Sunday, 27 July 2014

Love Me Beauty Box | July 2014

Love Me Beauty Box | £10.00 + P+P* | Link 

It's fair to say I've been feeling a little sorry for myself this week - holidays in the sun are all well and good but returning home is always a bit of a kick in the teeth isn't it? The sunny weather here in the UK has helped to soften the blow slightly, but the main pick-me-up this week has most certainly been the delivery of my Love Me Beauty box.  I couldn't wait to get stuck in to this one - I was really excited when I first saw the menus on offer this month and I have to say, the July Edition (Menu 2) has been a winner for me. Here's the lowdown on what I received this month...


Ofra | Pressed Eyeshadow in 'Bliss' | RRP £8.80
I'll kick off with this month's favourite then, shall I? Ofra isn't a brand I've heard of before and I'm so glad I've been introduced to them because both of their products in this month's box have impressed me considerably. In fact, as soon as I finish tapping away at this post I'll be off to have a nosey at the rest of their range.  'Bliss' is a gorgeous, shimmery antique gold shade - just my cup of tea! I cannot believe how buttery soft this is - I really was so impressed when I first swatched it as the pigment is incredible and it's such a dream to apply.  I recently read Couture Girl's post on this box and she described the colour as being very similar to Mac's 'Woodwinked' - even though I don't own it myself, I can really see the similarities and I'm so excited to own a possible dupe for it. I will definitely be looking in to purchasing more shades from this range - they're even suitable for sensitive eyes too which is a fruity bonus for me as I have ridiculously sensitive peepers!


Ofra | Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in 'Hollywood' | RRP £11.60
Oh my goodness - I was blown away by this product! The formula is lovely and creamy and the pigmentation really is amazing - I tried this out yesterday and I have to say it's incredibly long lasting as well as feeling light on the lips.  The bright fuschia shade is simply stunning and perfect for this time of year - usually, I opt for orangey reds or corals so it's nice to be able to add a bright pink to my collection - it really seems to set off my tan at the minute! Although it wouldn't be my first shade of choice, I'm definitely going to get some wear out of this.


So Susan | Flutter Mascara | £14.95
I was so excited to receive some So Susan products in this month's box. They're a brand I've heard of briefly in the past and I've seen some lovely products feature on blogs over the past few months - so I was super chuffed to have the chance to try them for myself.  Firstly, the packaging is lovely - the gold tubing and little illustration of a bird on the lid is right up my street (pop a bird on something and I'll love it regardless ;)).  The formula is said to be super-black, and help to create curlier, more voluminous lashes in just one coat.  I haven't actually tried this yet but i'm looking forward to giving it a go - the brush is a little smaller than what I'd usually opt for but I can imagine it will work wonders for picking up every single lash (particularly those pesky ones in the inner corners!)


Lashem (2ml Sample) | Lash Enhancing Serum | RRP £40 (3.5ml)
I've always wanted to try a lash enhancing serum so I was really pleased to receive this sample size.  It's quite small - but for the amount you'll actually use i can imagine it will last some time anyway - just enough to give you an idea of whether or not it works for you. I've actually discovered you can use this on brows too - yippee! Any of you who have read my recent brow-related posts might know I'm not the greatest fan of my sparse brows - so I'm definitely going to give this a try on them.  If in a few weeks I'm sporting eyebrows to rival the likes of Cara Delevigne then I'll be sure to let you know... It says that results are noticeable from 2 weeks so I shall keep my fingers crossed!


So Susan | Dual Brow Powder | RRP £11.95
I actually received a brow kit in last month's box so, although I'll never say no to a brow product, I do feel slightly brow-kitted out to the max right now! Nevertheless, I'll definitely put it to some good use and I was actually quite surprised at the softness of these shadows.  I really like the shades as they lean slightly warmer - perfect for my brows at the minute - I always find a slightly warmer tone works better for me when I have a bit of a tan.  Although they aren't as pigmented or long-lasting as other kits such as my much-loved HD Brows palette, this is definitely a great contender. I quite like the packaging and the fact it comes with a little mirror is super handy for on the go touch-ups.


Weleda | Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Body Lotion | RRP £15.95
I was super happy to see this in the box this month! I get through body moisturisers and butters like there's no tomorrow so a full sized Weleda Body Lotion went down a storm with me! This smells lovely and refreshing - it definitely has a citrus hint to it.  It's very light and sinks in really quickly.  I'm moisturising like crazy at the minute whilst I try my hardest to keep my natural tan looking smooth and keep it from fading - so having something light like this to pop on in the morning is just the ticket!

