beauty review

Glossybox Review – July 2016

I know it must have seemed from the last few boxes that the number of negatives had been increasing, and I confess when I first opened this box my heart sank a little but stay tuned for what turned out to be possibly the best item I have ever received.

DSC02006

First glance I was not impressed so I will start with the thing I knew I would not like…

DSC02009

Soft & Gentle Hair Minimise Anti Perspirant

You might wonder why this is top of the dislikes, the reason is simple, every time I use Soft & Gentle I feel like I have been gassed with a talc bomb, I find it powdery, that it often leaves marks and in the interests in fairness I have been using this and cannot say my hair has been minimised. This cannister is huge, okay at £2.99 you want a big can in terms of value but it is a pain to lug round and I just cannot really say I like anything about it, that is not to say others won’t love it but I think Soft & Gentle as a brand is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it, there is no in between.

Next up…

DSC02013

Utan And Tone Nourishing Night Creme

I have to be honest I was skeptical I have tried a couple of these things before and after a day or two you look orange but I have to say I actually quite liked this one, it builds gradually, and I used it for three nights running, then every other night for a few more days, and did not feel like it was going patchy or streaky. At £12.50 it is quite pricey in some respects but if you self tan and want a good quality tan for your face I would certainly consider it, for me I would not use it, as I don’t self tan, well at the minute anyway there is no point having a tanned face with a white body, arms and legs. I am also really rubbish at remembering to always put it it so again, without setting constant reminders I would end up fading before I built colour up, but as I say none of the faults are with the product, that delivered and if I ever start self tanning I would probably buy it.

Next up…

DSC02016

Icona Milano Emotion Allowed Mascara

This is a 50/50 product, on the one hand it did what it said on the tin but on the other it failed to impress. Let’s start with the positive, this is waterproof, I mean out in a downpour waterproof, it lasted really well with minimal smudge, though it also means it is a nightmare to get off.  What lets this down is the actual lash effect, even after a couple of coats it looks like they have hardly been touched, okay they look darker but there is no volume or lengthening effect. At £13.04 this is pretty expensive if you want long, thick lashes and would find yourself needing to double it up with a different mascara, however if you are into sports, want a day time mascara for the beach this would do the job. I will be using mine up wearing it through Winter on wet and snowy days as I head to the day job but I probably won’t buy it again unless I take up serious sports lol

Two left and again it is looking rather disappointing but that is about to change…

DSC02019

 

Blank Canvas F20 Flat Brush

I loved this brush, at £11.95 it is half the price of the Real Techniques brush I have that is almost identical to use. This has synthetic fibres and is so soft to use…

DSC02020I loved the way it looks and felt, and you will also note I use the term in past tense as I was not the only one who loved it and my daughter relieved me of it the first chance she got. It is a make I had not heard of but I loved this so much I am going to leave the link to their web site here so if you want to look at the range of brushes for yourself you can, they even do vegan friendly brushes.

You might be forgiven for thinking you had seen the item I fell in love with but nope here it is…

DSC02010

Hairon De-tangle Brush

There are a lot of these tangle teaser type brushes on the market and I had not been impressed by the look of them…

DSC02012I mean look at it little plastic spikes, nothing special to look at but I swear they are made with fairy dust embedded into the spikes because it goes through your hair like a hot knife through butter. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was my hair is too thin, not tangled enough, so we tried it on my daughters hair, her hair is thick, curls and requires an anaesthetist for someone else to brush it for her. Or it did until we put this on her head and its magic powers caused it to glide through her hair. I cannot believe now that I have been missing out on this for so long, I even considered trying it out on my old lilac wig, though I think that may be beyond sorcery of any description, I cannot recommend this highly enough and may have to buy my daughter her own just to stop this one going walk about.

