Tuesday, May 16, 2017

March Reads 2017

So I’m very late writing up my March book reviews but better late than never! March was my Irish Authors reading month. In previous years I’ve tried to read all new-to-me authors but this month I read a mix of new and authors I’ve read before.

March Reads

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

Knights of the Borrowed Dark

So last year I won a bunch of books (which I showed in this post) and amongst those books was Knights of the Borrowed Dark. I’ll admit, I did what any bookworm shouldn’t do, I judged it by it’s cover and put it on my bookcase. But then I started hearing about the book and after seeing Dave Rudden win at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards I decided I was going to take the book off the shelf and give it a go. I waited especially for March as I knew I wanted to kick off the month reading this book.

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan who lives in the rainy west of Ireland. He’s at the age where he’s given up hope that a long lost relative will come and rescue him. That is, until someone come to take him away to meet his aunt in Dublin. On the way there they’re attacked by mysterious shadows and Denizen learns there’s a whole other world full of darkness and evil creatures. He learns of an ancient order of knights who fight to keep the world safe using these special powers that come with a cost. Denizen must decide whether he wants to join this order or not. I really enjoyed reading this, I loved that it’s a fantasy story set in a comtemporary Ireland and enjoyed the world building. It was an exciting read, I flew through reading this as I just couldn’t put it down! It’s full of suspense and mysterious and genuinely funny at times. The book is aimed at early teenagers and they’ll love it, but adults will love it too! If you’re a fan of Artemis Fowl or Darkmouth, then this is for you.

 

The Reckoning by Jane Casey

the reckoning

This is the second book in the Maeve Kerrigan series, featuring the Detective Constable of Irish descent in the London Met. I read the first book, The Burning, back in July and enjoyed it enough to decide to read the rest of the series but somehow just never found the time to pick this one up. So when I was putting together a rough TBR for this month I decided to definitely pick up this book.

In The Reckoning Maeve is tasked with finding a killer who is targeting paedophiles. Without giving anything away, I loved this book! It’s a fantastic thriller, I loved the introduction of the new characters and this book really sets up some events for future books. It gripped me a lot more than The Burning and ignited my desire to just devour more Maeve Kerrigan. So much so that it was the next book I picked up!

 

The Last Girl by Jane Casey

the last girl

In the third Maeve Kerrigan book, the team are investigating a break in at a top London defense attorney’s home which resulted in him being knocked out and his wife and one twin daughter murdered. Only Lydia, the inferior twin daugher, is left untouched. As Maeve digs deeper, all these secrets from an unhappy family come to front. We get a twisted supense filled story, with some added friction thrown in from Maeve’s work life and love life, adding extra dimension to the main plotline. I do enjoy Maeve as a character, she’s not without flaws. And I warmed a bit more to DI Derwent in this book, but at times he infuriates me. I guess though he’s also not perfect!

 

 

Holding by Graham Norton

holding

Set in a fictional village in Cork, the story kicks off when a body is found during a building job. The remains are found at a house that Tommy used to live, a man last seen in the village 20 years ago. Everyone has assumed he’s run off to England after a love triangle has gone wrong. This isn’t a typical crime book, the main focus of the story is the local Garda (policeman) having a shot to do something exicting with his life. The story also looks at the two women linked with Tommy and how their lives has since turned out. We slowly see the story unfurl and discover all sorts of secrets in this sleepy town. I enjoyed this book, there was a lot of hype around it so I wasn’t blown away by it. It’s something quick and cosy to read. At times there were beautiful turns of phrase, I think Graham has a descriptive eye and he really nails the nuances of small rural living. This would be a nice comforting summer read.

 

The Forever Court by Dave Rudden

the forever court

The Forever Court was just as exciting as fun as Knights of the Borrowed Dark. At first I wasn't feeling the second story line that was woven in but I think it'll be interesting for the next book. It definitely made sure the world and story didn't become too stale and added more mystery and dimension. Some questions are still left unanswered and I will be picking up the 3rd book for sure! [NetGalley]

 

 

 

 

American Monsters by Derek Landry

American Monsters

Final book in the Demon Road series, I felt like it was a solid enough ending to the story. The story is very plot driven which was kind of exhausting, I wish there had been more character development to be honest. But as I've stated in previous reviews, I feel like this is something I would have enjoyed more as a teenager as it's great fun and fast paced. Not a bad series, I did enjoy it at times but I think I’m just a little too old for it. [NetGalley]

 

 

 

 

The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey

the stanger you know

Book 4 in the Maeve Kerrigan series. This time three women have been strangled in their homes and with no signs of a break in and neighbours and friends not remembering anything suspicious, Maeve is at a bit of a loss. Until evidence starts to point at DCI Josh Derwent, Maeve’s partner on the squad. We learn more about Derwent’s past and why he’s being linked to these new cases. I flew through this like the previous books and loved reading it. It is possible to pick up any of these books by themselves but I suggest you do start at the begining, especially for this one because it’s best to build up Maeve and Derwent’s relationship and get all the history behind it.