The Teashed | 4am Tea Whole Leaf White Tea | £3.50 (not pictured separately)
I'm such a tea-belly, so having a whole pack of these Teashed tea bags was a very welcome addition to the box this month. They're low in caffiene which is perfect for me as I try and stay away from the stuff whenever I can - these are also said to be beneficial for the skin and are rich in anti-oxidants.

Swatches L-R: Ofra 'Hollywood' / Ofra 'Bliss' / So Susan Dual Brow Powder

So there we have it - this month's box of goodies.  Personally, this has to be up there with my favourite boxes from LoveMeBeauty and I was really happy with the contents this month - there's not a single one in there that I won't use. My favourites have to be the Ofra products! They're amazing! I'm also really excited to get going with the 'Lashem' enhancer.  The July Box is definitely well worth the money - to say that the products in this box are worth well up to £70 if you were to buy them on the high-street, that's not bad going... there's also 5 full-sized products this month! If you fancy trying LoveMeBeauty for yourself if you aren't already subscribed, head on over to their website to find out more.

Which products tickle your fancy this month? Which menu did you choose?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

LOLA Foundation Brush | Cream Contouring Favourite


A while back, I mentioned the fact I'd invested in one of the Nars Matte Multiples and had treated myself to a new makeup brush to use with it: LOLA's Foundation Brush. It's a duo I'd never really have thought to put together, but after speaking with one of the assistants in SpaceNK and realising just how good a cream contour looks when applied with a foundation brush, I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a whirl. It's something a lot of people don't think of  - but I often use brushes for different purposes than what they're actually meant for and I think that many beauty enthusiasts find the exact same once they learn more about application techniques.  LOLA is a brand I've been familiar with in the past after treating myself to a couple of bits in duty free abroad - I was amazed with the quality so when I heard that they'd began to stock their products in M&S in the UK, I was there in a shot.  Honestly - if you haven't had a look at their product range I really recommend popping in for a swatch or two - the blushes are simply amazing (I own one of the powder ones and it's so pigmented it's unreal!) and I'm so intrigued by the range of lipsticks.  After spotting the brush and realising it was extremely similar to the one the MUA in SpaceNK used on me, I decided to treat myself.

The Foundation Brush is soft but densely packed, and has just the right level of flexibility for a cream contour. To apply, I'll simply stipple the brush directly on to the product surface and apply onto the hollows of the cheekbones in small, dabbing/sweeping motions.  Sounds scary - but what's great about this brush is that it doesn't pick up too much product, so it's more or less impossible to apply too much. It's just the right size for getting in all of those nooks and crannys and getting a good bit of sculpt going on.  It fits along the natural line of the cheekbone perfectly and is also really nice to use along the jawline and across the temples. Personally, I haven't actually used this to apply my foundation with yet but the shape of it really is lovely for getting a precise application with a range of products - I bet you could even use this for a cream highlight or blush.  The sleek black handle and storage pouch only add to its appeal for me and for the price, I've been so impressed.  I prefer using this over my brushes that are specifically used for contouring as I find it works much better due to how the bristles are packed.  I use this mostly with my Nars Multiple (review of that here, if you're interested!) and sometimes with my Mac Scultping Creams and I always manage to get a good, precise, flawless looking application every time. Who'd have thought that a standard foundation brush could become such a contouring must-have?!  The brush retails for £14.00 and you can find it, along with the rest of the LOLA range on the M&S website here.

Have you tried anything from the LOLA range? What brushes do you use for cream contour products?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

9 Summer Holiday Lipsticks


You may have heard through the grapevine (the grapevine being my rather chatty Twitter feed) that I'm jetting away this month for a much needed summer vay-cay (in fact, by the time you read this, I'm probably sitting on a beach somewhere, dipping my toes in the sand whilst sipping on a Pina Colada - just sayin').  In true beauty blogger style, I've been rushing around making sure I have all my trusty lotions and potions ready to go. As well as suncream, hair care and the usual holiday related bits and bobs, I've also been rounding up my chosen cosmetics - a task n' a half I'm sure you're all aware. My biggest downfall has to be lipsticks. I kid you not, every single holiday I go on, I must dedicate half of my makeup bag purely to lip products.  I shall hold my hands up and confess I'm the biggest lipstick hoarder ever - whenever it comes to selecting one or two to take away with me, well, let's just say it ain't no easy job.  I'm all in favour of a bit of choice and I'm definitely partial to a bit of colour whenever I jet away so simply throwing in a couple of everyday favourites isn't an option for me.   No surprise then that this year it seems as if I'll be cramming a grand total of 9 lipsticks into my suitcase with me.  There's method in my madness though - I have a colour to suit every mood, every occasion and every level of tan possible...all crucial things to consider. Without further jibberjabber, I shall introduce you to my 'chosen ones'... (oo... sounds very 'final' and important, doesn't it?)


