July Books 2011

Sunday, 31 July 2011

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Another busy month for getting a lot of reading done. I always seem to read a lot more in the summer months, perhaps it has something to do with the longer days? This month I have read:-

No Room For Secrets by Joanna Lumley: her memoir where she takes the reader into her home and visits each room, one by one. It sounds like an interesting concept but becomes quite tedious as the book progresses. I expected so much more from this fascinating woman who I have long admired and was left feeling disappointed. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: is a bleak and depressing take on a burnt out post-apocalyptic America, I loved it. Thin by Grace Bowman: is the author's memoir of growing up with anorexia. It's insightful and emotional but the changes of first and third person were a little annoying.

Marley and Me by John Grogan: cute and heart-warming memoir which recounts a couple's life with a naughty dog. Keep The Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell: I found this quite a tough book to get through because the protaganist/antihero Gordon Comstock is simply one of the most miserable characters I have ever encountered. Stick with it though, it is quietly brilliant in its own way. Gerald's Game by Stephen King: good psychological horror about a woman who is handcuffed to a bed for a large portion of the whole book. Brings up all of those 'what would you do?' sorts of questions.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: pretty close to the film, definitely read it if you've watched the movie a million times like I have. The Story of Babalou Roy by Amelia Fergusson: I won this via a Goodreads giveaway and it's amazing. A collection of eight short stories which showcase some of the worst sides of human life and the sad parts too. The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark: a really weird novella, seriously it's odd. Read it for 1001 Books You Should Read before you Die book club.

Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris: I was expecting a satire on the mundane lives of office workers but this was pretty boring. It has some good parts in it but the first third of it really dragged. Prep by Curtis Sittenfield: great coming of age story set in a boarding school, enjoyed this a lot and the author did a fantastic job of getting into the head of a teenage girl. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P Lovecraft: collection of short stories that span a variety of genres including horror, paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy.

All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland: wanted to like this but just found it annoying. A silly cartoonish caricature of a dysfunctional American family that was trying way too hard to be cool. Poems on the Underground by Gerard Benson: a good mix of old and new poems, one of those books which would be nice to dip in and out of or give as a gift. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I'm not the biggest Austen fan but I did enjoy this. It was much better reading it from the perspective of an adult than it was when I was forced to read it at school.

Add me on Goodreads for more reviews and books :)

NOTD: Barry M - Cyan Blue

Friday, 29 July 2011

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If I could only wear one nail colour for the whole summer, it would probably be this Cyan Blue, which stands out a treat from all of the corals and hot pinks about at the moment.

Lush Haul & reviews

Monday, 25 July 2011

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I bought a couple of bits from Lush recently with the last of the vouchers I received for my birthday, back in June. It's save to say that I now have enough Lush products to last me until Christmas!

Here's what I picked up:-

Fair Trade Foot Lotion
- I've repurchased this so many times. It's a lovely spearminty lotion that makes my feet nice and soft. I use it almost daily and this big pot will last me a good couple of months.

New shampoo bar - I've tried this out twice and my hair hates it. Too drying for me so I'm going to swap/sell it on I think.

Tea Tree Toner - Bought the small size to try it out. I wish I had gotten the bigger size up now because it's so good! I find that the best way to use this is by spraying it all over your face, leaving it on for a moment and then removing the excess with a cotton wool pad. Lovely and refreshing and seems to be helping to calm my combination/oily skin.

Creme Anglaise hand & body lotion - They had these next to the till for £1 so I decided to try it out. Smells great, absorbs into the skin quickly with no greasiness, really like it. May invest in a big pot when I'm feeling a bit more flush and have used up the other 10000 body lotions in my room.

American Cream conditioner - This is one of their 'double strength' hair conditioners so I thought I'd give it a go. Oh. My. God. This smells amazing! It's a nicely balanced (not too overpowering, yet not too weak either) sweet vanilla scent that lingers in your hair for hours afterwards. It conditions really well, no heavy product feeling at all and left my hair shiny and soft. Will definitely be repurchasing in the bigger size.

NOTD: Velvet Underground/Warhol banana inspired nails

Friday, 22 July 2011

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I've been having an epic tidy up this morning and my clean up soundtrack has been courtesy of The Velvet Underground. As a little tribute (and because I was bored), I painted my nails with little Warhol inspired bananas! They're a bit messy and look better from a distance, but I'll probably be changing my nails again for the weekend anyway.

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How to:-
1. Use a basecoat, I used a Chanel one, purely because I'm using it up at the moment.
2. Paint on a white polish, I used two coats of one from Barry M.
3. Once that has dried, paint little banana shapes with a yellow nail polish. Again, I used one from Barry M. You could use a paintbrush if you're more creative and less rushed than I am.
4. Allow to dry and then use either a black eyeliner or a nail art pen (mine's from Models Own) to outline the banana shapes and add a bit of definition.
5. Use a topcoat or spritz on a quick dry spray, the one I used is Avon's Liquid Freeze spray.
6. All done!

Elf haul: reviews & swatches

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


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I ordered some products from Elf on Friday and they arrived yesterday, their delivery is excellent! I took advantage of one of their promotions and bought some things I wanted to try out. The only products from Elf that I've tried in the past have been disappointing (nail varnishes and the HD powder), so I was a little wary of what to get. I bought four products from their studio line (prices are around £3.50 each) and two products from the normal range (£1.50 prices).