Now because I am behind I have also tried out the next box and is another mixed box for you too look forward to xxxx

12794799_10205460866067994_2672938746439661555_o

Q & A with Darker Side Signing Author Hemmie Martin

This week I am honoured to be able to share a Q & A session that the very talented Hemmie Martin was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to complete, IMG_0357Hemmie is one of the authors I shall be joining at The Darker Side of Fiction signing event, next year in Peterborough and is and has an impressive array of work under her belt which can be found on Amazon here. For today however she has paused writing and agreed to answer a mix of questions that I hope will both entertain and let us get to know Hemmie a little better, so without further ado…

1) I did consider starting with when did you start writing, but I think most of us started at a fairly young age and carried on until we could string coherent sentences together. So instead I will ask it a different way, when did you realise you had stories you wanted to share with the world?

My English teacher at High school commented that I had written a book over the years about a World War 2 fighter pilot called Hayden Moss, due to using him as a character in every story I had written. I thought then how cool it would be to have a book published, but life took me in a totally different direction, and I didn’t consider this to be a realistic goal until 2004.

2) How did your nearest and dearest feel when you first announced you were publishing a book? Has their reaction changed as you have released more and become more successful?

When I first began writing, my husband thought getting published was a pipe dream, but he saw how happy writing made me, so he continued encouraging me. When I received news from a publisher that they wanted to work with me, my husband and daughters were very excited. I now have seven books published with Winter Goose Publishing, but I’m not sure it impresses my family much anymore. The first book was exciting, now it seems a normal event. In fact, my husband sees it as my job now, so no need for praise! I do wish more was made of my publication day by him (daughters are now at university), but I’ve accepted not to expect too much, or anything at all!

3) Have you ever been in public, maybe on a train or plane and seen anyone reading one of your books? If so had did you react, if not how do you think you would react?

I’ve not had the pleasure – although if someone was reading the kindle version, I wouldn’t know! If I did see someone reading my book I imagine I would feel ecstatic and embarrassed, and definitely far too shy to say anything.

4) Everyone has that one character that when they write him or her they fall in love with, mine is my bad guy from my as yet unpublished trilogy, who is yours and can you tell us a little bit about them?

Mine is DI Eva Wednesday, from my crime series. I originally wrote ‘In the Light of Madness’ as a stand-alone crime novel, but Eva touched me, and I found myself missing her and wanting to get to know her more – hence a four book series, with the next one due in September 2017.

I love the fact that she has an internal anxiety about becoming mentally ill, as her mother suffers with schizoaffective disorder. She has a half-sister who has always dominated Eva in the looks department, hence Scarlett always finds herself in a relationship, yet Eva struggles to even trust a man if he did pass her way.

5) If your books were going to be made into films do you have any ideas in your head who you would like to see play any of your characters?

Ruth Wilson would make a wonderful DI Eva Wednesday, as she has a hidden quality when she acts, that suits Eva’s persona. Ruth Wilson has the ability to be aloof, which Eva comes across as with strangers, and Ruth’s look is how I imagine Eva to be.

Interestingly, I would also cast Ruth Wilson in the part of Lilith Fields in ‘Attic of the Mind’, as she would play the role of a tormented, anorexic, hell-bent on seeking revenge on the charge nurse who abused her whilst she was in a psychiatric hospital, very well. As you may have noticed, I’m a huge fan of Ruth Wilson, since seeing her in ‘Luther’.

6) Now a bit of a silly one, as frequently seen on FB the zombie apocalypse has begun, stick your hands out and tell us which two items you grab and how you are going to use them to fight off the starving hordes.

Jelly babies – I would throw them into their mouths to stave off their need for my flesh.

Cuticle cream – I would smear it along the ground between us so they would slip over.

7) Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release, and as a bonus give us the name of the song that would be the perfect theme music to it?

My latest release is the fourth in the DI Wednesday series, called ‘What Happens After’, where a murder occurs during a Parting Ways weekend in a hotel in Cambridge. Four couples are attempting to divorce amicably, but when one person is found dead, DI Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox are faced with a widow, sparring couples, the group facilitators, and the hotel staff, many of whom appear to hate the victim.

The case strengthens Wednesday’s negative views on marriage, and brings Lennox to a place of reflection as he analyses his past and contemplates his future.

The song would be ‘It’s Too Late’ by Carole King.

8) One of the hardest things to take as an author can be the reviews, have you ever had any negative ones, if so how did you deal with them and what advice would you give to people starting out?