Tanya Burr | Lipgloss in 'Let's Travel the World'
Tanya's lipgloss range is seriously impressive.  After trying the brown/nude shade 'Chic' (also included in this post), I thought I'd treat myself to one of the more brighter options.  It was a toss up between this and a bright pink named 'Exotic Island', but I settled on this beautiful orangey-red shade with an equally appropriate name: 'Let's Travel the World'. It isn't as pigmented as 'Chic' but I bought it to wear on top of my red lipsticks anyway -  I thought it would create a lovely bit of dimension and add an extra bit of 'ooomph' when I decide to opt for a statement lip. I've written a full post on these lipglosses earlier in the week if you fancy an in-depth read up!

Bourjois | Rouge Edition Velvet in 'Hot Pepper'
Again, it was a toss up between bringing this or Mac's infamous 'Lady Danger' - but I decided I'd bring Bourjois' offering along with me as it's much more lightweight on the lips and is ever so slightly brighter - the orange hint will also help emphasise my tan.  It has a matte finish but doesn't feel drying - perfect for a holiday as it packs in all the staying power but doesn't feel uncomfortable over the course of the night. I'm planning on wearing Tanya Burr's gloss over the top as I much prefer a bit of a sheen - together, I can imagine they're going to be my summer holiday dream team! I have a full review of these lipsticks in a past blog post here.


Mac | Cut a Caper
Ok. So clearly I have an obsession with corals and oranges. As soon as summer rolls round I go crazy for lipsticks like this and Mac's 'Cut a Caper' has to be one of my most loved daytime lipsticks.  It's actually a limited edition so I try my hardest not to wear it down too much and I save it for special occasions or days out, but its a gorgeous subtle coral shade with a hint of a pink and a slight sheen.  Wear time isn't the best as it's a Lustre finish, but it's perfect for popping on when you're in a rush as you don't really need a mirror to apply it.  If you can get your mitts on it, I really recommend doing so. I wish they'd make it part of the permanent range - Mac? Take note!

Stargazer | Lipstick in '124'
I was sent this lipstick to review last summer (you can read my post on it here) and I have to say, it surprised me.  I can't say I'm a fan of the packaging - it does feel incredibly cheap and if you're not careful, it's very easy to cut into with the lid, however, the colour is simply amazing. It looks gorgeous with a tan and has a certain 'neon' quality to it that makes it perfect for taking away on holiday.  If you're after a mid-coral shade to really make your tan pop then I recommend this shade - it's a reet bargain, i tells ya!

Mac | Costa Chic
Quite possibly my most favourite summer lipstick of all time. Yep. Big claims right there but it's honestly one of the best lipsticks I've ever used and every single year it manages to top the list of favourite summer products. If you're going to buy one lipstick this summer - make it this one. It's quite a difficult colour to describe but like the Stargazer lipstick, it really does help to bring out a tan. It has a slight frost finish which tends to put some people off, but personally, i think it works in its favour and the pigment is incredible - I'd definitely liken it to some of the 'amplified' formulas from Mac.  It's slightly darker and a little more wearable than the Stargazer lipstick despite how similar they appear on the swatches below.  I can't explain in words how much I love this shade.

Mac | Saigon Summer
This shade is, in my opinion, one of Mac's unsung heroes. I never really hear much about Saigon Summer on blogs - it seems to be the slightly less raved about cousin of Mac's 'Morange'.  The cremesheen formula means that it's much more wearable for the daytime if you're a little bit scared of rocking the orange trend - but it's still very bright and more than pigmented enough to wear in the evening too.  It's definitely a more versatile orange shade to opt for and I really recommend it.  Like Costa Chic, it's also one of my summer favourites and it's actually quite unique - I'm yet to find a cheaper dupe for it.


NYC | Blue Rose
Everybody needs a bright, blue-toned pink in their life, right? Not only do they bring out a tan like no other, they also help to whiten the ol' tegs (a good one to opt for if you'll be taking a lot of photographs). This is one of the closest dupes I've found for Mac's 'Show Orchid' lipstick (I've been lusting after it ever since I first started blogging and still don't have it in my collection - such a crime!) Again, like the Stargazer lipstick, I find the packaging to be a faff and it's not exactly the most luxurious of the bunch, but for the price and the quality of pigmentation, it's well worth it. It has flecks of shimmer in it which help add dimension (without feeling gritty) and the shape of the lipstick means it's quite easy to get a good, even line if you've forgotten to pack your lip liner. It's not for the faint hearted but it's so flattering when worn and it's such a lovely, unique sort of colour.

