What I’ve been reading

I’ve seen a few of these posts recently and I think they’re a great way to find new books to read! This selection of books definitely has a circus/carnival/festival theme, probably because they were all recommendations Amazon gave me after I bought Caraval!

I don’t know how much detail to go into for a mini review, especially as I’m someone who rarely reads blurbs because I hate having even the first chapter given away! So please let me know if you’d like more or less detail – and whether this is interesting?!

So the first is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. This book is completely mesmerising, almost magical and honestly swept me off my feet. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s so beautifully thought out and written. It’s about Scarlett, who has been wishing for Caraval to visit where she lives for years, having been enchanted by the stories her grandmother told her. Caraval is a magical show with audience participation held by the mysterious Legend.

The next is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This book is about a circus that arrives completely unexpectedly, no one sees it arrive or leave, or set up. Beneath the circus is hidden the competition between two illusionists. I think both the characters in the book and the reader ends up questions what is real and what is an illusion. I didn’t find this as spellbinding as Caraval but the imagery is stunning. Even now, writing this, I feel like I can step into the book and see the different parts of the circus – that’s some magical writing.

Finally, I read Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody which again had some amazing imagery, this time of the characters. This book is based in Gomorrah, the burning city, which is a moving festival (again that circus feel). The main character is Sorina, who can create illusions. She has created a family of illusions, each with their own personalities who perform with her in their Freak Show. The twists and turns in DOTBC kept me hooked, though I never see anything coming so those of you more with it than me might work them out! It’s a book that’s full of intrigue, fantasy meets detective and I loved it!

I can’t quite believe I managed to pick three books with such similar overall themes this month. I also now have the strongest craving for candy floss and popcorn plus desperately wanting to see some acrobats. Do any of these sound like they’d be for you?

xo Fleur xo

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Cruelty Free Products I’ve Loved for Years

Since deciding to go cruelty free, I have been trying to get rid of some of the products I won’t use up. As I’ve been going through my collection I’ve found so many products that I’ve loved for years (or at least a year) – so I thought I’d give a shoutout to some of the awesome CF products out there!

First off I’ve loved Barry M Nail Paints forever. The molten metal ones are particularly gorgeous but they’re all great, especially for the price. One of my all time favourites is Illamasqua Collide which is a stunning hot pink. It’s also easy to apply and lasts well.

A forever favourite lipstick is Illamsqua Underworld, which has regularly featured in selfies. Not so much recently but 3/4 years back I probably wore it on a weekly basis. The NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams are my favourite liquid lipsticks, they don’t dry my lips out too much and I can eat and reapply, they also come in so many pretty shades. I’m also  a big fan of the NYX Macaron Lippies they’re fantasy colours and are gorgeous, they’re a traditional lipstick which I prefer. I love them.

It is limited edition but this Kiko Blush Duo is gorgeous and I really want to try more of their shimmery blushes as a result. If you haven’t tried anything from Kiko, I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve tried from them!

The Illamasqua Pigment in Static is something I still haven’t fully worked out how to use to it’s full potential but it’s everything. SO gorgeous.

I couldn’t write a post talking about products I love without mentioning Phee’s Makeup Shop. If you like a strong highlight, you can’t go wrong and her eyeshadows are really gorgeous too. The highlights are also amazing foiled in the inner corner or in a halo eyeshadow look.

Sleek Makeup iDivine Eyeshadow Palettes have been my firm favourites for a good six years. They’re really affordable, the pigmentation is ridiculous, they blend so well… I’ve used up two of their palettes completely now and had to repurchase them.

Finally the Inika Mineral Foundation is pretty decent. It doesn’t have the best coverage but I prefer a lighter coverage. It sits so nicely on the skin, I can barely feel it and it doesn’t slip around. Exactly what I need in a summer foundation!

Have you tried any of these products? If so, what do you think of them?

xo Fleur xo

Book Review: Ready Player One

If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, Ready Player One is a film coming out next year, based on the book of the same name. If you haven’t seen it, the trailer is pretty exciting! My OH who is always more with it than I am had noticed this and immediately decided to read the book and told me I needed to as well. So I did!

I’ll start with the one bit of negativity, there is a lull in the middle of the book. It starts intriguingly and ends in an epic, wonderful way but the middle, eh, it’s slow.

Ready Player One is about an Easter Egg hunt (the gaming kind) set in place by an eccentric billionaire who owns the virtual reality where everyone in this dystopian future spends most of their time. The hunt is started when he dies and the prize is his fortune.

The book follows Wade Watts, who is about to graduate from school, as he tries to solve the clues, whilst in competition with some deadly opponents, as well as his friends. The competition is based around the 80’s and it’s pop culture. There are references to so many games, music, books, tv shows – everything and that definitely adds to the depth of the story! I can imagine anyone who loves the 80’s would get even more enjoyment out of this book than I did.