Thus far, the only negative comment I have received said that the denouement of ‘Attic of the Mind’ was a little rushed, and I have to admit, I believe they are right. I was so keen to tie all the loose ends together that I rattled it all out with a rapid intensity, when I could have taken more time over it. It was only my second novel, and I still had – and have – much to learn. I’m aware of the comment in my head each time I write a denouement, so it has served me well.

For authors starting out I would say don’t take negative comments personally, and try to learn from what has been said. It’s important to see what the readers dislike so you can improve future novels.

9) Do you have any writing rituals, for example, I have one author friend who has a bowl of a certain type of sweets on her desk during edits as a reward for hitting her targets, do you have anything you like to have handy during any part of the process?

I always eat jelly beans or jelly babies when writing, but I’m now fearing for my waistline, so I’ve started nibbling on sweet and salty popcorn. Hopefully my body will appreciate the change! I also wear cotton fingerless gloves when I type in the warmer weather, and cashmere ones in the colder months.

10. What is the last sentence you wrote in your current WIP?

A text from Oliver interrupted her reverie.

11. Do you have a secret talent or claim to fame you are willing to share?

I speak fluent French after living in France for six years. In my youth I played the clarinet, classical guitar, and the piano, but I think those skills may be lost in the ether of time. I’ll happily sing Carly Simon songs at Karaoke events, after a couple of drinks!

12. Final question, if you had to choose between writing something really popular and making a fortune or writing a literary masterpiece that was highly acclaimed by academics and critics which would you pick?

I’d like to be able to say the latter, as I somehow think it would reflect a more altruistic side, but in today’s current climate, I would have to say the former. Money may not bring happiness and good health, but it would certainly make life easier in so many ways.  It’s not a dream I cling to though, as so much luck is involved in being discovered.

Many thanks for interviewing me, Paula, I really enjoyed answering your diverse questions. The music question was great fun!

2016-06-25 08.39.27

If you would like to find out more about Hemmie and her books here are the links…

http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/hemmie-martin

http://hemmiemartin.com/

https://www.waterstones.com/books/search/term/hemmie+martin

http://thewritersroom.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/HemmieMartinNovelist

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Book Review – The Legends of Ashildr By Doctor Who Authors

I confess I picked up this book with trepidation bought it I may as well pick it up and give it a go.

26889474

We begin as always with the Goodreads blurb…

“Ten thousand hours is all it takes to master any skill. Twenty thousand, and you’re the best in the world. Over a hundred thousand, and you’re the best there’s ever been.”

Ashildr, a young Viking girl, died helping the Doctor and Clara to save the village she loved. And for her heroism, the Doctor used alien technology to bring her back to life. Ashildr is now immortal — The Woman Who Lived.

Since that day, Ashildr has kept journals to chronicle her extraordinary life. The Legends of Ashildr is a glimpse of some of those stories: the terrors she has faced, the battles she has won, and the treasures she has found.

These are the tales of a woman who lived longer than she should ever have lived — and lost more than she can even remember.

How I wish I could say I liked this book, like the character it had so much potential and fell short. I had hoped the book would provide a mix of stories from the lives lived by Ashildr in between her encounters with the Doctor and to be fair in some ways it does, but where it falls short is in providing a balance between the elements of her nature and does not expand our insight into the character.

In the TV series the Ashildr we encounter with the Doctor is hard and selfish, she talks of the loss and pain which bring her to this point, the stories contained in her journals, so this book had the opportunity to let us see how she become ME but instead it shows only the selfish nature previously displayed. From the very beginning of our on screen encounters we know she is rash and acts without thought for consequences, but we see from this she fails to learn from her actions, repeating the same patterns over and over again.

I had hoped in the third story where we see her in a more vulnerable light in some ways as she loses her children to the plague, we are told these are not the first children she has lost through the years but there is no real sense of anguish there, and I say this as a parent who has watched their baby fight for their life, the fact that she even contemplated leaving them behind to their fates alone makes it even harder to empathise with this character.