YSL | Rouge Volupte Perle '114' Sparkling Fuschia'
This is one of those lipsticks that I only really reach for when I've got some colour to my face. Any other time of year and it can have a tendency to wash me out for some reason, but my goodness, just look at how beautiful it is! It's a gorgeous mid-toned pink with flecks of glitter running through it.  The consistency is really soft, smooth and creamy and it gives such a beautiful glossy finish which eliminates the need too apply lip balm beforehand or any gloss over the top.  YSL's 'Rouge Volupte' range is amazing and the pigmentation is always second to none - well worth it if you're after a duty free treat (or two...) I have a feeling this was a limited edition (i might be wrong) but it's one of my favourite summer pinks and I always get compliments on it when I wear it.

Tanya Burr | Lipgloss in 'Chic'
I don't take many nude shades abroad with me as what looks great on day 1 often looks like I've smeared concealer over my lips by day 5 thanks to the melanin kicking in (inner science-geek coming out to play there). As my skin gets darker, I need a nude shade that's going to be versatile and that's exactly what Tanya Burr's 'Chic' is.  It's a gorgeous brown toned nude - really sophisticated and classy - and it's perfect for wearing both on it's own and over the top of other lipsticks.  I paired this with the Stargazer lipstick today to tone down the brightness slightly and it worked a treat.  One of the best buys of the past few months - I've had it on constantly since I got it!  I speak about it a little more in this recent beauty haul and I also wrote a full review on the range in a post earlier this week if you skip back a few days.

Swatches | Top to Bottom | Tanya Burr - Let's Travel the World / Bourjois - Hot Pepper / Mac - Costa Chic / Mac - Cut a Caper / Stargazer - 124 / Mac - Saigon Summer / NYC - Blue Rose / YSL - 114 / Tanya Burr - Chic /

And so there we have it - my chosen holiday lipsticks. To be honest, after looking at the swatches, I really don't need all of those corals and I'll probably manage to narrow it down further - but so far, this is what I've got it down to.  My aim is to get it down to 6 or 7 but I'll let you know how that goes - it's much easier said than done, trust me...

What's your favourite summer lipstick?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Balm | 'Bahama Mama' Bronzer


Aloha! Is it me or does it feel all summery up in here?! There's something about The Balm's 'Bahama Mama' bronzer that makes me feel like adorning a pair of sunglasses, grabbing myself a coconut-y cocktail and setting off in my flip-flops for the nearest beach.  They've certainly nailed it when it comes to quirky, feel-good packaging and although it's not to everybodys taste, it worked like a charm on me and it's the thing that drew me in to trying my first product from the brand (marketer's dream, aren't i?).  I've always heard good things about The Balm - and after my beloved Nars Laguna decided to crumble and wear thin around the edges right before I'm set to jet away on holiday, I thought it was about time I grabbed a new bronzer and 'Bahama Mama' seemed to tick all my boxes.  Although I promised myself I'd save it for my jolly-holidays, I couldn't resist using it straight away (it would take willpower of steel not to what with the glorious weather we've been having) so I thought I'd give you the low-down on exactly why I'm loving it and why it's earned itself a space in my holiday makeup bag...

First off - like I've mentioned above - the packaging was the first thing to lure me in. It isn't exactly the most classy of them all but it earns tip-top marks for being bright, quirky and fun - it definitely lives up to its snappy name!  The design-geek in me can't help but find the decorative sleeve and 'slide-out' mechanism rather satisfying - and since I bought this to take on my travels, it's so handy that Bahama Mama is really thin and compact - they haven't skimped on a mirror either.   Appearances aside, it's actually a really good bronzer.  The pigmentation is amazing and you literally need the smallest sweep of a brush on the surface to pick up colour.  It's definitely on the darker end of the scale when it comes to shade but this is exactly what I was looking for.  Through summer, I do tan quite easily and my skin gets noticeably darker - I wanted something that would still be beneficial to use even if I'm already quite tanned and I also wanted something I could use when I'm paler to use as an all-over bronzer.  This is perfect as it contains virtually no shimmer, has a lovely, natural looking olive undertone and instantly gives that sun-kissed feel.  I've been using it all week at a design event in London and I've had no false tan on - in fact, I've been quite pasty (thanks, lack of sleep!) and this has really helped awaken my complexion and has kept me looking healthy and glowy even if I've felt far from it!  It's not so pigmented that it's difficult to work with - and it also doesn't appear at all orange - so don't let the darker colour scare you off!  I've been using it for all over bronzing as opposed to contouring (although i bet it would work a treat!) and it's so easy to work with - I simply use my Real Techniques Blush brush and work into the temples, outer cheekbones, chin and down the centre of the nose to help give that naturally bronzed look.

