Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Books Lately

Happy Show Us Your Books day with Steph & Jana! I hit a bit of a reading wall in June, read two duds and it just killed my reading mojo for a couple of weeks. But thankfully things picked up again, as they do, so I actually have some books to share today.

The Switch - Beth O'Leary
woman and her grandmother switch houses for 2 months
I absolutely loved The Flatshare so I had high expectations for this one. It's completely different (obviously) and definitely less of a romance, which was a bit of a bummer for me personally, but not enough of a bummer to take away from the book. The characters and the story were delightful and I adored everything. I think what I loved about both books is O'Leary's writing, not only the content. The characters really make the book in this one, they are so realistic and endearing. I loved Eileen and Leena, loved their relationship and how they dealt with their grief. The small town was so charming, I loved all the characters and the cats, loved Eileen making friends with all the people in London. Thanks to Heather for gifting me this one! It doesn't come out in the US until August.
Such a Fun Age - Kiley Reid
privilege, race, economic status
I honestly don't know how to talk about this book? I'm still not quite sure how I felt about it. I think I expected it to be more about 'the event' in the beginning, but I really enjoyed that it was about more everyday things, while still touching on quite intense and hard topics. This would make a fantastic book club book. There's a lot to think about and would spark a lot of discussion. It stayed with me a long time after finishing it. I think overall, I really liked it. I liked the characters and also loved to hate some characters. It was a page turner for sure.
One to Watch - Kate Stayman-London
plus size fashion blogger stars in bachelorette type show
Oh my goodness, was this book was a roller coaster. I’ve never watched the bachelor or bachelorette, so didn’t think this would be my jam - but I kept hearing about it and couldn’t resist. That cover! It was so delightful and lovely, such an easy and quick read - though at times, gosh, broke my heart. I can't believe how awful some people can be. Overall, very entertaining and I just adored the characters - definitely recommend if you're looking for a light read. I don't personally consider this a romance even though she's on a show meant for people to find love, but obviously it involves a bit of romance so if that's not your jam, skedaddle.
Received from Netgalley.
The Vanishing Half - Brit Bennett
follows the lives of once close but now estranged twin sisters and their children
Man, the character development in this book! Freaking amazing. These characters. Loved them all. Loved their stories. Loved getting to know them. It was beautifully written. I wish I was better with the words - all I can say is that I highly recommend.
mom and daughter go on college tour
This is my second Abbi Waxman book and after Nina Hill, I had high, high, high expectations. I knew it would be nothing like Nina, so I think that helped. I am not a parent and I'm not american, so the whole college thing was hard to relate to, but not too bad. It was really entertaining and easy to read. I loved the two main characters, especially getting both of their POVs on the same thing, analysing each other. Overall, I really liked it - it was a light read, funny and sweet, thoroughly enjoyable.
Her Last Flight - Beatriz Williams
lost pilot and wartime photographer, historical fiction
I did enjoy this one though it was a bit slow, took a bit to get into. It takes place between 1928 and 1947, but I feel like it’s written in such a modern way – especially with the way characters behave – that I would forget until something specific was mentioned. I enjoyed one time period/character's story more than the other, as is almost always the way with books like these that are split into two time periods/characters. The second half is definitely better than the first and I love how this author connects everything and always has a good twist or turn. And of course, a bazillion stars for the cat, Sandy. What a sweetie.
Received from Netgalley.
The Heir Affair - Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
sequel to the royal we
To say I was excited for this would be a massive understatement. It didn't disappoint. This book is drama drama drama and very emotional - I’m glad Heather gave me a heads up on the trigger warnings because it was emotional and hard to read in parts. I don’t want to spoil anything but I thought it was handled with sensitivity that you don’t always see in books with those situations. I admit I was a wee bit disappointed in one character's ending but, what can you do. Getting a sequel to a beloved book is always wonderful, but even better when the sequel is actually good! Eleanor in this book was fantastic. It was a joy to read, perfect escapism, so much fun. If you loved The Royal We, you’ve got to read this one.
Received from Netgalley.
The Weight of the Stars - K Ancrum
This is my first DNF of 2020. I really wanted to love this book, but it was confusing and weird and not what I thought it was at all. I thought it was going to be sci-fi, but it was just about teenagers with a few mentions of a space program? Nothing made sense and I disliked everyone. Think it's a case of me not being the intended audience or something, maybe it's me not the book, but good lord that was a chore.
Stealing Home - Sherryl Woods
ooh boy I was *not* a fan of this. I absolutely should have DNF'd but I'm a sucker for reading things so I can watch the show/movie. There is so much wrong with this book - with the double standards for men and women, the annoying teenagers, the women hating other women, the fat free nonsense, the lets throw in a random eating disorder but not actually deal with it, ughhhhhhhhhh. This book made me MAD. The show was cute though, if a bit cringey (what, I told you I was a sucker).
Take a Hint, Dani Brown - Talia Hibbert
I love Talia Hibbert. I could probably just end the review there, tbh. This was fabulous. I loved Dani, I loved Zaf. Loved them together. I loved how light and silly and hilarious this was. I loved how intense, heartbreaking and realistic it was. And steamy as all get out, of course. Who doesn't love a fake dating trope? Would read anything Talia Hibbert publishes.
The A.I. Who Loved Me - Alyssa Cole
I loved this. It was fun and different and I wish it was longer. I hope we get more like this. This was originally an audible exclusive, but I waited for the ebook because I prefer reading over listening when it comes to romance. It was very short so nice and quick, and I loved how unique it was. Made my cheeks hurt from smiling.
Loud Mouth - Avery Flynn
This was so much fun, quick and definitely starts with a bang (pun intended). I really love her writing, she's one of those authors that I know exactly what I'm getting and I love it - this one was no different. Very readable, enjoyable, silly and fun. Steamy and adorable too.
Not Like the Movies - Kerry Winfrey
This was really cute - I liked it more than the first (Tom Hanks), not that there was anything wrong with the first, just connected more with this one. I really liked Chloe, though not as selfless as her I related to her a lot. Nick just sounds absolutely amazing. It was fast paced, funny, adorable, written well. Really enjoyed it. Loved all the side characters, the chemistry between Chloe and Nick, the friendship between Chloe and Annie. It was fun and sweet, a delightful read. Definitely recommend, especially if you like rom-coms!
Received from Netgalley.
Mermaid Inn & Paradise Cove - Jenny Holiday
These were absolutely delightful. I love her writing, love the characters, the friendships and the relationships. Her books always feel really realistic to me, and they are super readable. Second chance isn't my favourite, but the first was well done - I preferred the second just because I liked the characters a bit more and the trope was way more my speed. Highly recommend both. Reminds me a lot of the Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis, if you're a fan of those books.
Received Paradise Cove from Netgalley.