 

The Kill by Jane Casey

the kill

And yet again I couldn’t help go straight to the next Maeve Kerrigan book! This time the police are the targets, so Maeve and the rest of the squad must work fast. I’m growing to like Maeve more, not that I ever disliked her but it’s great to see her progress and grow in confidence. And the slight changes in dynamic with Derwent. This book also has some more of Maeve’s personal life which was a great addition. Much like the other books, I devoured this and loved it.

 

 

 

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

the heart's invisible furies

This was one of the March book picks for The Rick O’Shea Book Club. Not going to lie, I was half paying attention to someone posting about the book on the group and thought I read that it was a short book so I requested it on NetGalley. Only to discover after I was approved that it’s roughly 600 pages long! I probably wouldn’t have read this had I known that beforehand but I’m really really glad I did read this.

We start in 1945 in a church in rural Cork, where the priest makes 16 year old Catherine Goggin stand in front of the congregation and condemned for being a whore. The entire parish is told she is pregnant and the priest casts her out and tells her to leave the village and never return. She goes to Dublin and has her son adopted. The rest of the book spans Cyril’s life all the way to 2015. We see his relationship with his adoptive parents (Cyril Avery is not a real Avery), meeting Julian Woodbead at 7 years old and making a lifelong connection, to struggling with his sexuality in an Ireland where being gay is illegal and dangerous. This book was just amazing! It made me laugh  several times and it made me cry too. Cyril is a complex character, there’s times where I liked him and times where I loathed him but I did always find myself rooting for him. It’s poignant, sweet, a little bit heartbreaking and thought provoking. It’s an emotional roller coaster but one that doesn’t feel like a forced one. The ups and downs of this book seems natural and not exaggerated or forced for the sake of creating a reaction. One of my favourites so far this year. [NetGalley]

 

After the Fire by Jane Casey

after the fire

I finished out the month with the 6th Maeve Kerrigan book. I was up until the early hours of the morning reading this as I found it so gripping! A fire blazing through the top floor of a tower block on Maudling Estate, killing several residents but also controversial right-wing MP Geoff Armstrong. Maudling Estate is the last place Armstrong is expected to turn up, so the investigation must be kept a bit quiet. Everyone looks guilty in this story and so you’re kept guessing as the story twists and turns. This is one of my favourites in the series, the crime plot kept me interested and I loved the more personal side of Maeve in this and the mystery to why she’s acting so weirdly. What a way to round out the month!

 

March Stats

Number of Books Read- 10

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:0

Number of eBooks- 3 (The Forever Court, American Monsters and The Heart’s Invisible Furies)

Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 5 (The Reckoning, The Last Girl, The Stranger You Know, The Kill and After the Fire)

And that was March! I’m happy with what I read, obviously it was Jane Casey heavy and I didn’t plan for that. But I just got so engrossed in the world of Maeve Kerrigan. My only regret is that I didn’t get any non-fiction read.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Dry Brush Nail Art

I was at a wedding last month and decided to not just paint my nails for the event but to do some ~*nail art*~. It’s been a while since I’ve just done my nails, let alone tried some nail art. It’s something I’ve loved in the past but I’ve found it hard to be inspired recently. I decided to try dry brush nail art for the first time in colours that complimented my dress which had flowers of soft pink and peach with some pops of brighter pink and dark green leaves.

black floral dress from Wallis

I bought the dress in Wallis last year, it’s so pretty! They have a lot of similiar things in this year too, they are really liking their floral prints.

 

Dry brush Nails using Catirce Hollywood's Fabulous 40ties The Nude Scene, NYC Lincoln Square Lavender, Maybelline Color Show in Peach Bloom and Vivid Rose and Catrice Emerald Bay nail art