One thing that struck me was how similar it actually is to Nars Laguna.  It's maybe ever so slightly less creamy and slightly more matte in finish, but they're undeniably very close when it comes to shade, undertone and overall quality.  I struggle to find anything similar and I often find bronzers far too orange (i'm very fussy with this) but The Balm definitely has that much coveted 'olive' tone to it and it has seriously impressed me. I'd actually say that The Balm's offering is ever so slightly darker compared with Nars - but that's exactly what I was after - it's probably the darkest bronzer I own. If you need something that's going to actually show up on your skin when you have a tan, or similarly give you the appearance of a natural, olive glow then look no further than 'Bahama Mama'. It isn't for everyone and it might have the tendency to look muddy on paler skin, but if you're in the market for trying a good quality, matte bronzer which packs a bit of a punch, then I'd really recommend it.  It's definitely not going to be an all-year-round bronzer if you're wanting something incredibly versatile but I'm in love with it already and I think it's the perfect companion for anybody wanting to enhance their summer tan! It's one of the best bronzers I've used in a long while, that's for sure.


I bought mine from Feel Unique here when they had an offer on. It's currently £13.50 which is pretty good going to say how good the quality and pigmentation is - I reckon it's going to become my 'go to' summer bronzing product from now on. I adore it!

Have you tried 'Bahama Mama'? What's your favourite summer bronzer?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tanya Burr Lipglosses | Review & Swatches


No you're not listening to a broken record - it's just me harping on about Tanya Burr's lip glosses -  again. They've made a few appearances on Bird's Words the past few weeks and I decided it was about time I dedicate a full post to them - it would have been rude not to.  It's not often I'll bother to post about a lip gloss - those of you who've followed me for a while will know that they don't exactly float my boat but Tanya Burr's new range caused quite a stir in the blogging world just recently and, never one to miss out on a good product, I decided to try them for myself.  I was seriously impressed right from the beginning - from the shade names, colour choice and overall appearance.  I suppose you wouldn't expect anything less from Tanya, would you? If anyone's going to hit the nail on the head when it comes to attracting the attention of a beauty blogger - it's her!

I opted for the sophisticated and understated 'Chic' for my first purchase.  It was a challenge and a half trying to choose from the range of shades available but I settled on one I knew I'd get a lot of wear out of.  I'm a big fan of brown-toned nudes and pink hues so it's fair to say that 'Chic' was right up my street! It instantly jumped out at me.  I've been wearing this constantly since I bought it and it looks lovely worn on it's own or worn over a lipstick to add dimension or enhance a matte shade.  As I'm jetting away on holiday (I'm probably sitting on a sun lounger lapping up the rays as we speak - yep - who's an organised little tinker scheduling posts whilst she's away?!) I decided I simply had to try one of the more vibrant shades too. Let's just say I spent a great deal in time in Superdrug that day.  Tanya knows how to get a bright just right doesn't she? ;) (oohhh yes - pulling out the rhymes and all now...)  After much debate, I decided on 'Let's Travel the World' - a gorgeous bright, orangey red.  I'm a big fan of Mac's Lady Danger in the summertime and I just knew it would be the perfect companion for shades like this.  I wasn't wrong.  It isn't quite as opaque in finish as 'Chic', but it certainly still delivers in the pigmentation stakes.  Both of them are definitely comparable to lip lacquers - you could easily wear either of them on their own without the need for anything underneath.

The packaging is definitely another one of the selling points for me.  The sleek tube and nicely sized doe-foot applicator only add to the appeal and the fact that they smell so delicious is just the icing on the cake.... Seriously, they smell so good - like strawberries and cream with a hint of vanilla goodness. Yummy.  Longevity wise, wear time is pretty impressive.  I get much more wear out of these than I do from my lighter lipsticks and lip butters.  The big issue I usually have with glosses would be the consistency, but these ones are just about bearable.  I won't say that they aren't a little sticky - because they do have that slight tacky feel to them - but they don't feel heavy or annoying to wear in the slightest and they glide on so easily and smoothly.  Overall, I have to say it's a big thumbs up from me for Tanya's lip product range.  I can't wait to grab more colours and I'll certainly be expanding my collection in the near future I'm sure.  I have my sights set on 'Exotic Island' next - a gorgeous bright, blue toned pink.  Price-wise, these glosses are fairly reasonable at £6.99 and you'll often find them in with offers for slightly cheaper - you can find the range on Feel Unique here, and also in Superdrug stores or online here.

