Friday, 17 July 2015

Summer Reads 2015

Always the Bridesmaid The Good Girls and Royal Wedding
Always the bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk

Maddie's two best friends are going through some big life changes, Lauren is getting married while Sarah is going through a divorce and Maddie feels caught between the two. Lauren appoints Maddie as her unpaid wedding planner (as well as bridesmaid) and turns into bridezilla. On top of juggling wedding texts at all hours, Maddie is also consoling Sarah through late night drinking sessions as well as working for the biggest promotion in years. During her work at a wedding Maddie meets Will and Tom who compete for her attention. Each chapter begins with an entry into a bridesmaid journal, this diary format and the thoughts of the main character gave it a Bridget Jones feel. As things get worse it's used as a comic contrast from the cheerful tone of the book to how bad things actually are. I enjoyed Maddie's job as an events planner and Shona her boss, is the boss from hell but she isn't portrayed as stereotypically as she could have been which was good. The three main characters are best friends who argue a lot but ultimately they love each other like sisters. Maddie was a bit passive aggressive and although you can empathise with her, it would have been nice to actually see her saying no to people and meaning it. I did like the texts and emails towards the end of the book which acted as a nice epilogue to the story.

The Good Girls by Sara Shepard

Mackenzie, Ava, Julie, Parker and Caitlin are wanted for a murder they didn't commit. Sure, they talked about killing rich bully Nolan Hotchkiss, but it's just a coincidence that Nolan died in exactly the way they planned. Except Nolan wasn't the only one they fantasised about hurting in film class that day. Now someone seems to have found their list and is killing the people on it. Who is really behind these killings? 

This book is the sequel to The Perfectionists, but don't worry if you haven't read the first because Shepard covers everything you need to know in the prologue which serves as an excellent recap. The growing list of murders does sound a little far fetched but possible enough that it could happen, especially as the plot is based on the film And Then There Were None which is where the murder mystery began in film studies. It's very hard to talk about this book without giving away the ending, but the twist at the end makes it better than most of the books Shepard's written. It also reminds me of a Russell Crowe film. The ending ties up almost all the loose ends which is unusual for Sara Shepard The Queen of Cliff-Hangers but is much more satisfying for the reader. Another gripping read from Shepard. 5/5

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Let me start by saying that I love Meg Cabot's books and was really looking forward to reading this book but ultimately I found it disappointing. It was slow, boring and a little predictable. I liked Princess Mia's character, she is kind, level headed, funny and considerate. She's also a hypochondriac, but after 100 pages of worrying and moaning and nothing else happening it became very grating and boring. We do get to see from the perspective of a royal, always needing to be on their best behaviour and that anything they do can be misconstrued by the press and just one photo could ruin their reputation. We also see how the press hound her out of her home. To deal with the stress in her life Mia's doctor tells her to write a gratitude journal recording the things she is thankful for which is why the book is written in a diary format. We also get to see text message conversations between the characters which I liked. The proposal is romantic and Mia and her fiancĂ© Michael make a great team, he handles the stress of dating a royal well and they make a sweet couple. But isn't until 40% through the book that things become more interesting when a family secret comes out, yet nothing really happened about this secret until 60% through the book. The reunion between the parents also happens off stage. I haven't read any of the princess diaries but I think if you are a long time fan that's been dying to see Mia and Michael get married or if you have fond memories of the series and grew up with Mia, you will love this book. For me the pacing was too slow and Mia moans too much. People who aren't die hard fans may not like this book. 2 or 2.5/5

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Disappointing Beauty Products #5

Benetint, Balance Me lip Balm, Limited lip liner, MUA eye primer, Revlon nail polish
However hard you try some products just won't work for you, some won't float your boat and when others don't live up to the hype it can leave you feeling a bit disappointed. Here are my five latest disappointing products.
Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Lip and Cheek Tint
While I know this is a beauty favourite amongst many, it left me feeling a bit 'meh.' I don't know if  I expected too much from this because of the hype this has. It gives a nice natural flush but it doesn't last all day and isn't very pigmented. It's a nice colour on the lips though it doesn't last long after a drink or snack. It just seems very overpriced to me. (Benetint isn't actually bubbly like in the photo. I'd just dropped it so it had been shaken up and down before I took the photo.) You can read my full review here.

