Monday, September 1, 2014

Books I Read in August


Once again, I start this post with an overwhelming need to apologise for how much I read - isn't that awful? I realise that this is coming straight after a post in which I said I don't have time to scratch myself some days - but I always make time to read. I've read a minimum of 6 books a week since I was old enough to read. If I told you I watched 19 TV programmes in one month, I don't think that would provoke much reaction.

So here are the 19 books I read in August instead of watching TV. Apart from the Great British Bake Off. ESSENTIAL.

I read 11 books from Netgalley this month, and 8 that I bought myself.  I'll start with the Netgalley ones:

Joanna Briscoe: Touched
Touched is a Hammer Novella. It's about a young mother who moves to a sleepy English village with her husband and five children. The cottage they are moving into used to belong to the husband's mother, who was very close to Eva, one of the children. The house seems to be refusing all attempts at renovation - plus, there seems to be a hidden room. Throw in a creepy builder who seems to have a fascination with one of the other children, an "imaginary" friend and a few family secrets, and you have a dark atmospheric novel that kept me guessing until the end.

The BUST DIY Guide to Life
BUST magazine isn't something I've heard of, but the story of how it started is included here and is worth a read. The founders (one of whom is also the founder of Stitch n' Bitch) wanted to start including craft/DIY articles from a feminist slant to show women that they could still be strong, independent and make a damn good cheese ball. The book has loads of craft articles and ideas - some were too hipster for my taste (quilted wall art, pot holders) but there are still a lot of great hints and tips like how to hem jeans, or how to make a vest and pants from a large t-shirt. There are also great sections on how to support your immune system naturally, and how to support yourself financially. A lot of it is not applicable to someone who lives in very rural Ireland (as opposed to a kitsch apartment in Greenwich Village) but it was still a fun read.

Stacy McKitrick: Bite Me, I'm Yours
I haven't read any vampire fiction since the Twilight books came out, and I didn't even finish reading that series. I'm very loyal to the Buffy vampire world (turn to dust, don't sparkle, etc) but I thought I'd give this a go. Initially, it's okay. Sarah is recently divorced and meets a magnetic, enthralling guy (vampire) who seems drawn to her. The story was nothing special, it was standard girl-meets-boy, girl-has-crazy-ex, boy-fights-for-girl fare, but there was some unnecessary crudeness here that I didn't like. I'm not a prude by any sense, but when a story is trundling along nicely, it does kinda throw you when the male MC starts talking about his "other head". Seriously. There was also a very cringey scrabble scene that would never happen in real life, but I don't suppose any of it would happen in real life. It went a bit Mills & Boon and it's not a genre I'll be following. Contains allusions to a brutal rape that may be triggering.

Jessica Shirvington: Between The Lives
This was a new take on the Young Adult genre for me. The first line was "I am a liar." Every 24 hours, Sabine switches to a parallel life. In one, she has a younger sister. In another, older brothers. The only constant is that her name is Sabine in both worlds. The two lives have never crossed, but when she breaks her arm in one life and it's not broken when she switches - does this mean that there's a loophole? That potentially, she could choose a life? If so, which one would she choose? When she decides to tell her parents in one life what's going on, she is admitted to a mental hospital. It's pretty obvious which life she should choose.. until someone believes her. The ending was rushed and the "twist" was a bit meh, but I enjoyed this book a lot and could see it becoming really popular.

Peter Monn: The Before Now and After Then
This book prompted me to send out my first ever Goodreads Recommendation. I just thought it was such a sweet book, and even though the main character is gay, it's not a book about being gay. It's a coming-of-age story about a boy who finds his person in the wake of a great loss. Loved it.

Kelly Rimmer: Me Without You
A tragic love story, nothing we haven't seen before. This is a dual POV and I had issues with that - from Callum's view, he came across as a self-obsessed nitpicker. From Lilah's, he was sensitive to her feelings and intuitive. It was like there were two different Callums. This book has been compared to Me Before You (<sarcasmfont>sure if you can't draw a comparison to Gone Girl, go for Me Before You, eh?</>sarcasmfont) but it actually reminded me a lot more of the movie Love and Other Drugs. It didn't make me cry, which is unusual considering I can cry at an ad, but anyway. It was okay.

Rachael English: Each and Every One
This was a nice, easy read about the Shine family in modern day, post-recession Dublin. Gus Shine and his wife have been supporting their adult children for most of their lives, digging them out of financial ruts and making sure they have all they need. When Gus makes a series of bad investments, the business is in danger of imploding and Gus decides that it's finally time to cut the apron strings. Some of the Shines deal better than others - it was a good read and there were little surprises here and there. Well written, it would make a nice holiday book.