Have you tried Tanya Burrs range? What's your favourite shade?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

My Top 5 'Sunlounger' Reads | Summer Books


It's a bit of a different post from me this eve'. Although it's no secret that I'm partial to a lipstick and a blush or two, you might also be interested to know that I'm rather fond of dipping in to a good book.  I used to be quite the little bookworm back in the day, and although I don't get chance to read as much as I used to, I always manage to find some quiet time now and again to really immerse myself in the pages of a story plot. I'll let you into a little secret here and tell you that I'm usually a fan of thrillers and crime genres (they fascinate me...as does crime-watch, CSI and all those prison documentaries on TV...) - not at all girly in the slightest but if I'm going to read a book, I prefer the ones that have you gripped from start to finish.  However, when I'm jetting away abroad, I must admit I prefer something a little more lighthearted and summery to read whilst I'm relaxing on my sun lounger.  I thought I'd give you the run-down on a few of my favourites - I know I always like to look through reviews of summer-themed books before I go away on holiday as I'm quite picky about plots and where they're actually set (I'm so fussy!?) If any of you are flying away to sunnier climes this summer, I thought it might give you some inspiration for some pool-side reading.  

Before I crack off, I shall tell you that the two books I have here are very well thumbed through. They have to be my most favourite beach reads ever ever everrrr and it's extremely rare that I read a book twice - let alone multiple times - so it just goes to show how much I really do love them. Sadly, I succumbed to the dark-side of life when the Amazon Kindle was released (let's take a moment to appreciate how ancient mine is...bless it's cotton socks... the old fossil is still going strong!) so I'm afraid I don't have a lot of physical copies - but I thought I'd give you an insight as to what's on there as well.  So sit down, grab a cuppa if you must and have a nosey at what's tip-top of my little summer library...

Out of the Blue | Belinda Jones | Link
This has to be my most favourite beach read.  It's set in Crete (which also happens to be where I'm jetting away to this summer so it's even more appropriate) and it's got everything in there a girl could possibly want from a sunlounger read - sun, sea, dare i say - a bit of sex - (oo-er missus - just don't expect your 50 Shades of Grey talk though - there's none of that funny business in there)  and it's topped off with Belinda Jones' fabulous humour and witty way of writing.   It's the typical storyline really - girl gets fed up of daily life...jets away somewhere sunny and carefree... falls in love with some exotic studmuffin and the rest is history.  Of course, there's a few twists and turns in there and it does keep you reading to find out how things pan out - but for me, it's the way the author writes that keeps me reading. What's great about Belinda Jones' books is that she writes about places she's actually travelled - and you definitely get a sense of realism when you read her stories.  This is my favourite of the bunch but she's also has books set in LA, Italy, Tahiti and Las Vegas to name a few - all perfect books if you want to escape somewhere else for a little while. If you've ever had a cheeky little holiday romance then you'll probably enjoy this one even more - you'll really sympathise with the main character and I think this is why I loved it so much as it wasn't overly unrealistic or 'sickly' for the sake of a bit of hearts and roses - it was very real and believable.  I won't divulge too much of the plot as I don't half ramble on and I also don't want to ruin it, but I've provided links to these books anyway if you fancy having a more in-depth look at them.

Mike Gayle | Wish You Were Here | Link
I picked this up on a whim about 5 years ago on a drive to Tesco to pick up some last minute suncream (crikey...time flies). I'm so glad I took a chance on a new author and it ended up being one of the best holiday books I've ever read (you can tell I was sold on the front cover alone though can't you!? Someone was caught up in the sunshine state of mind!) It's definitely a more quirky read and it's not your typical 'holiday romance' book whatsoever so don't let the predictable title and slightly cheesy cover image fool you - it's filled with witty banter and typical 'laddish' humour but that's exactly why I loved it.  It's not often a book actually makes me 'LOL' but I found myself genuinely giggling and rolling my eyes at this one.  It's basically about a group of blokes at the wrong end of the 18-30 scale who book a last minute trip to Malia (again, set in Crete!) after one member of the group gets ditched by his long-term girlfriend.  They've been a tight-knit group since their school days and they begin to realise they just aren't cut-out for the clubbing scene anymore - it's really quite hilarious in parts. It's definitely got a little bit of romance in there too so don't let the slight 'man-ish' hint put you off - it's actually quite refreshing to read a story like this from a male perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. If you want a beach read without the sickly 'boy meets girl' thing - this one will be a winner. Similarly,  if you loved The Inbetweeners - I guarantee you'll like this one. 

