Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Book Review: The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye




Title: The Waiting Room
Published: 27 June 2014
Publisher:  
Author: Alysha Kaye
Twitter: @alyshakaye7
Blog/website: alyshakaye.com

Synopsis 

Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other souls who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those souls, Jude’s name is never called by the mysterious “receptionist”. He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He’s waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? The Waiting Room is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualization, of waiting.

Review 


For my bedtime reading tonight, I've gone with a sample of Alysha Kaye's The Waiting Room.

Whilst I've only read chapter one, I'm already intrigued. I must first admit that this is not my usual genre of choice and, in fact, I tend to actively avoid tales of death and sadness, however Ms Kaye's debut novel takes a unique look into death and the afterlife. The manner in which the first chapter is written seems quite  matter-of-fact, rather than trying too hard to render the reader into a tearful sobbing mess, which was what I feared when I first read the synopsis. Stories dealing with death and loss can become overly-sentimental, however Ms Kaye seems to have neatly avoided this pitfall throughout the first chapter. Although given the subject matter, I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities for me to shed a tear or two before I reach the end of the story. 

The book is released in electronic format and is currently priced at £2.44 on Amazon UK. I am looking forward to reading the remainder of this story and seeing in which direction it leads. 


post signature

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Waitrose Ginger and Dark Chocolate Popcorn



In general I am not a big popcorn fan, however Waitrose Ginger and Dark Chocolate Popcorn is my new favourite snack. It's sweet, spicy and totally moreish!

At £1.59 for a 100g bag (reduced down to £1.19 per bag at date of purchase), this item does not break the bank. The bag initially seemed quite small, however due to the sweetness and flavour I was unable to eat it in the same quantity as a packet of crisps and it took me 3 different attempts to work my way through a relatively small amount.

The bag describes the popcorn as luxurious and warming, two adjectives with which I wholeheartedly agree. To me, it is more of a winter snack, great with an accompanying cup of tea or coffee. I fully intend to stockpile numerous bags of this in time for the Christmas holidays.

Let me know if you have tried it! Do you love it as much as I do?
post signature

Saturday, 23 August 2014

NUXE BODY Body-Contouring Oil for Infiltrated Cellulite



Good morning all!

I've just found NUXE BODY Body-Contouring Oil for Infiltrated Cellulite on sale at Marks & Spencers reduced down to £14. That's an amazing discount on the usual £23!

I have never tried this product before and they recommenduusing twice a day for 28 days. I'm going to give it a go!

My initial thought was that it's fortunately not as greasy/oily as I imagined and I can still manage to slip my jeans on after using it! In addition, I love the smell of the oil, a herbal minty kind of fragrance! The only warms nicely in my hands and washes off my hands easily afterwards.

Has anyone else tried this? I'd be interested to hear if it worked for you.

post signature

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator




I received a trial sized tube of Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator in my August Birchbox and I have used it 3-4 times this week. 

The website provides the following description of this product:

"Dramatically improve your skin’s texture to reveal softer, brighter and younger looking skin! Brightens with powerful papaya enzymes to give radiance, exfoliates with dermatologist grade micro-crystals and gently cleanses with aloe vera, coconut and panthenol.

Triple Action Formula:
1. Powerful papaya enzymes break down dead skin cells to help progressively smooth your skin’s surface and uncover a healthy radiant glow.
2. Dermatologist-grade Microderm Crystals at 25%, work to stimulate and exfoliate your skin to help smooth and reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and blemishes. Many dermatologists use these same crystals for their microdermabrasion treatments.
3. Aloe vera, coconut, panthenol along with a mild cleansing gel keeps your skin hydrated and refreshed and helps soothe the skin during the exfoliation process"

Unlike some other reviews that I have read, I don't find the scrub particles to be too harsh.  I think it has just the right level of abrasiveness for me and my skin is feeling incredibly soft and smooth after trialing it for several days.  .  

The only possible downside is that my skin seems to be particularly dry this week, however that could well be due to the change  in weather/temperature rather than to this product. 