Polishes used

Catrice LE Hollywood’s Fabulous 40ties in The Nude Scene

NYC in Lincoln Square Lavender

Maybelline Color Show in Peach Bloom

Maybelline Color Show in Vivid Rose

Catrice in Emerald Bay

I used two coats of Catrice The Nude Scene, a beautiful nude pink (limited edition, I’ll be so upset when it runs out!) as te base colour. For the dry brush technique, you dip your brush in your secondary colour, brush off most the polish onto a piece of scrap paper and then brush the almost dry brush onto your nails. Repeat with other colours! Now you can just use the brush from the nail polish to do this and it probably would be easier to do that. I used a fan brush so my colour pay off wasn’t that intense. In fact I think this might be a way to do marble nails. As it is my nails reminded me of the hallway walls my dad did in the 90s, I think he dabbed the paint on over the base coat! I would like to do this again with a black base, it make it more like the dress I wore but I like the one above. It was pretty subtle because the colours used were similiar to the base colour.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pink Power Rangers Nail Art

When the Power Rangers first came out, it was instant love. I don’t know why but as a 7 year old I lived for it. I used to get out of bed at 7am to watch it before school. I used to pretend with my cousin we were the Power Rangers and jumped and kicked around the room while acting out scenes. I got banned from watching it for a while because I used to high kick my brother too much!

So with the new movie out today I thought I’d do some nail art. I’m excited and nervous about the movie, I’m not sure if I want to go see it in case it ruins my precious childhood memories! I went through phases of wanting to be the Pink Power Ranger and wanting to be the Yellow Power Ranger. I decided on pink for the nail art though.

Pink Power Ranger Nail Art using 17 Ultimate Shine in Miami and Barry M Nail Art Pen in White

Pink Power Ranger Nail Art using 17 Ultimate Shine in Miami and Barry M Nail Art Pen in White

Polishes Used

Pink- 17 Ultimate Shine in Miami

White- Barry M Nail Art Pen in White

Black- Barry M Hi-Shine Gelly in Black Forest

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lush Haul!

I used to be a massive Lush fan, one of the biggest fans. Though that was mainly when I was in university and there was actually a Lush close to me. I still do enjoy going to Lush though, I maybe not use it as much as I used to but it’s still fun get stuff from there. When I was going to a wedding that was near Lush, I was really excited and made it a priority to go the day after the wedding and picked up some bits and bobs!

Lush Cosmetics Floral Bag

First off, how pretty is this bag?! I don’t know when it was introduced, if it’s just for this spring or if they’ve had different bags for different seasons for a while. The past few times I’ve bought stuff I haven’t got a bag. I love this bag, I don’t want to throw it away! While in Lush I browsed all the new products, there’s a few new things for Easter and for Mother’s Day. I spent a good half an hour or so in there debating what to get, I wanted to get a few things but didn’t want to go absolutely crazy. In the end I settled for four things.

Lush Cosmetics Brazened Honey Face Mask, The Experimenter Bath Bomb, Floating Island Bath Melt, Scrubee Body Butter

Clockwise from top left

Brazened Honey Face Mask is one of the face masks I use most often. It has kaolin clay to help cleanse the skin and tons of other ingredients to help get my skin back on track. I often use it when I feel my skin needs a pick me up.

The Experimenter Bath Bomb is a five colour bath bomb with lustre and popping candy and is scented with vanilla, vetivert and tonka bean. I’ve seen videos of this on Instagram and it’s so beautiful and bright.

Floating Island Bath Melt is popped in the bath and melts to leave your skin feeling nice and soft. This has cocoa butter and shead butter and is scented with sandalwood oil, lemon oil and almond oil.

Scrubee Body Butter has cocoa butter, shea butter and honey to help soften and moisturise your skin but also ground coconut shell and ground almonds to help exfoliate. His stripes become more pronounced as you use him which I’m really looking forward to seeing!

All these products are new to me except Brazened Honey (well, I might have used Floating Island before but only if it came in a gift as I don’t remember ever buying it). As you can tell I like sweet smells, Scrubee just smells so sweet and delicious! I had debated over getting The Experimenter or a bubble bar. I do like bath bombs but part of me thinks it’s so frivolous for something that’s a one off use compared to a bubble bar that would last you a few gos (yeah, I know I can cut a bath bomb in half but it’s tough work!).

Have you used any of these products? Or do you have a different favourite from Lush? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, March 17, 2017

St.Patrick’s Day Nails 2017

Happy St.Patrick’s Day everyone! I bought this glitter nail polish about 11 months ago when shopping with a friend and she thought I’d completely forget about it once Paddy’s Day rolled on by. Luckily I remembered!