Balance Me Lip Salve in Sheer Red
Balance Me claim this "lip plumping intensive salve boosts hydration as well as treating to a sheer veil of gloss and colour." It's also petroleum free which suggests that it might be more moisturising than petroleum (such as Vaseline) which only acts as a barrier between the lips and environment rather than truly moisturising lips. However I did not find this very moisturising or hydrating at all. I also didn't like the peppermint taste but I know that some people may find this refreshing. The colour though, is gorgeous and is much more pigmented than I expected from a tinted lip salve. However I think I was allergic to this since it made my lips really sore and dry especially around the cupid bow for about two weeks, after just one or two uses.
Balance Me Tinted lip salve and Limited lip liner in Nude Swatches
Limited Collection Lip Liner in Nude
I was hoping this would be a great Kylie Jenner lip liner but unfortunately it's very pale. Much paler than it looks, while my lips are somewhat pigmented they're not that dark either. It could be useful as a lip eraser when you want to cancel out your natural lip colour but I'd rather just use foundation. If you have very pale lips this may be for you. However if you're after a Kylie Jenner lip liner, this isn't it. There were some good points though, the pencil is soft and long lasting, especially for under a fiver so it may be worthwhile checking out the other colours in this Marks and Spencer's  range.

MUA Eye Primer
I don't know whether this tube was an old one off the shelf or if it had been left for too long in my stash or whether it was from a bad batch, but I didn't find that it kept my eye shadow on at all and my eye shadow creased. It seems to help in the first hour or two but after that it did absolutely nothing. The eye shadow had half disappeared on my lids whereas Elf s mineral eye primer would leave it looking immaculate after 17 hours! I didn't feel that my eye shadow colours looked more vibrant either, this isn't my main concern but it would be a nice bonus. There also didn't seem to be much product in the tube. I don't know whether this was just a one off or not.
Revlon Neon Nail Polish Duo in Fluorescent 150
These nail polishes are watery and streaky. The idea is that you paint your nails with a white base layer which is supposed to make the fluorescent layer you paint on top 'pop' and look more vibrant. However the streaks and brushstrokes on the white layer show through no matter how good you are at painting your nails, because the formula is so watery. If you're looking for a bright neon polish I'd check out Models Own Nail Polish For Tans collection. You can read the full review of the Revlon Polish here.

What products have you been disappointed by recently?

 Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint and Laugh With Me Lee Lee EDT Review

For Christmas my friend gave me a Benefit set that included The Porefessional primer, They're Real mascara (which I've already reviewed here) as well as Benetint and a sample sized Laugh with me Lee Lee EDT perfume.

Benetint is one of the most well known liquid lip and cheek stains. As you can see it's in a glass bottle and the lid contains a brush applicator similar to a nail polish brush. This makes application really easy and mess free. Benefit say that you should paint three strokes on each check and then use your fingers to blend the blush on the skin. The blush is a pinkish red, Benefit calls it 'rose tinted' and it would suit most skin tones, though I'm not sure if it would show up on black skin tones. I have tanned, olive skin and it shows up on me fine. Once applied the colour reminds me of a Snow White natural rosy blush. Benetint also smells like rosewater but once it's dried on the cheeks you can't the smell anything and my sensitive skin did not react to any of the ingredients. It can be applied to bare skin too. It dries fairly quickly on the skin, but not so quickly that blending is a race against time, and once it's set it won't budge. However I did find that this tended to fade a little towards the end of the day which is disappointing for a stain. You could lock the product in with a similar powder blush if you didn't want to reapply during the day. However it's a small bottle that's not heavy and is packaged in such as way that it would be easy to apply on the go.

On the lips Benetint gives a 'my lips but better' pinky red matte look.You can use the Benetint brush to paint in your lips but I found that this tickled and so I often used a lip brush instead. Benetint can be built up in layers. I would recommend moisturising your lips with a light lip balm to prevent the stain clinging to dry parts and looking like your lips are bleeding. It has a rose flavoured salty taste. If you're lucky it may last through a drink but definitely doesn't last through a snack or a meal. The lasting power is disappointing.
The bottle contains 12.5 ml of product and while you don't need to use much per blush application , if you're using this on both cheek and lips you would get through this fairly quickly. I feel that £24.50 is expensive for how much product you get. Benetint has it's place, it was one of the first liquid blush and lip stains and the packaging is super convenient. However while this does it's job (although the lasting power is sub par in my opinion) I don't feel this is a 'must have', I don't really get the hype around this product. You can buy Benetint at Benefit Cosmetics and Boots.