Paul Gitsham: No Smoke Without Fire
This is the second in a series - I haven't read the first one and it didn't spoil my enjoyment of this, I didn't feel in any way out of the loop. At the beginning, a man is released from prison after serving a long sentence for a string of violent sexual offences. A year later, a young woman is found dead after a brutal assault. DCI Warren Jones and his team are called on to the case and soon realize that they could be dealing with a serial killer. There were lots of red herrings, lots of twists, and it kept me reading to the end. Enjoyable, and also really nice to read about a cop who isn't an alcoholic or estranged from his wife.

Ella Harper: Pieces of You
This was a sad little book. Lucy and Luke are the type of couple others envy - best friends, happily married, and still crazy about each other after 8 years. Sadly, ongoing fertility problems are causing a strain on their marriage - but Lucy is pregnant again and this time the pregnancy is going well. When Luke has a terrible accident and ends up in a coma, a woman Lucy has never met comes to visit him. The woman seems to know a lot about Lucy........and the woman is also pregnant. Through flashbacks from Lucy, we see that the marriage could have been under more strain than either she or Luke were willing to admit. We get POV from Luke's mother Patricia and his sister Nell here too. I could have lived without Nell's, but I understand why it's there. Patricia is trying to hold the whole family together and deal with her own issues too - it's a devastating book in parts but it was a great read. Not mad about the ending.

Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin: A Vision of Fire
Actress Gillian Anderson's debut novel (written with Jeff Rovin, who writes the Tom Clancy spin-off novels, among others) is a real treat for sci-fi fans. Dr. Caitlin O'Hara, adolescent psychiatrist, is called to the UN after the daughter of the Indian Ambassador has a suspected mental breakdown. But as other teenagers in different parts of the world begin to exhibit similar symptoms, is there something powerful and sinister at work? What does it all have to do with the mysterious artifacts being collected by "The Group"? And is Caitlin putting her life at risk to try and save her patient? Loved this, can't wait for the second one in the series. Some parts near the end were ridiculous but it was all really enjoyable and I couldn't put it down.

The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2014, edited by Paula Guran
A collection of 32 stories by horror authors, all published in 2013. As with every anthology, there are going to be a few duds - the ones that didn't enamour me included The Legend of Troop 13 which is essentially just about a lot of over-sexed middle-aged men in unhappy marriages who are on a bus to try and find a group of hot girl scouts that went missing years ago. Ick. Stand-outs were Phosphorous, based on the true story of the Bryant & May matchgirls (but with a really horrific twist), and Dark Gardens - a genuinely scary tale of a man who moves into a house once owned by a magician with a penchant for mannequins. I did a more detailed review on Goodreads here.

On to the books I bought:

E. Lockhart: We Were Liars
This is one I'd been meaning to pick up for a long time. Beachwood Island is inhabited during the summer by the extended Sinclair family. The liars in question are cousins Cadence, Mirren and Johnny, along with Gat, who was taken in by a relation. Cadence is the narrator, and at times she is an unreliable one. She uses strong metaphors to convey her emotions - in the first few pages she states that her father shot her, using the description of being shot as a metaphor for being heartbroken. She talks of 'bleeding' a lot. Cadence has an accident one summer and suffers horrific migraines as a result - she returns back to the island for the first time since the accident and feels that her family aren't being truthful to her. There's a lot done for appearances and show in this book - god forbid the family be made to look bad. It's a strange one, I'm not sure how I felt about it - but it's definitely one I'd recommend and one I will probably re-read. It reminded me a little of the movie The Uninvited.

Heléné Gestern: The People in the Photo
The main character (also called Heléné) is seeking information about an old photograph, and puts an ad in the newspaper. She has one response, from a man named Stephane, and a friendship blossoms. Family secrets are revealed (slooowwwly) and Heléné learns that things are not always as they seem. This book was actually quite sad and melancholy - I suppose the main message was to grab life with both hands. I couldn't connect with either of the main characters, and the addition of photographs would have been nice considering the whole story was built around photography. I found it dragged, but the writer has an amazing skill at describing images.

Annie Lyons: Dear Lizzie
Lizzie has just lost her wonderful sister, Bea, to cancer. She goes to her funeral, and back to the house for the sake of Bea's son and husband. Lizzie left her family home a long time ago after a falling out with her mother - and has no desire to return. After a few jibes from her mother, Lizzie is all set to leave that part of her life behind - until Bea's husband hands her a package. In it are 12 letters, from Bea, with instructions for Lizzie to carry out over the next year. It is a little like P.S. I Love You, but with sisters. And better. As Lizzie tries to build a life for herself, it becomes apparent that Bea was hiding something from Lizzie. Something that affected the course of Lizzie's life, and something Lizzie is unsure if she'll ever be able to forgive her for. This could have been really predictable, but it wasn't. I liked Annie's writing style a lot and will be looking for more of her books.