I get that years of loss would harden a person but in order for that to be balance we have to share their suffering and so how the change over the years, sadly I was disappointed by both the book and the character and feel that a real opportunity was missed.

So onto the score, and I have to be fair and cannot let me affection for the show influence me so it is 3 out of 5 stars, while there was nothing wrong exactly with any of the individual stories I was left feeling it is not a book I will pick up again.

3 stars

Lazy sunday

Lazy Sunday #18 And An Olympic Hangover

Around 3am I climbed into bed exhausted, while I may not have run 5000km last night, or 800m, or even one leg of the 4 x 400m, physically, let me tell you mentally I ran every single one! I bounced in my seat cheering Team GB on  to what has been our best ever medal haul at an Olympics. For this lazy Sunday I will share a couple of blogs still but I want to talk about sport first.

At school they try to tell you it is the taking part that counts not winning and, to an extent that it true, but once you reach the levels these athletes reach winning means performing to the very best of your ability, we have seen elation and heartbreak, and we have heard athlete after athlete, swimmers, cyclists and representatives from every sport thank the National Lottery who fund many of the projects. I have also seen on FB people complaining the lottery money is being used in this way and that saddens me, it saddens me they are so short sighted they do not understand how the success of a small group of individuals can inspire hundreds of children to decide they want to give a sport a try. We live in a time where schools and councils have sold off playing fields, free sports other than football, cricket and rugby are becoming fewer, and at a time when the world is in such turmoil and hate seems some days to get the upper hand they dismiss the way in which sport bring people together. Maybe this more than any other image sums up to me the lessons are youth can learn from the Olympics, that even in your own quest for success and glory, compassion, camaraderie, and decency bring you just as much respect if not more.

nikki-hamblin-abbey-dagostino-runners-collide-help-rio-olympics-dh6

One of our greatest athletes, Mo Farah was born in another country and there are those who would argue that he should not be here but I guarantee you not one of them feels the same pride in our country as he does, they would not be willing to put in the hard hours, gruelling training sessions to pull on that vest and represent us all, anyone who questions if an immigrant should represent a country only needs to listen to him talk about how much the British shirt means to him.

Sport brings together people from different countries, backgrounds and beliefs together and I think even more so at this games we are seeing a break down of barriers, people challenging taboo subjects…

The last video there features a controversial character because of a medical condition which means her body produces high levels of testosterone, she has had to fight to compete and if you consider her appearance she does indeed appear masculine, but so do some others without any genetic reasons, there is an argument that it gives her an advantage but if that were true she would never have won a silver previously and would all the records, she has proved medically she fits the criteria to compete and that should be enough.

Sport is the one thing that has the potential to bring equality, understanding and friendship between nations, both teams and fans, okay some sports such as football the rivalries get out of hand but think rugby, think of those who cheered Michael Phelps on to his final golds, we should encourage anything that promotes healthy activity, team work and harmony.

So it is evening now, my daughter has been here all day, she was supposed to be going out with a friend but a cancellation saw her show up on my doorstep and we have spent the day watching wrestling and sorting out book shelves, I swear even I wonder at times if there is such a thing as too many books then realise I just need a bigger house and it will all be okay. As it has got so late I am going to just share a couple of blogs then head off to write a book review for tomorrow before watching the closing ceremony in bed…

  1. First up your chance to grab a free book over on Mel’s blog, not only is she a brilliant writer she also designed my Voices cover so I may be biased https://msfowle.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/free-book-giveaway/
  2. I have never been to the Edinburgh Fringe but blogging means you can often live vicariously through others https://annkoplow.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/day-1329-edinburgh-dreams/

Going to hit publish now and get off to bed I really will be back to normal soon I promise, but at least this week I can get back to sleep properly.

