I would be able to relate to such a reliable narrator.

“We were euphoric the whole summer – planning our new lives, our future happiness, with the same determination of a crazed bride-to-be.”

Evie’s connection to films really touched me. Not only did I do Film Studies at college/Uni but they’re also my way of escaping from the world, much like Evie and this is why Holly Bourne is such a flipping fantastic author! The biggest theme within the book is Mental Health; OCD and anxiety in particular. Not only is it Evie telling us her story, she also gives us some facts and home truths about MH in general which is extremely beneficial to anyone (with or without a history of MH).

“…now people use the phrase OCD to describes minor personality quirks; ‘Oooh, I like my pens in line, I’m so OCD.’ NO YOU’RE FUCKING NOT.”

At 30% into the utterly phenomenal plot, I wanted to cry.. BECAUSE IT IS SPOT ON! I didn’t know what to expect with two characters having Mental Health; how they would differ, would they would work together to help each other or if they went down different routes. Oli was such a sweet character yet I understood completely why Evie went in the direction that she did. The only part of the plot which I questioned was Evie’s drinking at parties; surely if you’re on medication, you can’t drink? Well, you can but not a great deal unlike this 16 year old narrator.

“That’s the thing about anxiety. You can worry about anything and everything, dream up all sorts of weird and wonderful situations to be terrified of in the hope your fear will control the world somehow..and yet the world remains uncontrollable. Nothing you can imagine is ever as weird and wonderful as reality and what it chucks at you.”

GUY. He was funny, smart and most of all, he made Evie forget about all the bad thoughts going on in her brain 24/7. He fooled both Evie and myself – OH MY LIFE. What an idiot who needs a giant slap! Speaking of the male species; the plot isn’t just about Mental Health (well it is but there are other topics). The whole idea of girls changing themselves to suit a particular boy is spoken about quite a lot with the main example being Jane (Evie’s supposedly BFF).. Why change for anyone? Shouldn’t you be loved for who you are and nobody else? Holly continually hits the nail on the head with these topics; she is a Literature genius. Speaking of friends.. Amber and Lottie were the ideal girls to be friends with: funny, caring, smart, unique yet it was obvious that Evie found it difficult to trust them 100% with her health issues.

“My room stunk of pine. If I opened the cupboard I wouldn’t be surprised if Robin Hood was squatting in there.”

Towards the end, Evie’s condition takes a turn for the worse and I felt the impact of her life hit me like a ton of bricks. Her family were incredibly realistic with their ‘it’s easy to stop this’ comments, because we all know: IT IS NEVER EASY! She is by far, the bravest character I think I’ve ever come across in my twenty-four years of reading. If you’re reading this review and you have any type of Mental Health (OCD or anxiety) or you know somebody who is clueless to the definition, then I strongly suggest you read this and then make them buy a copy.

Holly Bourne, you’re a genius and I can not wait for the second book in the Normal series. BRING IT ON.

Twitter: @holly_bourneYA 

#ShareYourSerenity With Portmeirion

Happy Saturday one and all,

A little while ago, the lovely folk over at Portmeirion got in touch about sharing my serenity with you all. I don’t know about you, but relaxing and taking some time away from the busy schedule is always welcomed. So, naturally I said yes…

*Disclaimer: Portmeirion have not sponsored me for this post.

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Serenity means the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. I was asked to create a collage of four things in my little universe that bring me serenity whether that is on a daily, weekly or monthly basis..

Candles
Hi, my name is Emma and I’m addicted to candles. There is nothing more soothing than lighting a beautiful smelling candle and just relaxing with a book, a film or a TV show. The one above is Nectarine & Lemon Blossom from Primark and it smells divine. I light this in a morning, an afternoon or in an evening – it is a scent which I will never tire of and with a soothing smell floating around my bedroom, I feel calm.