Linking up with Steph & Jana

Life According to Steph

I also read So You Want to Talk About Race, White Fragility, Just Mercy, and Me and White Supremacy and none of those really need reviews, but I definitely recommend them if you're looking to educate yourself.

TL;DR - I recommend any and all of the above if they sound like your jam.

Read anything decent lately?

Monday, July 6, 2020

A few of my favourite things - skincare

I'm still working on perfecting my skincare routine after my skin went bonkers from going off the pill/pregnancy/losing the baby. It has mostly calmed down and now I'm just working on specific issues. My skin is sensitive though and I can't introduce new products often, so the journey to my holy grail perfect skincare routine is a slow one. I don't mind though - compared to how my skin was during the pill/baby time, I'm very happy with it.

Obligatory disclaimer - everyone is different and just because something works for you doesn't mean it will work for me, and vice versa. When I started my skincare journey, I bought all the popular products and I believe that some people with normal/tolerant skin can use pretty much anything and see 'results'. Some people like me though, no. So, do your own research and find what works for you. No affiliate links used. Aside from being sensitive, my skin is kind of combo/normal. Mostly normal with a side of dehydrated, sometimes oily sometimes dry. I only really breakout around my period.

Anywho, while I'm not going to share my full routine because I've not finalised it, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things.

Timeless Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid - I tried 4 other vitamin c serums before I tried this one. They either irritated my skin, didn't do anything or I hated the tacky feeling. I've gone through 5 bottles of this one. I love it. If they ever stop making it, I will protest. I highly doubt they will, since it's so popular. Some people say it is a dupe for the skinceuticals one, I wouldn't know because I've never tried it and never will- no judgement at all, just way out of my budget. I use it first thing in the morning (after cleansing if I workout, after just a splash of water if I don't workout). If I have time, I wait 15-20 minutes before continuing my routine. If I don't, I just wait until it dries. They recently changed the bottle and I haven't tried the new one*. I love it because it has brightened my skin and evened out my skin tone. I can never remember the exact wording, but your skin does something in the sun and using a vitamin c serum acts as a shield so the sun takes that instead of the stuff from your skin (a professional, I am not). So I use it for that reason too. I keep mine in the fridge. From what I remember, took about 2-3 months to see a difference, it was definitely gradual.
*I wrote this post a couple of months ago, I've since used the new bottle and I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. It leaks and stopped pumping in less than 2 weeks. I bought the bigger one - which is also the new bottle, but so far it doesn't leak or hasn't stopped pumping. So I really hope they fix it, because I'm not sure I can recommend the smaller one with the crappy bottle, and the big one is too expensive/too much for someone to try it out.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA - this moisturiser, holy moly. It is so simple and unassuming. It's so cheap. I have like 27 in storage because again, if they stop making it, I will revolt. It is amazeballs, I can't shut up about it. I only use it in the morning, I like to be more of a slug at nighttime.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% - ahhhh I love this. It does not do anything amazing for existing breakouts (for me anyway) but this is 100% the reason my skin stopped breaking out in general. Also, if I do get a breakout now, the life of it is dramatically reduced (used to be 7-10 days, now it's 2-3 days without any special treatment). It cleared all the congestion and little bumps under my skin. I also think it helped with the overall dull appearance of my skin - with tone, redness and texture. There are some places that say you can't use this with vitamin c, but from what I've read, that myth has been debunked and you should only avoid them together if your skin doesn't like it. My skin does. Love it. Took a bit over a month to really notice it worked.