Stewart Lewis: You Have Seven Messages
I thought this was going to be like a kind of When a Stranger Calls type thing. But it wasn't. It was about an extraordinarily privileged young girl who has lost her mother, but found her mother's cell phone. On the phone are seven voicemails - will they provide clues as to what really happened in the lead-up to her mother's death? This was another eye-roller - the main character takes a couple of photos and by the end of the book she has a meeting with Annie Leibovitz. "I may be fourteen, but I read the New York Times" was one of the opening lines - the character was so overly dramatic. "I blew out the candles on the cake and felt empty inside" - how everyone remembers their FOURTH birthday, I'm sure. There was a bit of an odd atmosphere to it - like a dark undercurrent that never quite bubbled to the surface. Overall I found it more annoying than anything else, but it's my own fault for expecting it to be a mystery.

Eve & Leonora Epstein: X vs. Y - A Culture War, A Love Story
A throwback to the 80s and 90s as seen through the eyes of two sisters 14 years apart in age, this was a joy to read. I covered it more in a blog post here.

Liz Nugent: Unravelling Oliver
This was the August choice for Rick O'Shea's Book Club. It's the tale of Oliver, a wealthy, sucessful Dublin man in his 50s who has just hit his wife so hard that she is in a coma. We get multiple points of view to build a picture of Oliver - a meticulous, calculating sociopath who has destroyed the lives of many of the people he has come into contact with. I didn't enjoy the book, unfortunately. It divided the book club, though - many really enjoyed it and thought it worthy of recommendation, so don't be put off by my opinion.

Jenny Han: To All The Boys I've Love Before
This is a YA book about a 16 year old girl named Lara Jean, who has had crushes on 5 boys. To help her get over them, she has written each of them a letter, never to be seen by them. So it's surprising that she not only puts the letters in envelopes, but addresses them. Can you guess what happens next? Someone posts the letters - and all hell breaks loose. Only, it doesn't. The main character comes off as much younger than 16, and the "fallout" from the letters is fairly mild. Unless you count agreeing to be used by a boy in order to make his ex jealous, or having it off with your sister's boyfriend. I'll be honest - I didn't finish it, nor had I any desire to. Disappointing. I'm not overjoyed that this song has been in my head for the last 6 days, either.

Bonnie Nadzam - Lamb
I added this to an Awesome Books order after I read Lorraine's review. It had been sitting on my kitchen windowsill ever since, until I came across Paula's review. I picked it up yesterday morning and couldn't stop reading it. Tommie (11) and David (54) meet when her friends dare her to walk up to him and ask him for a cigarette. She does, but in order to teach her friends a lesson, David pretends to kidnap Tommie, to show her the dangers of talking to strangers. What if he were a bad man? Lucky he's not a bad man. He drives Tommie home safely. They begin to meet up regularly -  He just wants to be Tommie's friend, to buy her nice things and show her the mountains. Maybe they'll take a trip. Maybe for a week. Or longer. The sense of unease and dread that filled me while reading this is hard to describe - I was on edge the whole time. What didn't happen scared me more than what did. A very unique, disturbing book - but a must-read.

Favourites this month - Lamb, A Vision of Fire, Dear Lizzie, Touched, X vs Y and The Before Now and After Then.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

But...What do you DO all day?


Firstly, I feel like I should tell you that I'm writing this as my 10 month old twins are sitting in their high chairs, eating turkey and peas. They're safe, I'm sitting looking at them. I haven't strapped them into rockers and sat them in front of the telly with two sugar-laden biscuits. My eldest is at his Aunt's house for the weekend. That okay? Grand.

Mary Curtis, head of UTV Ireland, made some very derogatory remarks about Irish stay at home parents in a recent interview about the new channel. Here's the article from the Irish Independent, in which she is quoted as saying of their key demographic:

"It's mainly housewives with a few kids under their belt"

I have three sons. I don't think of any of them as something I'm being scored on - what an odd phrase to use. Raising children isn't a business.

"I don't think any of you guys will be watching, you actually have lives."

This is clarified by journalist Laura Slattery from the Irish Times, who tweeted the following earlier:

Said to be "jokey banter" with the male reporters, I find this horrifically insulting. Mary Curtis herself is a mother who has a high-profile job outside the home, so I absolutely refuse to believe that she was being self derogatory here. They are also claiming that she didn't say housewives, she said housekeepers. Housekeeping IS A JOB, MARY. Do housekeepers have time to sit and watch TV while attending to their duties? As far as I'm aware, housekeepers don't bring their children to work either, so we all know who she is talking about.