 

13686488_1112925032101375_666890404580027320_n

Welcome To The Dark Side

The clock is counting, literally, I have downloaded an app on my desktop that counts down to various events, but the big one is 416 days until the Darker Side of Fiction 2017. You have joined me on the process of publishing my first two short story collection but now it is time for you to join me on a longer journey, one that will see my full length novels sent out into the world, all into the lead up to my first major book signing event. 13769599_1112537118806833_4336781662454501331_n

This journey will see me not only publish more books but also try to get a grip on all the things that go alongside signings and appearances, what swag to give away, what you can sell alongside your books, banners, blogger packs and setting up order forms.  For a lot of people further along in the process a lot of those things will seem like things you should know but I want to share the whole process here and more. I will be doing Q & A sessions with other authors who will be attending the event, most of whom are well versed in making a living from writing and have impressive bodies of work behind them.

mortality-401222_960_720For the next 14 months each Tuesday there will either be some sort of an interview or an update on how things are going, I mentioned previously that one author has been making her own character pop funko’s so I hope I shall get a few lines from her regarding how she found that process, I have ordered a couple of product samples to discuss the promotional stuff available out there, and of course there is a whole issue there with costs, who much do you invest and what can you do DIY. Other things to consider is the table itself, and by that I mean how it is going to look, do you buy display stands, if so what type.

Now obviously, these are not all things I am going to need to do now, some stuff may not even be needed for a first signing but it is all a learning curve and that is what I want to look at, but along the way I hope to pick up some hand tips from other authors that I can share here for anyone else just starting out on the road to self publishing, I am sure I will make mistakes, but if I do I will share those with you here as well, I may even find I have to try to fit in a few extra hours at the day job to fund some of the experiments, but however it goes I know we are heading on a very exciting leg of our journey together.

So if you are ready let us begin our descent into the darker side of fiction, but be careful not to wander from the path…

13442511_10154350136718678_4960573225032395754_o

Lazy sunday

Lazy Sunday #17

This morning I am doing an impression of a zombie, and though I am starting this in the morning I can see it stretching ahead into the afternoon before I make the post coherent enough to hit publish.

Staying up until four this morning made perfect sense at the time. You start watching athletics, then you think I will just watch one more event, then just one more jump. then before you know it. you are only an hour away from the final of the heptathlon with it hanging in the balance for you country’s defending champion. and you think what the hell I may as well watch it, saves catching up in the morning.

Before I start with the post I want to take a minute to send love to two fellow bloggers who are dealing with the harsh realities of life this week, first Veggiewitch who has gone through that painful process this week of losing her mum, and the second is Julie who is facing losing her beloved husband Ants, though the type of loss is different both these incredible women have shared their incredibly powerful experiences of seeing their loved ones deteriorate and battle different forms of dementia. Their strength and compassion is outstanding and though neither of them probably realise it their courage at sharing their stories will be helping so many others dealing with the grief that comes with watching a loved one slip away even before the body gives up. I wish I could reach across the appropriate oceans and give them a hug each but instead I can only send love and cyber hugs.

So on with a few posts for this week…

  1. First up a photo/poetry post from an amazing Irish photographer, I have featured this blog before but especially at times when things are tough I always find the beauty of nature to be soothing, I have written my best poetry sat in the middle of a field with a notebook and pen in hand and these photos make me think of those days, https://nigelborrington.com/2016/08/12/friday-poem-the-valley-and-the-mountain-top/
  2. Next up I am featuring an author who will be at the same signing of me next year in Peterborough, as you all know I don’t write a lot of poetry, my daughter is far more talented in that direction but that does not mean I do not enjoy reading it, this struck me as quite profound, especially if I look around those friends who I love most in real life though I like to believe  https://cameronlincoln.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/tribe-a-poem/

Sorry but due to distractions you only got two today, blame my daughter, she showed up for dinner then insisted we watch a film, we watch Pan and it was actually really good but then I had to catch up on the Olympics so here is the Pan trailer and I will catch you next week with the normal five blog shares xxx

 

beauty review

GlossyBox Review – June 2017

So we are definitely playing catch up so you will be getting one of these a fortnight for the next couple of months, I get annoyed with myself when I get behind but it has been summer holidays, I have published a book and the Olympics are on, so lets get this first one done then I can find the photos I took for the next one and then open the box that just arrived…

DSC01981

So the first thing I noticed was that when I opened this is I was a product short, however I rang them and they sent the missing item plus a bonus item as compensation.