At £26 for a full sized tube (price taken from Amazon), the price tag is on the steep side however I might well treat myself to a the now and again if I find it on sale. 


post signature

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Book Review: The Wedding Diary by Margaret James



Title: The Wedding Diary
Published: 5 December 2013
Publisher: Choc Lit
Author: Margaret James 

Synopsis

Where's a Fairy Godmother when you need one? If you won a fairy-tale wedding in a luxury hotel, you'd be delighted - right? But what if you didn't have anyone to marry? Cat Aston did have a fiance, but now it looks like her Prince Charming has done a runner. Adam Lawley was left devastated when his girlfriend turned down his heartfelt proposal. He's made a vow never to fall in love again. So - when Cat and Adam meet, they shouldn't even consider falling in love. After all, they're both broken hearted. But for some reason they can't stop thinking about each other. Is this their second chance for happiness, or are some things just too good to be true?

Review 

This book falls under the new(ish) genre of 'Choc Lit'. Choc Lit is an independent publisher, specialising in women’s romantic fiction, where  the story is always told partially from the hero’s point of view. 

In an interview with lovereading.co.uk, the author, Margaret James, describes the book as "a contemporary romantic comedy starring a feisty Cinderella, a gorgeous Prince Charming and a terrifying Fairy Godmother who seriously frightened me."  

I really enjoyed this book and read it over the space of about 5 hours today. Despite the difficulties and  misunderstandings encountered by the likeable characters, this was a thoroughly charming and happy read, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon or a day at the beach.  

I immediately warmed to the characters. The main characters central to the love story are Cat, an immediately likeable heroine with a warm and friendly personality, and Adam, a real gentleman with a caring and generous nature. The burgeoning relationship between them is delightful. The story is prevented from becoming overly saccharine by the eeccentricssecondary cast who add some real humour and character to the story. Fanny is particularly memorable and was possibly my favourite character. 

Even the locations used in this tale are beautiful and romantic settings.

If I were to be critical, it would be that the outcome was predictable and that the reason for the protaganists last big disagreement smacked of hypocracy, a trait which I would not necessarily link to Cat. However, I understand that in order to move the plot forwards, there will sometimes be certain situations which may not be entirely true-to-life. At least in this case, it was not beyond the bounds of what is believable.

Overall, The Wedding Diary is a lovely uplifting tale of love, romance and a little bit of well-placed humour. I would recommend this to any lovers of romances/chick lit.

post signature

Thursday, 14 August 2014

August's Wish List

We are slowly approaching my end of September birthday and, as such, I've started to keep an eye out for things to add to my birthday list (my husband likes to have a few ideas to hand). Here's a few things that have caught my eye so far this month.

Roger & Gallet - Fleur de Figeur Range



I just LOVE the fragrance of Roger & Gallet's Fleur de Figeur range! It is beautifully sweet and fruity but not overly cloying. To me it feels feminine and summery. This may well be my new summer scent.

L'Oréal - Superliner Gel Intenza in Pure Black £9.99 (as recommended by @haysparkle1 via
www.haysparkle.com)


I've not yet got the hang of gel or liquid liner, however I am keen to give it another go after and I have been recommended to try L'Oréal Superliner Gel Intenza for easy application and great staying power. I hope to give this a try sometime soon!


Whittard's Nepal Glass Teapot and Glass Teapot Warmer

 

I love my tea, especially on a cold day. On visiting London recently I got caught out by torrential rain and had to seek sanctuary in Covent Garden until the rain stopped. Whilst killing time, I wandered into the ground floor of Whittard where I was delighted to find a selection of hot teas for visitors to sample. I don't use a teapot at home because I like my tea to be mouth-burningly hot rather than lukewarm. I was very surprised to find that these teapots and warmers where hugely effective and all the teas I tried remained pleasantly hot. These are definitely being added to my birthday list.


Kindle Books




We'll be away for my birthday and there's nothing better that relaxing on the beach and catching up with some holiday reading.