If you have read Ready Player One already and enjoyed it (or end up enjoying it), it reminded me of Tad Williams Otherland series, though nowhere near as detailed. If you love sci-fi, Ready Player One and epic series, I’d recommend checking out Otherland.

Having read the book, I’m so excited for the film – here’s hoping they can do it justice. With Steven Spielberg directing it I can imagine it’s going to be incredible! It isn’t out for a while yet, so there’s plenty of time to read the book if it does sound like something you’d enjoy.

xo Fleur xo

Review: Cover FX Custom Blot Drops

As an absurdly oily skinned human, anything that says it’s going to help control my oil is something I want to buy. So, when I was given a Beauty Bay voucher for my birthday by my OH’s dad I decided to give the Cover FX Custom Blot Drops a go! At £34 for 30ml these drops aren’t a cheap purchase but all the reviews I read suggested that they’d be incredible. In fact they sounded like a miracle for me, seeing as I have to blot my face every hour or so.

Sadly my experience with these doesn’t seem to have been the same as everyone else’s…

The first time I used these I put a thin layer on my skin and then tried to blend my liquid foundation on top. It really didn’t work very well and my foundation looked a bit patchy. My skin felt so dry and tight and the foundation just wouldn’t sit right.

The next time I used less and worked my foundation on top whilst it was still wet. I also used them as a top up on top of the foundation. This didn’t make my foundation patchy but it did break me out. It was the only thing I did differently in my skincare and makeup routine so *shrugs* I guess my skin just didn’t appreciate it.

I have also used it underneath powder foundation and on it’s own and I haven’t been impressed.

I just haven’t found it does much. Yesterday when I used them, by the time I finished applying my eyeshadow, about half an hour after using the drops and foundation over the top, my oil was coming through. If anything they seem to be exacerbating my oiliness as I wouldn’t usually have oil popping through that quickly! It even makes my skin FEEL oilier and I hate that feeling 😫

So overall, I wish I’d retained my healthy scepticism for anything that sounds too good to be true and hadn’t bought these. I’ll continue trying to use them as I don’t want to waste £34 but I really wouldn’t recommend them. I am tempted to just chuck them in the bin so I don’t have to see my wasted money! I don’t think I’m using these incorrectly, do feel free to correct me or help me out if you have any tips…

xo Fleur xo

My Thoughts on Church Weddings

I’ve had this post in my head for around a year now and I’m just going to write it and see how long it takes me to post it… Please don’t hate me ❤ (note, I started writing this in 2016, it’s taken me a while).

I’m going to talk about how I feel about church weddings. I am fully aware that my opinion is a controversial one for a lot of people. I’m also going to say you do you, when it’s your wedding day – do whatever makes you happy.

My main issue is that this is a marriage, a partnership being solidified for everyone to see and support. The point in your life with your partner when you make the most important vows to each other. When you get married in a church and you don’t actually believe in God – those vows include a lie. You’re lying as part of (hopefully) the most important promise you will ever make. You’re lying in the readings, in the hymns and to the vicar who does genuinely believe. I know not all churches make people include God in the vows but most of the church weddings I’ve been to have. It makes me SO uncomfortable. To be honest it makes me uncomfortable seeing a group of people stood in the church not wanting to say amen, it’s an uncomfortable situation.

The only time I’ve found it to be wonderful and full of love, was when it was clear that both people getting married did believe. Where they were part of the community and the community were there supporting them. Where the vicar actually knew who these people were.

It also makes me feel awkward hearing how people feel they need to lie to their vicar about their beliefs or begrudgingly go along to services just so they can get married in a church.

I was brought up as a Christian which obviously makes me biased. We went to church regularly and I went to church camp for a several years in a row (it was incredible). I’ve been christened and chose to be confirmed (I 100% believed that God existed).

Now I’d say I’m more agnostic than anything else but my upbringing still sticks with me. As I don’t truly 100% believe anymore I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting married in a church – especially as my OH definitely doesn’t believe. I would feel disrespectful and more than anything, I don’t want to lie on my wedding day and I wouldn’t want to know my OH was lying. It feels very wrong for me personally.

I think this opinion was also solidified by talking to people who were married in churches yet knew so little about the Christian faith – for example thinking that Henry VIII ‘invented’ Christianity. I can’t.

I know in England it’s traditional to get married in a church and I understand the love of tradition and wanting to have those church photos… Also, having said all that, churches do want and need your money. Ultimately if it’s going to make your dream day – go for it! Everyone’s different, what makes me uncomfortable clearly makes so many people very happy.