"We'll be going after people who have no choice but to stay at home"

Thanks, Mary. Really. I am at home partly by choice, partly by circumstance. I am not sitting here, day in, day out, on my arse, watching Daytime TV while wishing I worked outside the home. What an insulting, disgusting set of comments from a mother. A strong, working woman in a great position of power.

Do you want to know what I do all day? Today was Friday, so I'll tell you.

7am: Woke with a finger stuck up my nose. Had to take one of the twins into the spare room at 4am because he woke crying due to teething.
7:15am: Twin 1 is changed. I put him in his chair and give him a bottle, I can hear Twin 2 awake so I go down and get him, change his nappy and give him a bottle. Brew coffee. Check email while boys are drinking bottles.
7:45am: Put the boys in their playpen and call eldest to go have a shower and pack a bag for his Aunt's house.
8am: Spend the last 15 minutes helping eldest pack bag because he 'can't find' anything. Husband watching boys.
8:05am: Feed dog.
8:10am: Get a quick shower & get dressed.
8:20am: Sort paperwork for car tax, start to get stuff in the car for shopping. Put bags, changing bag, eldest's weekend bag in car.
8:30am: Put a wash on.
8:45am: Dress the babies in day clothes & put them in the car.
9am: Head off to drop eldest at Aunt's house.
9:35am: Go to Aldi. Spend 5 minutes trying to get baby trolley out before have to get staff member to help.
10:15am: Shopping done. Go to motor tax office and Argos to pick up slow cooker.
10:40am: Remember have to get school shirts & sum copies for Monday. Go to Dunnes.
11am: Check twitter while in queue at Dunnes, bit of friendly yapping for a few minutes.
11:30am: Realise that neither husband or I had breakfast so stop at petrol station and get chicken sandwiches.
11:35am: Boys see us eating in car & want some. I abandon my food & get in back to give both boys a bottle and half the chicken from the sandwich.
12pm: Get home, change nappies, put boys in playpen to play & unpack shopping. Husband hangs washing out & leaves.
12:30pm: Put boys down for a nap. Get a cup of coffee.
1pm: One baby won't sleep, keeps standing up and grabbing curtains. I decide to drop his cot to a lower level.
1:30pm: Boys asleep. I wash kitchen floor, and start folding laundry in spare room.
2pm: Start dinner.
2:15pm: Boys awake. Change them, spend some time playing with them.
2:45pm: Check e-mails, goodreads, social media.
3pm: Put bottles in steriliser and wash dishes.
3:25pm: Take clothes in off line & put on racks/radiators inside.
3:45pm: Change dirty nappy, fix late lunch for boys.
4pm: Put boys in high chairs & give them some turkey & peas.
4:15pm: Put fire down.
4:20pm: Make bottles.
4:30pm: Clean kitchen floor & high chairs, fold some more laundry.
5pm: Write this, while stopping to take boys out of chairs & put down for playtime. Husband back, so will sort dinner after this for all of us. He's mowing the lawns and then he has to go see a friend in hospital. I'm trying to dry clothes for the friend. The boys will get a bath after dinner, around 6:30pm, then I'll put them to bed before 7:30. Then I clean the kitchen after whatever food they dropped, wash used bottles & used dinner dishes, and I can usually get sitting around half 9 if one or both babies doesn't throw a wobbler and decide that sleep is for the weak. Throw in the odd dirty nappy throughout the day, and the odd fight I have to break up, and you're pretty much there. I use the night time to read, then I go to bed around 12am. Sometimes during the day I read a chapter or two of a book when I'm eating or having a cup of coffee.

What I'd love to know is - when the FUCK can I sit down to watch some tosser with no teeth being told he's not the Daddy on Daytime TV? When can I sit and watch some posh knob tell ME how to cook a casserole, or how to stretch my budget by bulking out my organic chicken tagine with quinoa or whatever the hell they think we've never heard of out here in stay-at-home land? Maybe they'll give us a nice little kitsch segment where they make an apron from an old coat, or show us how to fold our tea towels.

I haven't time to use the toilet some days. I'm not complaining about it - I love life. I love being home with the boys and I'm very grateful that I'm able to do that. But I'm not happy about being lumped into some sit-on-your-arse category just because I'm not working outside the home right now.

I won't be watching UTV Ireland. I haven't got time, sorry Mary. I'm too busy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Talking 'bout my Generation - Music


I saw Lindsay talk about this book a while ago and I knew I had to read it.