I particularly want to try: Robert Galbraith - The Silkworm, Fiona Walker - The Country Escape and Liliana Hart - Whiskey Sour

I think that's a sufficiently varied selection for a week long beach holiday.

And so ends my August wishlist, although I'm sure the list will become significantly longer by next month!
post signature

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Discount Codes & Offers - 13th August 2014

I love to save money and I am always on the look out for special offers and voucher codes. If I come across any good ones, I'll be sharing them with my readers.

Please let me know if any of the codes do not work or are now expired. Alternatively, if you know of any good offers, send them my way and I'll add them to my list.

Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee that the codes work or what items may/may not be included in the offer. Check the terms and conditions of any offer with the relevant store/website if you are unsure.

Today's Deals

Three course meal for one at Jamie's Italian for £20 via Amazon Local valid until 31st August 2014.

33% off Rogers & Gallet products at Escentual

Web exclusive - £5 off at Asda when you spend over £40. Limited to new users of Asda's online grocery shop. Enter code AFCC4752 at the checkout. Code valid until Monday 1st September.

Free microchipping for dogs (usually £30 at the vets) via the Dogs Trust charity events or at any of the 19 Dogs Trust centres (subject to appointment and availability)

Web exclusive - £5 off at M&S when you spend £30 or more on lingerie and nightwear online. Enter the code DD50OFF30 at the checkout. Delivery is £3.50 or you can collect in-store for free.

10% off National Railcards, including 16-25, Family and Friends, Two Together or Senior Railcard. Enter the code LONMID10 online at the checkout.

Kiehl's Amino Acid Shampoo & Conditioner


I have been keen to try Kiehl's hair products for a while, having heard that they are paraben and silicone-free (although apparently not sulphate-free). As such, I was excited to find that Kiehl's have opened a shop in Windsor.

I treated myself to trial bottles of the Amino Acid Shampoo and Conditioner. At £8.50 each for the 75ml bottles, this is an expensive product and it would be more cost effective to buy the larger bottles at £16 for 250ml.

The key ingredients in these products are amino acids, coconut oil  and hydrolysed wheat proteins.

Both the shampoo and conditioner have a lovely coconut fragrance and the following day I could still detect a faint hint of coconut in my tresses.

The shampoo does not lather particularly well, however my hair did feel squeaky clean once rinsed. I was somewhat concerned that this would leave it very dry, however the shampoo seems to be very gentle and did not dry my hair out too much. Just to make sure, I left the conditioner on for a couple of minutes before rinsing, as recommended on the bottle.

Once my hair had dried, it felt super soft and really healthy, with the added bonus that I loved the lingering smell of coconuts.

I am keen to try some of their other products, particularly the Superbly Smoothing Argan Shampoo. containing argan oils.
post signature

Saturday, 9 August 2014

August's Birchbox



Evening all!

I thought I'd give you all a quick preview of August's Birchbox. I'm very excited to try this month's items and they'll be great for my upcoming holiday!




Ginger Cat x

Monday, 4 August 2014

Book Review: The Cookoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith [Kindle Edition]



Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Published: 18 April 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Author: Robert Galbraith 
Twitter: @RGalbraith

Synopsis


When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .
A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel from Robert Galbraith.
 
Review 
 
Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym/pen name of J K Rowling, author of the 'Harry Potter' books. Despite not usually reading children's books, I have read all of the Harry Potter books and found them to be a great read (with the exception of the final book in the series which I did not really enjoy). I was impressed that Rowling was not only able to create the entire magical world in her mind, but also to write the stories in such a way that everyone was able to imagine that world as she had visualised it. As such, when it was leaked that Robert Galbraith was, in fact, J K Rowling, I was interested to see her style when it came to writing fiction for adults.