Nature
I don’t live in a city, I live in a little village where my house backs onto a farmers field. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see this shot on multiple occasions because it’s just wonderful. I’m quite lucky that this is the view from my bedroom window so at night time, with the candles lit – it’s rather spectacular.

Merf
JUST LOOK AT HIS FACE. I’m pretty sure that a one year old Border Collie puppy won’t bring peace or calmness to anyone but you will be surprised, he has his moments of when he just wants to sit on the sofa with me and have a snooze. He’s a little babe and I couldn’t not include him as he makes my family rather happy.

Books
You know I love them and I have done since I could read. My little collection in my bedroom is my favourite part of my room and I love nothing more than switching off my phone, lighting candles, curling up on the sofa with Merf and a really good book. You can always see what I’m reading over on Twitter.

What brings you serenity? Let me know in the comments below!

EL xx

Review of High Tide by Veronica Henry

Published: 24th September 2015
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 336

Blurb:

Pennfleet might be a small town, but there’s never a dull moment in its narrow winding streets… Kate has only planned a flying visit to clear out the family home after the death of her mother. When she finds an anonymous letter, she is drawn back into her own past. Single dad Sam is juggling his deli and two lively teenagers, so romance is the last thing on his mind. Then Cupid fires an unexpected arrow – but what will his children think? Nathan Fisher is happy with his lot, running picnic cruises up and down the river, but kissing the widow of the richest man in Pennfleet has disastrous consequences. Vanessa knows what she has done is unseemly for a widow, but it’s the most fun she’s had for years. Must she always be on her best behaviour?

Review: 

Thank you to Orion for kindly sending me a review copy.

“Funerals in Pennfleet were rather like buses. There wasn’t one for ages, then two came along at once.”

Kate’s story opens the plot beautifully with strong descriptions of the seaside town of Pennfleet as she returns from New York City for her mother’s funeral, a well loved member of the friendly community. Sam’s story was really heartwarming; a widow with two teenage children in a new home, always trying to make them happy and in return, they have something up their sleeves. I enjoyed that within Sam’s chapters, we sometimes heard from his two children; that was an aspect of the narrative which I thought spoke volumes. Vanessa’s story started off rather glumly on the morning of her husband’s funeral; the man who had forced her to be someone else and now, she was free but what to do? Nathan’s opening was short and sweet, much like he as a character; going out of his way to comfort a widow who is unable to grieve.

“Kissing the widow of the richest man in town probably wasn’t one of his best ideas.”

The plot flowed really well and I found myself picking up the book at intervals during the day and being completely absorbed in Veronica’s fictional world. Her descriptions are always beautiful; not too much but enough to give you a vivid picture of the surroundings. With the characters being so diverse in age, it’s a plot that pleases everyone as it conquers themes during different generations. I didn’t particularly have a favourite, but Sam could easily be the main character in his own deli based narrative..

“I bet you say that to all the cougars.”

With the blurb, you would expect certain characters to come together and be romantically involved, but that isn’t always the case; especially when it comes to a Veronica Henry novel. Jam packed with sea life, first loves, puppies and new dreams – this is one to curl up with this upcoming Autumn. I absolutely loved it.

Twitter: @veronica_henry

Review of Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith

Published: 14th April 2015
Publisher:
Poppy
Pages: 84

Blurb: 

Ellie O’Neill and Graham Larkin fell hard for each other when a misspelled email address unexpectedly brought them together. Now, over a year has passed since they said goodbye with the promise to stay in touch, and their daily emails have dwindled to nothing. Ellie is a freshman in college and has told herself to move on, and Graham has kept himself busy starring in more movies, as well as a few tabloid columns. But fate brought these two together once before–and it isn’t done with them yet.

Review:

This is the short sequel to This Is What Happy Looks Like

Ellie and Graham live two very different lives. She’s a small town girl braving it at Harvard and he’s a big movie star who has his life splashed out in the tabloids. But together, they’re magic.

“Even before she saw the explosion of flashes at the far end of the block, Ellie knew somehow that he was there.”