St.Patrick's Day green nails Catrice Hugo Moss nail polish with Claire's Accessories Sham-Rock My Heart Paddy's Day

St.Patrick's Day green nails Catrice Hugo Moss nail polish with Claire's Accessories Sham-Rock My Heart Paddy's Day

St.Patrick's Day green nails Catrice Hugo Moss nail polish with Claire's Accessories Sham-Rock My Heart Paddy's Day

Green Polish- Catrice in Hugo Moss

Glitter Top Coat- Claire’s Accessories Nail Polish in Sham-Rock My Heart

The glitter top coat is lots of fun, it’s packed with gold flakies, green hex pieces and two different coloured green shamrocks. It was very awkward though to get the shamrocks, it took a lot of fishing to get them on the brush. I do like it though, next year I think I’ll try putting it over white!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

February 2017 Wrap Up

A brief looksie at what I got up to last month. It was a good enough month, a saw a lot of friends looking back and generally enjoyed myself!

cocktail



Enjoyed- Cocktails! I’m one of my friend’s bridesmaids and I met up with her and the rest of the bridesmaids one weekend. We had a great time trying on our dresses, trialling make up and hair and then going out for nibbles and cocktails. I’m a sucker for cocktails, I love trying new ones. Like this one, which was very creamy and served in a milk bottle!



Relaxed- The following day we went to the spa! We were booked into a mud treatment and then the thermal suites. There was some slight hiccoughs in the day, mainly the fact the water went in the hotel half way through our mud treatment! However everything got sorted and we enjoyed lunch after. It was my 2nd time at a spa, the first time being the Lush Spa back in 2011.

Went- Bowling with a group of friends, the first time in years. I really enjoyed it! I wasn’t that great but I want to go again as it was such fun.

bowling

Socialised- Outside of the above, I spent a few evenings with my other half and our friends watching rugby when the 6 Nations started. And also one evening my fiance went to see some rugby live and after I went to dinner with him and his friends.

Cinema- To see the Lego Batman Movie. I liked it, I laughed a lot but I did enjoy The Lego Movie more. It was fun though. I wish I had gone to the cinema more, it being Oscar season, but the cinema closest to me took Hidden Figures out of screening the week I wanted to go (I swear it was only there 2 weeks!

lego batman

Ate- Pancakes. Well, only on the last day of February as it was Pancake Day. My fiance made crepes which were lovely and at some stage I also had these cinnamon swirl pancakes which I posted a few years ago.

Watched- Riverdale. I went to a friend’s house one Friday planning on watching something but when that didn’t work out we scrolled through Netflix and came across Riverdale and decided to give it a shot. The characters are based off the Archie comics and the series starts with the investigation into a murder. Everyone has something to hide and Riverdale is not as idyllic as it seems. I’m still a few episodes behind but really enjoying it so far.

riverdale

Listened- To RuPaul’s new song Rock It (To the Moon), it as a real Daft Punk vibe and I’m sure I’ll be listening to more RuPaul leading up to the end of March when Drag Race ruturns for Season 9 (Yes, I said ruturns instead of returns, deal with it!)



flamingo mug



Bought- This glorious mug!! I bought it on last day of Febrary so my final purchase for the month. I almost didn’t get it as it was a bit pricey for me but it’s beautiful and I’m glad I did!





Read- All the books I read are in my February Reads post which you can check out here.
And that’s February! And I’m half way through March now, probably should have posted this a bit earlier but better late than never. How was your February? Let me know below!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Recommendations for International Women’s Day #IWD2017

Hello! So today is International Women’s Day and I thought I’d share some book recommendations of inspiring books and authors. I’ve read loads of books that I could talk about but I’m picking a few that have stood out to me.

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists

I read this last June, you can check out my post here. This is based off Chimamanda’s TEDx talk and there’s several reasons I’m chosing this. It’s short, it’s more an essay than a book and it took me no time to read it. It’s too short to hit everything and that’s fine, it’s a good place to start if you want to know more about feminism (especially why ‘feminism’ and not ‘humanism’ or something similar to that). Chimamanda writes eloquently and sharply and I spent most the time reading this nodding along. It’s shortness means it’s really accessible too for teenagers. Which isn’t to say that teenagers don’t read or aren’t big readers, but sometimes a term like ‘feminism’ can be very daunting or seem boring and serious and the length of this book means that it’s easy for all ages to give it a try.

 

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

asking for it louise o neill

Speaking of teenagers, this YA book by Louise O’Neill is such an important book which I read last March. Set in a small town in Ireland, 18 year old Emma goes out drinking one weekend and wakes up the next day outside her house with no recollection about how she got there. It’s then revealed online through videos and pictures that she’s been raped. O’Neill handles the aftermath of this ordeal by showing us how rape culture is rife in our community, the title of the book just shows how easily people dismiss rape and sexual assault. If you’ve ever heard things like ‘well dressed like that she’s just asking for attention’, ‘she sleeps around, she’s such a slut’ or ‘look how much she was drinking, she has no respect for herself, of course that happened’ then that’s part of rape culture. We see all these things in play in the novel, along with how the victim is often blamed and is often thought of as a liar until proven right. Thinking about this book makes me angry about the injustices in the world! And how we should all be more supportive and less judgemental of women overall.