Laugh With Me Lee Lee EDT 

Laugh With Me Lee Lee is a floral, fruity scent that's light and woody. It's a blend of citrus, jasmine and lily blossom, amber and blonde wood which keeps the scent fresh and not too sweet. I love the smell of Jasmine which you definitely smell in this perfume but it isn't overpowering. Laugh with Me Lee Lee is feminine and light, perfect for daytime, spring and summer evenings. The scent isn't strong so it's great for my asthma but the scent doesn't last all day, I'd say it lasts about 7 or 8 hours so you would need another spritz during the day. On Benefit Cosmetics website they mention that their fragrances are "blendable" allowing you to mix fragrance to suit your mood or occasion, which explains why they are light rather than heavy scents. I really like this scent and would repurchase, the price however is on par with DNKY and more expensive than some of the GHOST perfumes priced at £29.50. Available here at Benefit Cosmetics.

Benefit cosmetics perfumes EDT

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Street Art in Croydon's Arts Quarter Part 2

Rise Gallery has helped to create Croydon's Art Quarter by inviting street artists from around the world to brighten up the streets. The Arts Quarter extends to the surrounding streets that include Park Street, Katherine Street and Park Lane. 

DanK (Park Street)

Dan Kitchener aka DanK is a Street artist, painter, illustrator and animator. I have seen similar urban night -time scenes painted in acrylics in art galleries before but I love that this was done in spray paint. His 'liquid lights' pieces are dynamic and colourful.  He has painted similar pieces in Camden Town as well so if you're in the area check them out. He loves the scale of street graffiti and is inspired by comics, trains, watching the scenery and different moods. He has worked for Sir Paul McCartney, Kylie, Calvin Harris, Il Divo, Carlsberg, MTV, ITV and Ministry Of Sound.

Street Art in Croydon's Art Quarter Part 2
Street Art in Croydon Art's Quarter part 2
Street art in Croydon's Art Quarter part 2
Street Art in Croydon Arts Quarter part 2 
Dan Kitchner Graffiti artist
DanK graffiti artist South London
View from across the street


Aero is a London graffiti artist. His interest in graffiti art started in the mid 90′s, discovering graffiti on his train journeys. There were full colour pieces on track-side walls inspired by the 80's graffiti phenomenon, bringing neglected surroundings to life. He is also involved in youth work, his company Aero Arts facilitate art programmes to help engage young people to be creative and encourage the community to take ownership of redundant spaces around them Below are two animal themed murals- I love the bright colours and imagery.

Park Street

street art in croydon art's quarter part 2

St Georges Walk
Street art in croydon Art's Quarter part 2

Ink Fetish (Park Steet)

Ink Fetish aka Tom Blackford is a London illustrator, muralist and  painter. Ink Fetish refers to the times Blackford used to ink his own Japanese inspired comics when he was younger before he discovered graffiti art. His style consists of colourful cartoon, dream like murals. He has worked for Vanity Fair, Manga Entertainment, Microsoft and Nike.

Street art in Croydon's Art Quarter part 2
SkyHigh (Park Street)

Skyhigh have been running urban art workshops across London and the south east since 2004, promoting graffiti as a positive art form. Skyhigh's style consist of intricate letters and cartoons, though the piece below has elements of realism.  The shark below fits right in with Fio Silva's snake and Aero's Owl on the same street.

street art in Croydon's Art Quarter part 2

  Morgazmik ( Katherine Street)

Morgazmik aka Morgan Davy is a painter, printer and poet from South London. His style combines geometric shapes with "techno-organic free flowing formations of curvaceous-linear marks that are prominent within nature" to "give a free-style colourful abstract outcome."

Street Art in Croydon's Art Quarter Part 2

Eska ( Katherine Street)

Eska is a 3D graffiti artist who is based in London, UK. Originally he is from South Poland.  He is now known worldwide for his curved but sharp 3D graffiti.