With Ellie, being out of her comfort zone takes an awful lot of encouragement from herself. She would much rather be in bed with a good book than exploring the world but now, she has the chance to visit New York City. Ellie, as a character, is very relatable and that’s why I loved reading her point of view. So many girls at any age are able to pick up the short plot and think ‘yup, that’s me!’

“She was someone who had fallen in love with a movie star, even though it was a crazy thing to do.”

Despite the plot being short yet sweet, it was a really great narrative to read. Jennifer’s writing is just so easy to become captivated in. She’s definitely a Young Adult author who I don’t read much of but when I do, I just adore her work.

Twitter: @JenESmith

August ReRead

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Hello everybody and welcome to the 8th #monthlyreread,

Once again, it’s another Young Adult book but what can I say? I flipping love them. As you may have seen on Twitter, I randomly decided to reread Soulmates by Holly Bourne in late July so I’ve technically reread an extra book – go me! I was just desperate to pick up another YA and just indulge in some young love.

So, what’s the book this month? Drum roll if you please..

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I chose to reread A Heart Bent Out Of Shape by Emylia Hall purely because it was a favourite YA book of mine last year and as it was the first book of hers which I read, I thought I ought to reread it before her new one is on shelves.

You can read my review of the book here.

EL xx

Review of The Summer Of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

Published: 13th August 2015
Publisher:
Transworld
Pages: 352

Blurb: 

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria. As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem. It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible… Until something goes wrong.

Review:

Thank you to Transworld for kindly sending me a review copy.

The anticipated debut from Sarah Jamson opens with a prologue regarding leaving a loved one behind and carrying on with your children before venturing into Helen’s point of view throughout the past and present. In the past, Helen shares everything with readers from meeting Victoria for the first time to being told about her true personality to the Summer spent wondering when she’ll next see to her new friend.

“This is my sister. She thinks she’s in charge but she’s only fifteen. She’s called Victoria. Like the Queen. Because they’re both grumpy.”

In the present, Helen has found Victoria again and is debating whether to see her or not. To me, it seemed like Helen’s life had taken a dramatic down spiral from whatever happened during that Summer. There was no light in her personality or spring in her step – perhaps that was all for good measure?

“I do what I’ve done ever since I got here when things get too much for me. I go up to the roof.”

When Helen is about to come face to face with Victoria again, I could feel the tension continually building as we went from past to present yet I found myself enjoying the two different tenses quite a lot. The way in which Sarah wrote them with such drama was brilliant and they went together perfectly. With themes of drugs, alcohol, single-parent families, loss, depression and suicide, I’m really impressed about how Sarah beautifully interpreted a variation of life events which some teenagers do struggle with.

“Dad, when can I come home?”

The reveal of the big secret as to what happened that Summer reminded me quite a lot of We Were Liars in some sense. It was really well written and despite enjoying the ending, I felt like the impact of that Summer didn’t hit me as much as I may of done with other readers.

Twitter: @sarahontheboat

Review of Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Published: 27th August 2015
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Pages: 400

Blurb:

The emotionally driven narrative opens with heartbreak, closed curtains, empty chocolate boxes and the push from a friend. Our main character, Rachel is struggling to come to terms with what has just happened but readers aren’t aware of the situation just yet, however I liked not knowing and it leads onto us getting to know the real Rachel..

“They hadn’t even wanted to buy me the soundtrack. I’d had to get Nana to buy it for my birthday.”

Rachel has had a broken heart since she was born. As the narrative takes us back in time to when Rachel was 8 years old, we meet Andrew; a boy of the same age who is in the hospital alone with a broken arm. What I didn’t expect was his point of review, yet it amazed me of how well it suited the flow of the plot. The juxtaposition of their two very different lives whilst growing up was so unbelievably interesting and I just couldn’t stop reading. Andrew, or Andy as he likes to be called, has a upbringing with a widowed mother who has trouble saying ‘I Love You.’ The journey of Andy discovering who his father was, was quite a long process and I didn’t grow tired of his need to know more – I actually found it to be really sweet and quite touching. As a teenager, Rachel had a different life: she ached to be loved, to have sex, to fit in with her friends whilst playing down her illness. The term ‘walking on egg shells’ came to mind when I read about Rachel’s teenage years; she just didn’t seem to let her shoulders relax.