Eve and Leonora Epstein are two sisters, born 14 years apart. Eve is part of Generation X (born mid 60s to late 70s), while Leonora is part of Generation Y (born early 80s to late 90s). I would definitely put myself in that "grey area" in between the two, the people born between 1979 and 1984 who identify with a lot of stuff from both generations. Some of the late 90s stuff seems alien to me - I would have considered the whole Mean Girls age to be a completely different era, but it's easy to forget that time went pretty quick there for a while - Clueless was released a mere 5 years before Mean Girls.

In this book, Eve and Leonora cover chapters on Music, TV, Fashion, Movies, Sex & Dating, Books, and Technology. It's peppered with really good graphics, lists, conversations between the sisters - I loved the Mix Tape lists (definitely identified more with Gen X on that one). I loved this book a lot, you can get it on amazon here.

I thought I'd do some graphics and some lists of my own to show you the kind of stuff that I'd pick as a representation of my generation - I was born in 1983. My husband is very much generation X (born in the 70s) - but we have a huge amount of similar interests. Leonora states in the book - "Generation Y couldn't exist without Generation X because we've (selectively) made their nostalgia our nostalgia." I definitely agree. I also agree with the occurrence of "Fauxstalgia" in Generation Y - we tend to pine for things we've never experienced. I had fond memories of watching Live Aid on TV - I couldn't have watched Live Aid on TV, because I had just turned 2 a month before it aired.

Like a lot of 30 somethings, I've gained a new respect for the nostalgia of the older generations. I understand what it's like to hear a heinous remix of some song you loved when you were 11. I understand what it's like to see a 14 year old wearing the T-shirt of a band she's never even heard of. I understand what it feels like to look a favourite video up on youtube and find the comment section peppered with references to the fact that it was just played in the background of some hipster programme or that you're there because some obscure twitter personality just tweeted about it. But I will never, ever understand how jelly shoes are back.

My music education came courtesy of Dave Fanning or Ruth Scott on 2fm, who introduced me to "alternative" music back in the day (through the radio, obviously). Also deserving credit is the legendary Larry Gogan with his Golden Hour, and the DJs from Atlantic 252. A love of radio from an early age meant that although I could sing every word of every Backstreet Boys song, I still knew who David Bowie and REM were. Atlantic 252 was my favourite, and if you want to listen to some of the jingles from back in the day, here's a great site I found courtesy of DJ Fergal D'Arcy a while ago: Aircheck Downloads.

This is from an actual mix tape that I made. Edit: When I went into the living room to get the cassette tape from the press, two guys from one of those Pawn Shop/Auction programmes that my husband watches were singing "My Generation" by The Who. I had already written the title of this post - I LOVE when shit like that happens. I put this at 1998 given the songs, so welcome to the music world of 16 year old me.....there's no accounting for taste, is there?

There were a few albums (on tape, obviously) that everyone had to have around the time I started to get old enough to buy my own tapes. My favourite thing was to sit in on a Sunday and tape stuff off the radio, but here are the ones I owned on proper tapes. I got my first CD player in 1995 but CDs were still so expensive that I rarely got them, I did have the Five, Titanic & Garbage albums on CD but the rest were all tapes.

It's amazing how even an album title can bring back so much memories - I'm sorry my collection wasn't cooler (1995 in particular was an epic year in albums) but I sang them all to death. Even if I did make up all my own words to most of the Pearl Jam album. Anyone up for a chorus of La Vida Loca in Spanish? No?

I had one other tape - one that became such a favourite that I actually had one of the songs from it in our wedding two years ago (Feels Like Home). It's the quintessential teen tape of the mid-90s - the one I listened to while simultaneously reading the series of books based on the show, dreaming about Pacey Witter and wishing I had Joey Potter's hair.

I'm not going to go on, or I'd be here all day, but I discovered the glorious world of 80s hair bands around this time too and built up a collection of compilation tapes, all with names like Best Driving Songs even though I could just about ride a bicycle, let alone drive. The Britney Spears & N*Sync era followed, then I went through a phase of buying film soundtracks - Edward Scissorhands, Wild Wild West (bought for an Enrique Iglesias song), Back to Titanic. 

In the X vs Y book, one of the girls speculates on the upcoming Generation Z - is this the first generation who will never have to wait for anything? I mean, if you hear a song now all you have to do is google a few lyrics and you can have the MP3 on your phone in seconds. I remember waiting weeks for songs to crop up on the radio, stalking the chart shows and Atlantic 252. Sometimes I'd get the same song on the same tape 2 or 3 times to try and get the "best" version of it. That excitement is all gone now.

I'll shut up, but I'm leaving you with this - potentially my sister and I are the only two people who remember this as clear as day and still sing it word for word, but see if it rings a bell with you. It was on telly morning noon and night around the earth in the late 90's - does anyone else remember it?