Street art in croydon's art quarter part 2

Mr Cenz

Mr Cenz aka Julian Phethean is a London based graffiti artist and youth worker. He discovered graffiti in the 80's through hip hop culture and the book 'Subway Art.' He had his first commission at 11 years old to paint a primary school. After studying art university he qualified as a youth worker and used graffiti art as a tool for challenging behaviour. He set up Positive Arts’ in 1998 to empower and inspire young people through street art, working with local councils, probation services, hospitals, charities, youth centres, and schools. His artwork consists of layers of intricate and flowing letterforms shapes, photorealism and  illustration. His influences include graffiti artists Dondi and Mode 2 to abstract expressionist painters Paul Klee and Roger Hilton. Lately his work concentrates on female faces from portraits and fashion photography abstracted in a dynamic way. I am completely in love with his work which you can see on his website.

Park Lane

Street art in croydon's art croydon part 2

St Georges Walk

Street art in croydon art quarter part 2

Tizer(id) (Park Lane)

Tizerid aka Ed Tizer is a London based graffiti artist, illustrator, experienced youth worker, DJ and owner of Intercity Decorators. He has been involved in graffiti since 1988 and writing as Tizer since 1996. Unfortunately he had to redo this mural after it was ruined by tagging  His original piece was over two walls but when I photographed this there was only one wall remaining but  you can see the full piece here taken by Alex Ellison.

street art in croydon's art quarter

Adam Green (Park Lane)

Adam Green replaced Tizer's mural.Green has used the 1920's art deco building as his influence for his mural. I think the building was a cinema but it's now boarded up. It's a nice touch having the couple on the bottom as it looks like they've just climbed up the stairs to the building. There's also a 70's deco inspired lampshade as the sun.  

Graffiti in croydon arts quarter

Francesco Jacobello- Medusa  (Park Lane )
Francesco Jacobello was born in Militello in Val Di Catania, Sicily. He is influenced by the Italian Classics, but likes to give them " the urban feel of contemporary practices in the present art world." In the mural below he took inspiration from Greek Mythology for his modern day Medusa.

Street art in croydon part 2

Monday, 6 July 2015

The Netflix Tag

Picture Credit Wikimedia commons Changes made

This tag was created by Annie Writes Beauty (though I first spotted it on Becka Sheperd's blog and Flutter and Sparkle)  I'd thought I'd share my answers and hope you enjoy it!

1. All Time Favourite

So far I've watched Lie To Me, Once Upon A Time and Sense and Sensibility, but my favourite TV series has got to be Pretty Little Liars. PLL begins with the disappearance of queen bee Alison Dilaurentis. Her friends Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily soon become the target of threatening texts and blackmail over their innermost secrets. These texts and the scary situations the girls find themselves in are masterminded by someone called A, but they've yet to work out who A actually is.
As for my favourite films I couldn't find any available on Netflix right now but my favourites include Dirty Dancing 2 Havana nights, Singin in the Rain, A Room With A View, The Motorcycle Diaries and Step Up 4.

2. Currently Watching and Current Addiction

My current addiction is definitely Prison Break. The show begins with Lincoln Burrows being framed for murder by a group known as The Company. His brother Michael Schofield is determined to break him out of prison. It then becomes a game of cat and mouse between The Company and the brothers. It's addictive because they always finish each episode on such great cliff hangers. I'm also watching Charmed and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries which is a detective drama set in Australia during the twenties- it's a little like Poirot.

3. On your wish list

It would have to be Hart of Dixie, the first two seasons were shown on the UK Really channel but then they dropped it despite the show running for four seasons in the U.S. Hart of Dixie is about Zoe Hart (played by Rachel Bilson) a New York surgeon who is told to improve her beside manner. When she relocates to small town Bluebell in Alabama to be a family doctor, it's definitely is a learning curve for her. Sweet but entertaining rom com I really liked this show. Also I haven't seen all the series of Smallville the show about Superman's teenage years that stars Tom Welling. Also I wouldn't mind seeing Round The Twist or Alex Mac just to reminisce about my childhood!

4. Net Peeve

The US packages also include dvds and they get much wider choice and see shows earlier than in the UK which is annoying. The main problem, though it hasn't happened to me yet, is watching a series and then it's taken off before you've finished watching them all, because the licence for that show has expired.

5. Marathon Essentials

A duvet or sofa and I would say chocolate (like black it goes with everything) but am trying not to eat sweet things at the moment.