“I wanted to be the center of some guy’s universe, the only thing he could think about. I wanted to mater that way.”

When Rachel and Andy met years later at a volunteering camp, something clicked instantly between them and for a moment, I felt like I was back in The Fault In Our Stars. Their connection was really sweet and soon enough, they saw more of one another. Despite them coming from two completely different worlds, that didn’t seem to bother either of them in the slightest: Rachel being a Jew and Andy being from a white/black family. Just like any other relationship, they had their ups and downs which I really liked reading about because despite the book being set in America, their problems were still very relatable. The plot wasn’t just about their roller coaster relationship, we learnt about their lives as they grew during their time at University and into full time jobs. They were both doing good to the world and I admired that. They weren’t two selfish main characters.

“Daddy and I were watching the Today show.. Two planes bit the Twin Towers. They’re saying it might be terrorists.”

Jennifer wrote the characters of Rachel and Andy with such control, precision and life. It was so easy to fall into step with their two lives and when they always came back together, it was like they’d never been apart. They were able to rely on one another despite going months, even years without speaking – they were always there for one another, at the good and bad times. Despite the ever so slightly rushed ending, I found myself smiling in awe of the couple who just couldn’t let their hearts truly love anyone else. It was romantic, extremely well written and a plot you just can’t not enjoy.

“Was that what he had to look forward to? Mud masks and unannounced farting?”

Twitter: @jenniferweiner

IKEA Haul

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Happy Friday! 

The thing with IKEA is: you go in knowing what you want yet you come out with other items. I did exactly that one Saturday afternoon.. I went in wanting a small bookcase which I had seen for £25 as well as some bedding. I didn’t get either, oops! But I did pick up a few bits and bobs for my room because I’m always adding more and making it feel even homey.

*Disclaimer: IKEA have not sponsored me for this post, it’s purely a bit of fun. 

KRAKRIS Cushion

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This white/grey puzzle cushion was £1. No joke. Click the link above and it’ll tell you I’m right. I couldn’t believe it because when you fall in love with a home ware item, it becomes more of a “I must, must purchase this” when it’s super cheap. The print of what my Dad called “puzzle splodges” isn’t my usual taste as I tend to like really plain cushions but I just adored this as it was chic, retro and I knew it would add some sort of edge to my room.

VARIERA Box 

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It’s mint! You all know how much I’ve been loving the colour mint for the past few months so this just screamed out to me. For £3, you can opt for the mint/white one (it’s white on the outside), grey/white, red/white or blue/white. I didn’t have a particular need for this but it’s actually come in handy as it’s where I store my facial pads in my little makeup section of my room. It’s really lightweight and just unbelievably great for pretty much anything.

SINNLIG Scented Candle

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IKEA has a stupid amount of candles and I love it. This was the first candle I picked up and it’s such a calming soothing spa smell. Heaven, heaven, heaven! Oh and it matches perfectly with a vanilla one I picked up a while ago. There’s not a great deal to say about the candle – it isn’t fancy, there is no design, they burn for 25 hours and all in all, it just smells relaxing.

Candle Dish

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So, these were a “last chance to buy in stock” kind of purchase. I’ve needed some small candle dishes for a while now and despite IKEA doing quite a few, I wasn’t a fan until my Dad spotted these. For 45p each – I would have been silly not to of picked them up. You can see how tidy it looks with the candle and if there is any wax spillage, then it would go onto the plate rather than on my windowsill.

Have you been to IKEA recently? What do you enjoy buying from there?

EL xx