 

I Call Myself a Feminist edited by Victoria Pepe

i call myself a feminist

There are 25 essays in the book, with various accounts of feminism from women under thirty. As with any collection of stories, there’s going to be things that don’t interest you or you disagree with but I still think a collection of stories is a great introduction to the idea of feminism and intersectionality. As a straight white cis-woman, my experiences with feminism is going to be a lot different to other women. There’s a lot of privileges available to me and it’s something I’m aware of and want to educate myself on more. Reading this made me more aware of feminism when it crosses with things like sexuality, race, gender or a mixture of different things. I was aware of these issues individually but reading this book made me more aware of when these things cross over with each other and to be more open to how other people identify with feminism. This also crops up in Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution where Hurley speaks about what it’s like to be a woman within geek culture and writing speculative fiction.

 

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe

Animal Sara Pascoe

On the subject of intersectionality, Sara addresses the issue of this straight off in her book and continues to say it throughout the book. But she doesn’t set out to be ‘the last word in a conversation’. This book approaches so many different aspects of being a woman: physiological, evolultionary, social. It was interesting to hear things like why our bodies have developed the way they have over the years or how our hormones effect us. We get to hear personal anecdotes from Sarah’s life including when she had an abortion. This is such a big issue Ireland at the moment with the Repeal the 8th movement and something that is still seen as a big taboo to talk about. The books covers a lot of serious issues but done with a humouress touch, I laughed out loud several times while reading this. I have a full review here if you want to read more about this book.

 

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

howtobuildagirlcover

So I know most lists like this would probably feature Moran’s How to be a Woman and I toyed with adding that but decided on this fiction book instead. HTBAW is non-fiction and we get Moran’s memoirs and experiences with feminism in that and I enjoyed it but didn’t love it. In How to Build a Girl we get a lot of Moran’s early life as it’s a semi-biographical book, so I felt like their was repetition having read How to Build a Woman. I picked this mainly because it’s a YA novel, one with a chubby, slightly awkward and weird protaganist and because the book had a bit of a bite. I liked that this book wasn’t afraid to be frank about things like poverty, masturbation and UTIs w ithout shame or taboo. I’d recommend this to teens who are trying to work out who they are. This book covers reinventing yourself and how it’s ok to try new things to find out who you want to be.

 

Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel

eat sweat play

This book. THIS BOOK! I only read it in January but it’s still on my mind now. Women and sport aren’t really seen as a big part of society. Sure, women and fitness are but not sport. And even women at the top of their game come under fire. Serena Williams comes to mind, I often see something about her online like her appearance on or off court which is insane considering she’s one of the greatest athletes in the world and there’s not a chance there would be articles on how Andy Murray’s court outfit was distracting. This book highlights things sports and pregnancy, periods and the big taboo that still is, sexism in the industry for competitors but also fans and why girls so often love sports when younger but how to diminishes as we get into secondary school. It’s so well researched, empowering and really accessible to read.

 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl

Another book I read in January (and also another YA book! They’re just so accessible and relatable). Women and girls come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I’ve mentioned a lot of things during this post that apply or could apply to a lot of women like periods and pregnancy but I think it’s worth pointing out that this doesn’t apply to all women. Trans awareness and visability is something that’s so important right now, espcially since there’s big controversies in USA around trans people and bathrooms. If I was Your Girl is not only the story of a trans teenager but is written by a trans woman. We get to see a lot of different issues that a trans woman deals with, I’m sure Russo drew on her own experiences when writing this novel. It’s important to educate ourselves on the different ways people identify as a woman, to embrace these differences and support each other. This novel is a good place to start if you have no previous knowledge or experience with transgender women and it’s something I want to read more about actually.

I could go on and on about books here. There are so many fantastic female authors and illustrators, as well characters in novels and non-fiction books on strong women in all sorts of walks of life. I read mainly women and it’s not a conscious choice for me, I just find I gravitate more towards women. So much can be taken away from a day like International Women’s Day. There’s a lot to be angry about. There’s a lot to be proud about. The positive and the negative emotions are all valid so I’m not going to say ‘concentrate on the positive’. I do however hope that the overwhelming message should be support. Too often women can tear down other women and I just think we should all try to help one another, be kinder to ourselves and to others.

If you have any thoughts on these books or any suggestions for something you love, please leave a comment below and let me know! If I’ve read it, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. And if I haven’t, I’m always looking forward to new recommendations!

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