What do you think about church weddings? Is it an essential for you? Or something to be avoided, like it is for me?

xo Fleur xo

Current Favourites

I feel like it’s been about a year since I did a current favourites post… So it’s beyond time that I wrote another one. It’s also my first cruelty free favourites post (except potentially the Violet Voss palette, they say they’re cruelty free but they’re still pending on Logical Harmony… GAH!)

I’ve been loving the Violet Voss Holy Grail Palette, it’s a largely warm toned eyeshadow palette with loads of mattes and the shimmer shades are more like a pressed foil pigment. The shadows are incredibly easy to blend, they aren’t too pigmented so they’re great for easily creating a look in a hurry. I do find the foiled shadows a little difficult to work with, I just use them with my finger now and that works fine – I’d avoid using them with a brush unless you want to wet them.

With my oily skin I wanted a powder foundation for summer and I found the Inika Mineral Foundation hiding in amongst some products I hadn’t used in a while – so I gave it a go. It doesn’t have the best coverage, so I use concealer underneath it on anything I really want to cover. It gives a really nice finish though and doesn’t feel heavy or move around throughout the day, perfect for summer. It even works nicely over sunscreen?!

The Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso has been a firm favourite since I bought it. It looks great when I’m a pale ghost and it looks absolutely gorgeous now I have a tan. It is shimmery, so if you don’t like that you won’t enjoy it but I love it.

I’ve been so impressed by the NYX Micro Brow Pencil, I used to use the MAC one that is essentially the same product but the NYX one is significantly cheaper and cruelty free! It’s great for making my brows look a little more natural because I can actually create little ‘hairs’ with it. I can definitely see myself repurchasing it.

I received the GOSH Infinity Eyeliner in Rock in a Curated Combination Box and it’s SO good! it’s so easy to use in the waterline and it stays put. I also like to use it as a winged liner but I have to use it before eyeshadow otherwise it’s a little dry but that’s fine when it then just stays put. I’m really impressed by it.

The Zoeva 226 Smudger Brush has been a favourite since I bought it back in February. I use it pretty much every time I apply makeup, so I can add eyeshadow easily to my bottom lash line. It picks up and distributes shadow so well!

I’ve talked about Phee’s Unicorn Highlighter in Shook a lot over on my Instagram because it’s pretty much the only highlight I’ve used since I bought it – as you can potentially tell by how bashed up it is! It’s a gorgeous pink-green shifting, super intense highlight that looks stunning in the inner corner but also as a metallic sheen over the cheekbones. If you want to be that glazed doughnut this will get you there.

The Superdrug Coconut Shower Gel smells so good and cleans without drying out my skin. It also costs under £1, which is pretty unbeatable for a nice shower gel.

I have also been loving the Superdrug Face Masks, I’ve tried a few now and they’ve all been excellent at achieving what they say they will! I love how many different types there are and they always seem to be on a 3 for 2 offer which always helps.

Finally, I’ve been using the Superdrug Active Haircare Leave-In Conditioner on the ends of my hair for about two months now and it’s really helped them out. The ends of my hair are the last remnants of my amazing rainbow hair I had two years ago and they were bleached to a complete disgusting mess. So they’re pretty straw-like. This leave in conditioner doesn’t weigh my hair down, it just leaves it really soft and manageable.

I know there were quite a few things from the Superdrug own brand range in this post, I’ve been trying to buy more CF products for a while now and I’ve been so impressed with everything I’ve tried from them so far.

What are your current favourites? I’d love it if you left me a link to yours if you have a recent post about them!

xo Fleur xo

Book Review: The Book of Lost Things

Having had The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly sat on my bookshelf for a long while now, having started reading again (as I talked about in this post) I thought I’d finally get round to picking it up. It came out in 2006, so this is a very belated review but I’m sure there are people, like me, who missed it.

First up, the cover instantly drew my attention with the person reading amongst the ivy, the keys and the slightly creepy figure. That seems like the kind of book I can get on board with!

The book is set during World War II where the main character David is an avid reader struggling to cope with a new life. It is a dark and not altogether pleasant story but it’s fascinating and I was completely drawn in.

The story draws heavily on fairy tales and some of them are the ones we know and some are twisted, dark versions. In fact the copy I read has a detailed account from John Connolly of where each of the fairy tales comes from, if/how he changed them and the fairy tale itself. Whilst I knew most of the tales he had drawn inspiration from, it was still interesting to learn where they originated.

It is a tale of David’s journey from child to adult but also of another child’s journey and the comparison of the two is so interesting. Whilst it had these elements of childhood and the fairy tales, I wouldn’t recommend this book for children. There are some rather gruesome scenes…

Overall the description on the front of the book ‘engaging, magical, thoughtful’ is so true. If you love fairy tales or magical stories, I’d say to give this book a go.

xo Fleur xo