I'm glad I gave is a go becaus The Cuckoo's Calling is a brilliant mystery story. It focuses on private investigator Cormoran Strike. A famous but troubled model is found dead and her brother hires Strike to investigate the death despite the police treating it as a suicide. As Strike delves further into the facts surrounding the death it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

Strike is a complex character: ex-army, in financial straights, on the verge of losing his business and in the process of a complicated separation with his fiancé. He is a terrific character and Galbraith manages to make the reader sympathise with Strike's current situation whilst at the same time understanding his faults and failings. His assistant, Robin, is more instantly likeable as a character and their relationship is interesting to witness.

This is not an 'edge of your seat' story but proceeds at a gentle pace. However, the descriptive nature and the appeal of the characters make it a captivating story. Galbraith hits the right balance between description and storytelling which allows the reader to be able to visualise the world that the author has created in their mind without becoming too bogged down with overly verbose descriptions.

I struggled to put this book down.

I am aware that the book may not have garnered nearly so much attention and publicity had the author's true identity not been revealed, however, on the flip side, an established author such as Rowling may be more likely to face criticism if fans of her earlier work do not think a new book is up to earlier standards.

In my opinion, Rowling has moved effortlessly between genres, from a magical fantasy world to a gritty mystery, without losing any of the appeal of her writing style.

I have just downloaded book 2 in the Cormeran Strike series, The Silkworm, and I cannot wait to give it a try.

Both Cormoran Strike books are on sale via Amazon for £1.99 at present, so it's the perfect time to give them a try.

Ginger Cat x

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Can you read a book without first reading the synopsis?


I read A LOT. My house is full of books and I only invested in a Kindle because I ran out of storage room for physical books. 

When choosing a new book I am initially interested by the front cover and will always read the back cover/synopsis to see whether it is something that might interest me. I therefore have an idea about the story contained within the covers. 

As an experiment, I decided  to pick a book at random and start reading without any idea about the story. I chose Lady Luck and Me by Ben Dobson (Kindle edition) for no reason other than it was one of the list of books on the screen in front of me when I thought of this idea. 

I am currently 23% of the way through the book and I still have no idea where the story is leading. Don't get me wrong, I am very much enjoying reading the tale of transition from childhood through teenage years to adulthood and the escapades he becomes involved in, it's just a bit odd having no idea as to whether the story is fiction/non-fiction and whether the story is merely the narrator's path through through life or if there is a different direction the story is going to take. I must admit, I quite enjoy the mystery. The book so far has been both hilarious and sad at times and I certainly want to carry on reading to see how the tale progresses. 

I'd be interested to know if anyone else avoids reading the synopsis before starting a book? If not, give it a try! I think it brings a new level to the reading experience. 

Ginger Cat x

Smith & Sinclair Cocktail Confectionery

Photograph courtesy of wwwww.smithandsinclair.co.uk

These Cocktail Confectioneries are a range of adult sweets from Smith and Sinclair made by hand using alcohol, fruit and spices. The website states that "to ensure that each pastille is infused with the deep complexity of flavours to be found in a cocktail, our unique cooking process ensures only minimal alcohol is burnt off". 

The consistency is softer than a fruit pastille, more like a Yorks Fruits. 

We tried the rum and whiskey flavours sold to us in boxes of 2 for £3 per box or £5 for 2 boxes.



From review of Smith and Sinclair's website, I believe the flavours we tried were:

  • Spiced Rum (Dark rum & Warming spices)
  • Whisky Sour (A classic with a Grapefruit twist) 

Other available flavours are:

RUM

Mixed Berry Daiquiri (Summer Berries, Dark Rum and a Pink Peppercorn infused coating)

GIN

Spring Clean (Gin, Elderflower, Thyme)

Gin & Tonic (Violet infused gin in a Lemon Sherbet coating)

WHISKY

Cake Icing (Whisky & Amaretto)

To be completely honest, we expected these sweets to taste awful, and I was happily surprised to find that they actually taste pretty good. I just wish they had the other flavours available to try. 

I think these are a fun and original idea and I'll definitely be willing to try the other flavours if I find them on sale again. 

Ginger Cat x