Next time - movies!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lancome Star Bronzer in Golden Riviera - Limited Edition Summer 2014


I turned 31 this year, and decided that I really need to get my act together when it comes to skincare and makeup. I tend to go for quantity over quality and end up with lots of stupid novelty things that I never use - never copping on that for the 6 daft things I buy "just to see", I could have one nice basic that I'll use regularly. I'm really trying to build up a small collection of things that I'll get good use from and that will last a long time. Bronzer isn't something I buy very often - my previous one was a He-Shi one that I won on years ago, but when I saw this on Grace's blog in July, the want grew and grew. Lads, I DREAMED about this. I had a dream that I was in a shop and I bought it. I said I'd leave it a few weeks, then see - and yep, I still really wanted it quite badly.

So I bought it.


Part of Lancome's Summer French Riviera Collection, this is a massive compact containing 30g of product. As always with Lancome, the packaging is sturdy and beautiful. This next photo is just to give an idea of how enormous this is - here it is next to a tealight.

The bronzer originally contains a big gold overspray. I don't like overspray on products, I think it's gimmicky and I always use a big brush to get rid of it before first use. I didn't take a picture of the gold (I forgot) but you can see it on Grace's post. Here's what mine looks like now:

You can just about see tiny particles of gold left in it after removing the spray (apart from that massive lump that hasn't come off yet):

It's not a scary bronzer at all - it definitely won't leave pale peeps with bisto stripes on your face and neck. Observe:

I'm wearing it with the only other Lancome product I own at the minute - my HG foundation Teint Idole Ultra 24hr. The bronzer looks fab on my chest too, but nobody needs to see pictures of that.

The French Riviera Collection is Limited Edition, so when it's gone, it's gone - the bronzer has already sold out on the Debenhams website. At the time of writing, it's still available from Arnotts (hurry!) and may be still available on some Lancome counters.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Autumn 2014 Wishlist


I haven't done a wishlist in so long, so I put together some of the things I'd love to get my grubby little mitts on at the moment.

Leather Shoe Boots - €49.99, New Look. 
It's not Autumn until new boots are purchased. Truth be told, there's nothing wrong with the ones I got from New Look last year, but I don't own a pair of ankle or shoe boots and these ones look really nice and simple. Plus, they're wide fit which is great for chunky socks.

Grey Collarless Coat - €64.99, New Look.
A new coat is also a must - and this one is really pretty. I love that it's collarless, it means I could wear a scarf without creating extra bulk around my already stumpy neck.

Dior Pure Poison - from €54, Boots.
I've probably put this on most of my wishlists, but I will eventually repurchase it! It was the first perfume my now-husband ever bought me for Christmas, and it's one of my favourites. It's the ultimate Autumn/Winter comfort perfume.

Ibiza: The Album - £11, Amazon.
If you're a fan of Jenny Greene on 2fm, you NEED THIS. I really want to get it for the first 2 CDs alone (I can do without CD3 and its Calvin Harris-ness) - this is all about the nostalgia. Featuring tracks by Sash!, Robert Miles, BBE, DJ Jean, Binary Finary - this is the soundtrack to my late teens and I need it, now. As soon as I find a digital copy from somewhere other than it*nes, I'm all over it.

Hozier: Hozier - Released on September 22
This is an album I've been waiting patiently for months for, and I'm glad it's almost here. Hozier (real name Andrew Hozier-Byrne, who hails from Bray) has released some fantastic songs over the past few months, and I can't wait to see what else he has in store.

Yankee Candle in Amber Moon - €1.75 - €17.95,
I recently purchased a pack of samplers from Yankee Candles' new Autumn range. I fell in love with this one - Amber Moon. With prices starting from under €2 for the tart, this is something I'll definitely be buying in a larger version. All large jars are €17.95 throughout the month of August on, including new releases. Bargain!

Essie "Dress to Kilt" Collection for Fall 2014 - $3.99 each plus postage on
I'm disgusted with the Halloween nail polish collections this year - OPI have gone with a Peanuts release (because when I think Halloween, I think of Charlie Brown..........not), while China Glaze have lost their minds and gone with the fugliest group of lacquers that I've seen since the Barry M pastel textures. Good old reliable Essie never fail to please - this years Fall collection is full of rich, smooth colours. Particular stand-outs for me include the murky jade green shade Fall In Line and the dark teal shade The Perfect Cover Up. As per, I'll be picking these up from one my favourite eBay sellers, because there's no way in high hell I'll be paying a tenner a pop for these in Boots - the entire collection would cost €60 in a chemist here, whereas it's €31 for all six shades INCLUDING postage from beautyzone2007 here (who I've used several times with no problems - but the polishes are almost always the ones with the thin brush). Baa-aar-gain.