Kate Somerville Anti Bac - I was hesitant to put this one on here, because I'm not sure yet if I will repurchase. I bought it when my skin was at its worst - the first time I used it (as directed, thin layer all over), I had a very bad reaction. I almost got rid of it then, but my friend who'd recommended it told me to use it as a spot treatment, and it was amazing. It's expensive, in my opinion, but the bottle lasted me almost 2 years, I used so little each time. I have had several spot treatments work miracles the first few times but then stop working - this one worked every.single.time. I used this before I started using the niacinamide and it would get rid of a breakout within a few days (the ones that used to hang around for well over a week). Now that I use the niacinamde, this product will reduce a huge breakout overnight, and it'll be completely gone within 2 days. I tried the up&up BP but it's not cruelty free, and it didn't work anywhere near as well. I also tried this Paula's Choice 5% BP one, and it does work but not as well though it is much cheaper. I don't really get huge breakouts anymore, so I suppose I don't *need* the Kate Somerville one, but honestly, it's definitely the best (for me).
DHC Cleansing Oil - I hate that I love this. It is not cruelty free. I have tried every other cruelty free oil cleanser in the entire world (perhaps slight exaggeration) and none of them worked as well as this one or my skin instantly hated them (burts bees, qv, body shop, paula's choice, bare minerals). When I run out of my hoarder stash though, I will not repurchase because I simply cannot in good conscience support something that isn't CF. From what I think I've figured out, my skin does not like fragrance, mineral oil or coconut oil. It loves olive oil though. Sigh. Wish it wasn't so perfect for my skin. I do love my makeup eraser that I got in a Fab Fit Fun box, but I only have one and my skin doesn't exactly feel clean once I've used it, just makeup-less.
Sunscreen - Australian Gold & EltaMD - I won't go on a rant about how everyone should use sunscreen since everyone knows, right?? These two are my favourites - if I'm wearing makeup, I prefer the Australian Gold, if I'm going to be outside running or something, I prefer the EltaMD.
Anyway - there are a ton of other products I use or have liked in the past, but these are definitely my 'holy grail' items.

Currently, I'm trying to find that holy grail heavy night time moisturiser. I asked on instagram a month or so ago and got tons of cruelty free suggestions, so working through those now. Currently using this Derma E one which sometimes feels amazing and sometimes does not. The scent is super strong and sometimes it makes my face feel super tight and dry which is super weird for a moisturiser. Won't be repurchasing.

I've also been trying to find a good body moisturiser, one that actually sinks in and doesn't feel greasy - if you have any cruelty free suggestions, please share!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

June 2020 - What's New With You

Hello all, time for another what's new with you link up! Thanks again if you join me, I always appreciate it. You don't have to display the button if you don't want to, but don't forget to mention it somewhere in your post and check out some of the other posts!

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I keep doing these recaps even though, like everyone else, I don't have a ton to recap. I'm still not 100% sure what day it is, and with tomorrow being a holiday, I'm even more off. Maybe by 2021 I'll figure it out.

To be honest, I'm not totally up to date on things being open and whatnot since I'm not going out, I go to work and the supermarket and my friends houses. I hear bits and pieces about restaurants and things opening, but since I am not going I don't really stay on top of it. I know about salons because of my best friend. Of course, I'm ready for things to be... not 'back to normal' but for it to be over and be able to do all the things, but I'm content to just lay low right now. Yeah, all of my hobbies kind of went kaput, a lot of my social activities are cancelled, I really should get some check ups and stuff done, my feet are crying for a pedicure, but I can still read and hang out with friends. It makes for a boring blog post/monthly recap, but hey, in my opinion, well worth it. 

That being said, this is what I did in June:

- cat & dog sitting (I *knew* dogs were more work than cats, but actually doing it for a week, good lord I was exhausted but they were so cute and fabulous)

- we're supposed to be in Europe but we're not so lets eat all the food and drink all the alcohol from all the places we were supposed to go and try to make the best of it hang out - the Netherlands, Belgium & Spain if you were curious.

- book club
- yoga & running
- read books & loved on my fat cats

And, I mean, that's about it. Like I said, I'm totally okay with it, but it doesn't make for very exciting blogging. July will be more of the same, I'd wager.

If you'd like to link up, please do so below:
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So, what's new with you?