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I'll start with the good stuff first. Their Blush and Bronzer compact is amazing. I've seen this talked about in various blogs and it was the first item I put in the basket. The blush is a lovely everyday pink with a slight gold shimmer, ideal if you want a natural looking flush. The bronzer is great for contouring and blends quite easily after some buffing. It doesn't suit me that much as an all over the face bronzer (I'll stick with Hoola for that) as it is quite muddy looking, but for contouring cheeks it's perfect for me. As with most of the studio compacts, it's packaged in hard matte plastic casing and has a nice big mirror.

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My second favourite product was the Conditioning Lip Balm with SPF 15. The packaging for this is a HUGE cube, I've never seen a lip balm in something so big! The formula is thick and creamy, with a subtle vanilla type scent to it. It conditions lips very well - I usually find cheaper brands of lip balms/tints to be the opposite and quite drying, so I was pleasantly surprised with this. I bought it in 'Nice & Natural' which is a subtle pink nude shade.

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Having looked at their £1.50 range, I decided to try out one of their liquid eye liners. I bought 'Plum' which I was hoping would be dark purple (you know, a plum shade), but as you can see from the swatch I did below, it's almost black. I wasn't too fussed by this having recently used up my last black eye liner, so I tried it on the lids and was impressed. It applies easy enough, didn't smudge and lasted for several hours, so not bad for £1.50!

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In my package, I received this pencil as a freebie. It doesn't appear to be on their website but it looks identical to their shimmer eye liners. It's OK, a nice creamy white/silvery liner but the attached sharpener in the lid is useless.

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Also from the £1.50 range, I bought the Clarifying Pressed Powder in 'Honey'. The shade is much too dark for me and the powder itself didn't sit well on my combination skin.

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Now for the two products that I really hated. This Complete Coverage Concealer palette in 'Medium' was a nightmare. The shades looked promising at at a first glance, but when I swatched them, I knew they weren't going to work for me, only the third shade seemed OK. The formula has a very hard waxy consistency, that then turns creamy on the skin. They supply a little brush with the compact, but it's impossible to use it. You'd need to use your fingers or a sponge with this to warm it up. On the skin, the third shade didn't quite match me under the eyes and creased immediately, even when I used a primer. Wouldn't recommend.

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Lastly, I didn't get on with the Corrective Concealer palette. It has the same formula as the one above so was a nightmare to apply and the colours just weren't pigmented enough to cover anything up. I've seen a lot of people rave about this product but it didn't work for me.

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I'm happy with the products that I did like, especially the Blush & Bronzer duo. The concealer palettes were a major let down but as they were only £3.50 each, I don't think you can be too disappointed. The main problem with Elf is that because they are a cheap-as-chips online only company, you're dependent on online reviews and swatches to see what their products are like.

My advice if you're thinking of buying from Elf:-
  • Take advantage of their frequent promotions (20% off deals, free shipping etc).
  • Stick to a set budget - it's easy to get carried away and end up spending more than you intended because everything is 'cheap' - it all adds up!
  • Check out swatches & reviews online.
  • Buy only one item from each section e.g I probably wouldn't have purchased a second concealer palette if I'd already tried out the first one.
To leave on a happier note, here's my Elf face with the products I did like:-
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NOTD: Rimmel 10 day black polish

Thursday, 14 July 2011

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Well Rimmel, your 'up to 10 days' nail polish lasted around two days before chipping into one big old mess. The polish itself is pretty good, but marketing claims that fail to deliver Annoy Me. Think I'll stick to my trusted Urban Decay's 'Perversion', next time I fancy dark nails.

NOTD: OPI - Jade Is The New Black

Monday, 11 July 2011

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Quite possibly my favourite shade of green ever.

What's in my bag?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

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The bag: this was purchased second-hand for a bargain price, originally from Warehouse. It's pretty huge and goes with everything. I'm boring and tend to stick with black for day-to-day.

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What's inside?
- Glasses & glasses case
- Handmade notepad (maybe from Etsy? I forget) & two pens. I always carry two pens in case one runs out and they're always black ink ones.
- Two fold-up shopping bags - I try to not use plastic ones anymore.
- Book - always, always try to carry a book with me. I picked this up yesterday because my friend was telling me off for never having read anything by Lovecraft.
- Bottle of water - random fact, I have a serious phobia of choking to death so I panic if I don't have some water with me. I generally buy one bottle and then fill it up with filtered tap water. Trust me, you save a LOT of money and it's much better for the environment.
- Healthy snack - usually a Graze punnet of some sort or an apple/banana. Or maybe a chocolate bar...
- Packet of tissues.
- Keys.
- Girly essentials (see below) - in this cute handmade skull pansies cotton pouch.
- Coin purse and wallet - both vintage, I've had these for years and years. Never buy highstreet wallets, they seem to fall apart in seconds.
- Ipod shuffle - had this for ages too, it still works so why change?
- Notebook that I converted into a diary.
- Sunglasses case - think this was from H&M.
- (not pictured) Mobile phone - forgot to include my ancient and therefore cool, retro BlackBerry, these may have come out in the late 90s. It works and doesn't constantly glitch like everyone else's 'new' phone does. (You can see how I save a lot of money here)

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Girly essentials pouch:
- Blotting tissues - my face turns into an oily mess in Summer so these work well. They're the tea tree ones from The Body Shop but do the same job as every other brand I've tried.
- Burts Bees lip balm - probably my all-time favourite lip balm ever.
- Lip gloss - this one's from Barry M and goes on a nice sheer colour.
- Kirby grip & toothpicks.
- Mirror - this was a little gift from a friend, another item that I've had for years.

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That's it!
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