Paige Toon | Various
I thought I'd group Paige Toon's books together as there's a few written by her that I've really enjoyed.  My favourite has to be 'Lucy in the Sky'. She receives a text message right before her 24-hour flight sets off to Australia from a woman claiming to have slept with her fiance, admitting she's been seeing him behind her back.  Straight from the beginning you really do sympathise with the emotional turmoil she's put through when she can't do anything about it whilst she's in the air or find out the truth whilst she's so far away from home. It definitely made me feel frustrated in parts and it's not your typical holiday romance book at all but it certainly makes for a gripping read and you end up trying to figure out the truth alongside her.  Another good one is 'The Longest Holiday' - again, like 'Out of the Blue' by Belinda Jones, it's your typical holiday romance sort of story but this one is set in the Florida Keys. It's somewhat predictable in parts but it's one that I really found myself reading intently and it's great for a quick, easy read. My third favourite has to be 'Pictures of Lily', set in Sydney, Australia.  It's not really a summer book as such - it's more of a 'one that got away' story and you follow her emotional journey of being torn between the man she loves now who has recently proposed and her childhood sweetheart who she's never quite forgotten about. It's probably the most gripping of the 3 if you fancy dipping into something slightly different from the typical beach read.

And so there we have it - my Top 5 Summer reads. I'm definitely one of these people who latches on to an author - if I read and like one book by them, I'll often go through the whole bunch and pick a few favourites. Paige Toon and Belinda Jones have to be my 'go-to' for girly, lighthearted reads because I simply love the way they write.  If you're after a new book to take away with you in your suitcase (or even if you're having a stay-cation and need a dose of summer in your life) it's well worth looking into these ones or downloading a sample onto your Kindle (if you have one).  If you end up reading one of these on your summer holiday - do let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Have you read any of these books? What's your favourite ever beach read?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Monthly Favourites | June


Bit late on the ol' monthly favourites bandwagon but I since I missed it completely last month, I thought it was about time I hopped back on it again.  With a trip to London and a holiday to Greece both happening in quick succession throughout July, it's fair to say I've been a typical blogger storming through the aisles of Boots and beauty counters - 'girl on a mission' game face on and swatches a'plenty up my arms.  My makeup routine has definitely switched up recently - the warmer weather we've been having has led me to try a few new bits and bobs and all of a sudden I seem to have developed a bit of a thing for lipgloss (I'm usually a lipstick girl through and through so this is groundbreaking news)... without further ado, I shall jump right on in. 


Tanya Burr | Lipgloss in 'Chic'
I feel like these lipglosses are appearing quite a lot on my blog just recently - I've currently got about 3 scheduled posts featuring these bad boys but it's for good reason, I promise!  I'm really not a lipgloss girl whatsoever but there's something out Miss Burr's range that has me hooked.  Not only do they smell absolutely delicious (like strawberries and cream) but they're also impressively pigmented and last incredibly well without the dreaded sticky feel.  I wouldn't say they're completely non-sticky, but it's just about bearable for me and as lipglosses go, they're very comfortable to wear and add so much dimension whether worn alone or on top of a lipstick.  My favourite has to be 'Chic' - and it definitely lives up to it's name! It's a beautiful bronwy-pink nude shade - very sophisticated and classy and one that adds definition to the lips.  It's not a shade I see talked about much but if definitely deserves more recognition - for me, its the perfect 'every day' shade and it literally goes with anything.  I wear this on it's own most of the time simply because there's no need to wear anything underneath it - the pigment shows up perfectly and it actually applies more like a lip lacquer. I love this - it's been living in my handbag since the day I bought it and I doubt it's going to come out anytime soon (unless maybe to hop into my suitcase...)


Sinful Colors 'Snow Me White | Barry M in 'Nude' | Leighton Denny Crystal Finish Top Coat
Ok. So these three actually count as 1 favourite - they've become my go-to trio for french manicures of late! Now, back in the day at school, I used to love doing french manicures and I used to spend ages shaping and filing my nails - people used to think I'd had them done professionally! Skip forward a few years and uni work took its toll on my poor talons - I started nibbling away with stresses and strains. However, I managed to kick the habit and have started re-kindling my love for a classic manicure.  The photograph shows one of my first attempts - it isn't at all perfect because I'm waiting for all of them to grow to the same length (come on little finger nail - get yer' skates on!) but I've really enjoyed trying my hand at painting them this way again.  It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing so I didn't plan what colours to use too much but Barry M's 'Nude' is perfect because it's slightly sheer - giving a more natural appearance. Leighton Denny's Crystal Top Coat is one of my newest discoveries and I love it so much - so many people have complimented me on how shiny and glossy my nail polish looks and it's all down to this baby.  Honestly, if you're after a super-shiny top coat look no further!  I'm thinking of doing a tutorial on this once my nails have all grown to the same length and I can shape them properly - so do let me know if this is something you'd be interested in!