Nutri-Bullet, €120 Brown Thomas or £99 Amazon.
See, this is what happens when you have babies. You end up watching JML direct or QVC at Stupid O'Clock and convincing yourself you need a mop that paints or a saucepan that will never burn. I became obsessed with the Airfryer after watching an infomercial, and it turned out to be one of my best and most-used buys ever - so when I saw the Nutribullet, and similar obsession levels began, I put it straight on the wishlist. Can I afford 120 eurobucks for a blender? No. Will I use it to make kale and beetroot smoothies? No. Do I really, really, really want it? Yes. Will I promise myself I'll clean it properly, immediately after using it, just like the George Foreman, while in reality I'll forget about it and end up scraping bits of food off it? Probably.

What's on your wishlist for Autumn?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre: New Moon


I have often bemoaned the fact that I own very few "good" pieces of makeup. I know that some budget brands are just as good, if not better, than the pricier ones, but sometimes I just need a big splashy treat. This was one of those times. I figured that if I didn't go near Penneys for a few months, I could buy one or two high-end bits instead. So that's what I did.

Given the absence of a Chanel counter in Longford (as far as I'm aware), I took to the Boots Ireland website and had a look at the Illusion d'Ombre shades. Unfortunately, as with every other time I've tried to order from it, my order wouldn't go through and the site crashed. So I clicked on the Brown Thomas website instead and chose the shade New Moon.

Can I just say, Brown Thomas, my GOD you are good. The packaging was just gorgeous, and it was a joy to open. Delivery only took 2 days, and it came by regular post too, which was brilliant.

The little pot contains 4g of product (it's a creamy, bouncy consistency), and comes with a brush. The brush comes in two pieces that you screw together, as seen above. I also dipped it in the pot before I took a photo. Bad blogger.


It's stunning, and  very pigmented. A little goes a long way. I didn't use the brush much - I actually much prefer to apply this with my fingers, but if anyone has a better idea, throw it at me!

Here are a few swatches of it in action, mascara is Essence Lashes Go Wild (my new daytime favourite) and a brown Paese liner.

It's long-lasting, too. The following picture was taken 8 hours after application.

Fellow glasses wearers will empathize with the two indentation marks on my snout...

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre costs €30 from Brown Thomas. Nationwide Standard Delivery costs just €3.50, Express Delivery costs €5.

I fear an obsession may have begun....

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Books I Read in July


Apologies for the lateness of this, August seems to be running away from me. We had to get a new laptop as well, after 8 years the old one finally gave up the ghost, so I'm still trying to transfer pictures and files. Oh, and for the record, I HATE WINDOWS 8. On to the books.

The Booktube-a-thon ran for a week in July - it was an intensive readathon organized through social media. I've already covered the 10 books I read during that week, so I'm not going to include those in this post, but you can read about them here if you want to. I joined Netgalley in July, too - it's a fantastic site that allows you to build a profile and request books to review before they are released. It's completely addictive, but I still have a world of books that I've bought to get through, so I'll mix & match.

Before booktube-a-thon, I read these:

Ava Dellaira: Love Letters to the Dead
Laurel is a teenage girl who has recently lost her sister, May. Laurel idolised her and doesn't know quite how to cope, especially as she knows something about May that she has never told anyone. When her English teacher sets an assignment to write a letter to a dead person, Laurel chooses lots of different celebrities (Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix) and uses her letters to tell them about her life, about her sister, and about the boy who is slowly becoming a big part of her existence. This is a really nice coming-of-age story with a very hopeful message, and it's beautifully written.

Ken Wheaton: Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears (Netgalley)
This was my first request granted on Netgalley, so it's pretty special for that reason alone! Ken Wheaton isn't a writer who I was previously familiar with, but I'll definitely read more by him. This is a story told from the point of view of a 50-year old Louisiana woman who is desperately trying to avoid family drama - until tragedy strikes and she has to return home. I would have read another ten chapters, it surprised me how much I enjoyed this book. If he wrote a series about the main character I would read every single book! It was warm, witty and touching.

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
I keep saying this title to the tone of "Joey and Janice's Day of Fun", but leaving that aside, the premise of this book sounded great - a boy is browsing the shelves of his favourite bookstore and happens upon a red notebook daring him to begin an adventure. The author of the notes, Lily, is a dreamer (and has serious temper issues judging by the screaming and tantrums that regularly crop up). The finder, Dash, is a hipster and really bloody annoyed me. The whole book annoyed me - it was more like a book of questions than a book of dares, and I thought Lily was miles too good for Dash. He reminded me instantly of Jesse Eisenberg, who I am not a fan of, and who I have mixed up with Michael Cera, who played the male lead in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, written by the same authors. Not my cup of tea at all, I was glad to finish it.