6. You Should Watch

Lie to Me, a friend recommended this and I really liked it. It's about Cal Lightman a body language and deception expert. His company The Lightman Group are hired in various situations such as finding out if a criminal has truly reformed, investigating cover ups, identifying terrorists and murderers. Great acting, storylines and I liked the relationships between Cal and his daughter Emily and business Partner Dr Gillian Foster. Another show I would recommend is Sherlock, the BBC has successfully brought Sherlock into the modern age of mobiles, twitter and nicotine patches. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect as the socially awkward genius Sherlock Holmes.

Further recommendations: If you like period dramas I'd recommend Mr Selfridge and The Paradise. I'd also recommend Gossip Girl and Revenge.

What I love about Netflix...
  • It's affordable entertainment that costs less per month than the price of one ticket to the cinema.
  • It's given me an appreciation for black and white films. I had watched a few black and white films before but not many. After watching Hitchcock's Rear Window, Vertigo and The Lady Vanishes on Netflix I liked them so much I decide that one of my goals is to watch all of his films- all 50 of them! It gave me a taste of film noir when I watched Sorry Wrong Number, Double Indemnity and No Man Of Her Own. Film Noir was featured  a lot in my favourite show Pretty Little Liars but I never really connected with it apart from the episode where all the characters were in a Film Noir of their own. I also loved the dialogue in His Girl Friday which is about a man called Walter Burns a newspaper editor who finds out his ex-wife and former staff reporter Hildy, is about to marry a boring insurance man and he tries everything to get her back. Hildy is rather like Lois Lane the unstoppable journalist in Superman and the two stars have great chemistry and although I to use the expression have 'great banter' together.
  • Foreign Language TV shows. I don't mind films with subtitles so many of them have been my favourites at one time of another (Amelie, The Motorcycle Diaries, Spirited Away.)  But I never really got an opportunity to watch foreign language TV shows until I subbed to Netflix. I've been loving their Spanish shows, the stand out, binge watch shows include Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls), The Grand Hotel and Ingobernable. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

What I've been up to and June Favourites

It's a little late but here are my June favourites.
I've been taking part in the Finish 4 by 4th July project and I chose these Clinique Chubby Sticks in Woppin' Watermelon and Super Strawberry to use up. I reviewed them last summer and although I found them comfortable to wear I did feel they were overpriced. However I stopped using Vaseline on my lips because I suspected they might be causing spots around my lips so I've been reaching for these and I absolutely love them! I also love Make Up Revolution The One Fluid Blusher in Desire it's a lovely Snow White natural blush it's just a little messy to use as I'm still experimenting with which brushes to use to apply it. I've been using Bourjois Volume 1 second mascara which took a little getting used to but it's a good all rounder. The full review will be up soon. I've also been wearing Ghost Eclipse which smells just like summer in a bottle-fresh sweet and fruity. I've just realised my favourites looks like an empties post, lol!

I've also been enjoying BBC's The Syndicate, a drama about a group of people who win the lottery and how it affects them. In this series the staff at a crumbling Hazelwood Manor estate win the lottery and suddenly end up with more money than the family who own the estate. Lady Hazelwood wants to sell the estate and live elsewhere but Lord Hazelwood sees it as his heritage and loves the place and refuses to move. Then he finds out some the paintings in the house have been replaced with forgeries and that the originals have been sold secretly behind his back. He suspects his son in law Spencer. Add to that one of the staff, a girl called Amy has gone missing and is presumed dead. The Syndicate always has a great cast and is consistently a high quality British drama. I'm impressed with Lenny Henry's performance , I haven't seen him playing a straight role before and he plays Godfrey who has Asperger's syndrome, obsessed with numbers, hates change and not socially aware, very sensitively. If you're not in the UK look it up on iTunes.

I've also been watching Channel 4's Amazing Spaces Shed of The Year, where people enter the shed that they've built. It doesn't sound exciting but it's amazing to see what people have built- an owl shaped hut on the beach, a shed-boat that sails down the river and a posh tree house among others.

I'm so happy that Pretty Little Liars is back, especially at the same time as it airs in the U.S. Hopefully we will finally get some answers over who exactly A or Charles Dilaurentis actually is and why they are targeting high school friends Aria, Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Alison. The time jump of 3-4 years in the future will also be interesting to watch! I think all the actors will be happy to be playing characters nearer their own age as well as they have been playing high school teenagers for the last 6 years!

I also went to see The London Russian Ballet School perform locally which was fantastic. I'm currently enjoying the heat wave here in the UK- Summer's here yay!
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