So lets start with the item I was most disappointed by

DSC01990

SPA TO YOU Konjac Sponge

Now this product I went up and down in my feelings towards, it arrived in a pouch and felt a little like a loofah, you open it then add water, a scrub or body wash ,and then use it to buff the skin. So far so good, except when you add the water it feels really strange, a little like holding a wad of cold cooked pasta.

DSC01992The sponge is small and fits in the palm of the hand it even has a little string you can put your fingers through to ensure you hold onto it easier while using it. Because it is so small I found that realistically it was only really any good on the face, to try to scrub your whole body with it would be too much like hard work. Now I have to say once I got used to the feel of it, it actually did work really well however my enjoyment of it was short lived.

This product is not suitable for anyone who shares their bathroom with kids, you know the type of kids who leave things all over the place, I had been careful to hang it up on the shower holder, but the monster had been in the bath and of course had to try it out but instead of hanging it back up he threw it on the side then dumped a wet sponge on top of it. I did not notice until the next evening and by then it was too late, left wet it had, for the want of a better description, melted and had to be binned. At £6.99 it is not expensive but I will not be replacing it on the grounds that I know it would only happen again.

Next up…

DSC01985

LADIVAL Sun Protection SPF 15

I have to be honest this has probably not really had a proper trial, being a Brit our weather is not the best most of the time and as so often happens the sun has shone most when I have been working. But regardless I gave it a try, it goes on well, no smell as such but that is all I can really say, maybe if the sun returns properly I will get chance to try it out more but it is too low a factor to put on the monster it will have to wait until I have time to soak up some rays. However I have to say at £19.99 there are a lot of cheaper options out there so this would have to be pretty special to make me splash out on it.

Next up…

DSC01988

EMITE MAKE UP Lip & Cheek Tint

When I first saw this I was excited, then I saw the word tint and my heart sank. I think the problem is, when I put make up on, I put make up on, I don’t do a like bit of subtle colour and this gives at best a very subtle colour. On the lips it feels like water, and for both lips and cheeks it took a couple of applications before I could see any difference.

DSC01989

It has a nice applicator, and maybe if you used it as a pick me up over other make up, maybe it would do something, but at £12.50, it is a lot of money to pay for something that makes me think of kids play make up.

So far the box has been disappointing but on to the next item…

DSC01986

ORIGINS Drink UP™ Intensive Overnight Mask To Quench Skin’s Thirst

I am not sure they could have made the name for this much longer, but the product itself is rather good. It does have a bit of a smell which is somewhere between floral and chemical but in fact it reminds me a little of certain sun creams but it does work well and at £23 it is not overly expensive compared to other similar products,. and I might consider buying it in the future.

The last item that arrived in the box was a sample…

DSC01984

Aussie Hair Care 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor deep Conditioner

It gives the price at around £1.09 per sachet but I am sure they do this in a bottle for just over £3 which would be better value for money, like the rest of the range this is a great product and is one I have bought and used previously.

So one phone call and a day or two later a package arrives with the missing product…

DSC01994

De Bruyere After Sun  Lotion Monoi

I was eager to try this because I do find that some after sun creams have a bit of an unpleasant smell, especially if you are going out, this has quite a nice floral smell and soaks into the skin really well. I can’t tell you if it really does prolong your tan as I never have one but at £9.98 this would be a nice alternative to the usual aloe vera based ones.

And finally the bonus item…

DSC01997

Collection Lasting Colour Gel Eyeliner

I really appreciated the bonus gift as an apology for the missing item, or I would have had my daughter not walked out of the door with it. I did however manage to get a couple of photos and try applying it before she did so I can review it as well, it comes in a nice little pot with quite a good quality mini brush…

DSC01998I was sent a black one and you can never have too much black eyeliner for my money. It went on well and for the chance I got to try it out did not smudge though I confess I did not apply full eyes or wear it for long enough to swear to that. It is sold at Superdrug for £4.99 though when I looked it up there did appear to be some cheaper on other sites, really good value for money and I might buy it for myself once the gel eyeliner I already own runs low.