Benefit | Hoola Lipgloss
I won't say too much about this one because I've already done a full review along with swatches of it on the lips, but it has to be the most wearable lip gloss I've ever used - hands down.  It feels like a lip balm just with the added benefit of the glossy-ness and is the most comfortable lip gloss I've tried.  It's quite sheer in colour so it works best when worn on top of lipsticks but it really is the bees knees. I love it.  You can read my full review here.

Benefit | Hoola Bronzer
Again, I won't say too much as I've already reviewed this on my blog (you can have a read here).  This bronzer is my new contouring companion and I was seriously wow'ed with it.  The colour is beautiful as it's super natural and gives the illusion of perfectly sculpted cheekbones.  I even loved the brush that comes in the box and I actually use this over any of my 'proper' ones - it's such a good size for sculpting the face and works really well for precise application. It's soft, blendable and really well pigmented and I can honestly see why it receives the praise it gets.


Jane Iredale | Daytime Palette |
Oohhhh my goodness. I'll openly admit now that I didn't really expect to love this as much as I do.  As an avid fan of Urban Decay palettes I was unsure as to what this palette could really offer to me but boy was I mistaken! I've used this daily for the past month or so and I took it to London with me on my 6 day trip.  It really is perfect for travelling with as it has everything you could possibly need for both day and night. I went to a design exhibition and networking event where the days were very long (8-9 one day!) so I wanted my eye shadows to deliver in the longevity stakes.  I was certainly not disappointed and I used every single shade in there - it's going to be the only palette I pack with me to go to Crete this week!  I simply wore the first 2 shades in the daytime (i love the peachy nude one - its so pretty!) and then added a sweep or two of the chocolate brown or touch of black using the little travel brush if I was going out in the evening for a meal or a few drinks.  It's so versatile and is super handy to have in my collection - I really don't know what I'd have done without it this month. It's lightweight, slim and easy to pop into your handbag and the rose-gold packaging tops it off nicely. I have a full review here in case my rambling hasn't convinced you already!


Barry M | Blush in 'Peaches and Cream'
It might look a complete mess but this blush has been my go-to for a healthy, dewy finish this month.  It's a lovely, light coral shade which actually leans more orange as opposed to pink.  It looks lovely at this time of year as it adds a subtle flush of colour to the cheeks without looking too full-on.  The orange tone looks gorgeous if you have a light tan but it would definitely suit paler skin tones more due to the fact it's so light and subtle.  It doesn't show up on me once I have a 'proper' tan so I'll probably be moving on to something a little darker in the next couple of weeks but it's been a firm favourite just recently what with all the early mornings and late nights I've been having.  It contains a dusting of shimmer but it's not overly jam-packed with it - there's just enough to give your cheeks a healthy, dewy glow and it definitely helps to brighten and awaken the skin.


Anastasia | Dip Brow Pomade in 'Blonde'
Again, I won't say too much about this as you probably heard enough about it in my rave review earlier this week (you can read it here).  I will certainly be taking this to Greece with me as the longevity is incredible and it gives such an amazingly professional finish.  If you're jetting off to a warmer environment and want something that's going to stay put - it's well worth looking into this beauty.  Alternatively, if you just fancy trying something a bit different and favour the HDBrows look - I'd seriously recommend it.  It's probably one of the best beauty finds I've ever come across and I will re-purchase in a heartbeat!


Mac | Lip Pencil in 'Spice'
One of my more recent finds.  I've written about it in a post here, so I won't say too much, but it's become my go-to lip colour of the moment. It's a gorgeous deep brown nude shade (oo I do love a good browny-nude don't i?!) and is definitely a nod to the 90s! It's not for everybody but I personally love it and the wear-time is flippin' fantastic! It adds so much definition, is soft and gentle to apply and lasts a good few hours without need for re-application.  I'll definitely be buying more of these pencils in the future - they're perfect to wear on their own or underneath a lipstick - I'm all for a good versatile product!

Swatches L-R | Tanya Burr 'Chic' / Benefit 'Hoola' Gloss / Benefit 'Hoola' Bronzer' / Barry M 'Peaches & Cream / Anastasia Dip Brow - 'Blonde' / Mac Lip Pencil - 'Spice' /

Any of my favourites tickle your fancy this mont?