Ben Goldacre: Bad Science
Technically I started this way back in April, but I finally finished it in July. It's not the type of book I could sit down and read straight, I had to keep going back a chapter at a time. Ben Goldacre debunks lots of popular treatments and fads, using very funny examples like creating a toxic foot bath for a Barbie. The book was enjoyable, but the one part that had me crying laughing was the one about Dr. Gillian McKeith claiming that
green vegetables have more chlorophyll and oxygenate blood: "Is chlorophyll high in oxygen? No. It helps to make oxygen. In sunlight. And it's pretty dark in your bowels...even if Dr. Gillian McKeith PhD stuck a searchlight right up your bum to prove her point, and your salad began photosynthesizing... you still wouldn't absorb a significant amount of it through your bowel, because your bowel is adapted to absorb food, while your lungs are optimized to absorb oxygen. You do not have gills in your bowels." Brilliant!!

Kate Karyus Quinn - Another Little Piece
I first heard about this on one of Lindsay Hearts Books haul videos, and I immediately wanted to read it. A week before her 18th birthday, Annaliese Gordon is at a party in the woods with lots of other young people. During the party, Annaliese emerges from the woods, covered in blood, runs screaming, and is not seen again...until she turns up halfway across the country, almost a year later, suffering from memory loss. This is not a run-of-the-mill missing person book - I got completely and utterly lost after about 30 pages until I realised that there's a strong Supernatural element at play here (think The Skeleton Key mixed with The Buffy episode The Wish and a dash of teen angst) and Annaliese is not who or what she seems. This is a really unique book, something I hadn't read before, but man - that ending. Still haven't a clue what happened. It's still worth a read, see if you can decipher it and get back to me!

Tawni O'Dell - One of Us (Netgalley)
This book is about Sheridan "Danny" Doyle, who is a forensic psychologist based in Philadelphia. Danny hails from the small mining town of Lost Creek, but has avoided going back there for a long time. When his Grandfather falls ill, Danny returns - and as luck would have it, he discovers a dead body. While he's in Lost Creek, he begins to discover that all he thought he knew about his family is at risk - and there's someone else back in the Creek too, determined to get what's rightfully theirs...I really enjoyed this book, the villian was at times almost cartoon-like in their evilness. This has been compared to Gone Girl but it's nothing like that.

RANT:  I actually wish we could stop comparing every thriller to Gone Girl and every romance to Me Before You. They immediately make me all judgey and I don't like it, it's not fair on the books. This is more than good enough to stand up on its own without having to depend on a Gillian Flynn comparison. And while I'm on that subject, in my humble opinion, Sharp Objects was a million times better than Gone Girl. /RANT.

I read these last three books after the booktube-a-thon.

Katlyn Duncan: This Summer (Netgalley)
Hadley and her friend Lily are determined to spend their last summer before college having fun. They both have jobs at Hadley's Dad's summer camp, and are looking forward to a summer of freedom after Hadley split up with her boyfriend of a year. The only problem is, someone from Hadley's past has returned. How will they deal with seeing each other again after he walked out on her without saying a word more than two years ago? This is geared more towards teenagers, but it was a light summer read and I enjoyed reading a book about a summer camp again. There is one particularly hot scene which surprised me, so I wouldn't be handing this to a 13 or 14 year old, but anyone over 16 would enjoy it.

Mhairi McFarlane: You Had me at Hello
The blurb says - "what if the one that got away came back?" but this is my bugbear with this book - he doesn't just "come back", she practically hunts him down because time and consequences suit her. Even though she rejected him several years before, and he's now married. If you're married, this will irk you. It's not that anyone cheats as such - but the thoughts of someone getting back in contact with a man they were very close to years ago and then practically obsessing over him (immediately condemning his wife to be a bitch, of course) doesn't sit well with me. The same with a husband who is supposedly happily married but has no problem mocking his wife in front of a former University friend or having secret lunch meetings to give dating advice to said "friend". I didn't enjoy it, it dragged (but yet nothing happened) and the two main characters deserved each other because they were both awful.

Karin Slaughter: Cop Town (Netgalley)
This is one of the best books I've read this year, and I'm almost ashamed to say that it's my first Karin Slaughter book. I wrote a separate blog post all about it, because it deserves a post to itself. It's brilliant.

So, that's it! 19 books for July, my favourites were definitely the Karin Slaughter, Ken Wheaton and Virginia Bergin ones. I'm well on my way with my August reads, which include Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent, the first pick for Rick O'Sheas book club. If you want to join, have a look at the facebook group here and get reading!