Tuesday 30 July 2013


Red Tea Skin Natural Skin Therapy Face and Body bar & Glycerin Soap with Exfoliant

Red Tea Skin Natural Skin Therapy produces a range of products containing a blend of ingredients infused with red tea extract, high in anti-oxidants, with pure essential oils and vitamins. What the products do not contain are parabens, synthetic colours and other chemical ingredients you don't want on your skin.

I thought that the Gentle Cleansing Face and Body bar was a very satisfying soap to use. With a lovely gentle fragrance, reminiscent of that of baby products, and a creamy texture, it left my skin feeling smooth and soft. The soap, a cleanser and moisturiser combined into one, worked really well for my skin, which is normally on the dry side.

The Glycerin Soap with Exfoliant on the other hand, while sharing the same scent I've quickly fallen in love with and while also feeling soft and gentle, didn't gain any benefits from the added natural leaf exfoliant. It certainly makes the bar look attractive, but it is too gentle and would only be suited for the most superficial of exfoliations. Using it as a regular soap bar it still worked wonderfully, though, leaving my skin feeling very soft and smelling lovely.


Book review: Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 1 August 2013 by Pan Macmillan, 335 pages.

Description: North Carolina, 1960. Newlywed Jane Forrester, fresh out of university, is seeking what most other women have shunned: a career. But life as a social worker is far from what she expected. Out amongst the rural Tobacco fields of Grace County, Jane encounters a world of extreme poverty that is far removed from the middle-class life she has grown up with. But worse is still to come.

Working with the Hart family and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ivy, it’s not long before Jane uncovers a shocking secret, and is thrust into a moral dilemma that puts her career on the line, threatens to dissolve her marriage, and ultimately, determines the fate of Ivy and her family forever. Soon Jane is forced to take drastic action, and before long, there is no turning back.


Monday 29 July 2013


Book review: Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 1 August 2013 by Simon & Schuster, 500 pages.

Description: Every little girl grows up dreaming of finding a prince - but what is the fairy tale turns into a right royal nightmare?

Lori is a beautiful, blonde, all-American athlete. When the charismatic ruler of a small, filthy rich European state asks for her hand, she thinks she's snagged Prince Charming. But she soon realizes that all that glitters is not gold...

Belinda was once the most recognized and loved princess in the world. Forced to stage her own death, she lives incognito abroad with her adoring royal lover. Now, she is determined to return to England to see her son Hugo wed, even if it means risking her own life.

Chloe, Prince Hugo's fiancée, is the archetypical English rose. But it's a long road to becoming a princess, even when you're dating the heir to the throne. Perhaps the fairy-tale ending isn't all it was cracked up to be...

Killer queens, scheming kings, murder plots and lashings of steamy sex - find out what REALLY goes on behind closed palace doors.


Sunday 28 July 2013


Sunday post #4

Sunday is when I sit back with a lovely cup of tea and write about all the wonderful new books I've received and purchased in the past week. This post participates in fab memes Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.

Review books: Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach, Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, Ostrich by Matt Greene.

Competition wins: It's Raining Men by Milly Johnson, Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance, Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore.

It's been a good week on the book front, but also a busy one. I've had some issues with deliveries recently so some of the books arrived later than expected with the publication date very near (why are so many books released on August 1?!) or already passed. I always try to get a new review up before or on publication day so I've been going through the arrivals of the last few weeks like crazy!

So far I've read Kiss Me First (a thrilling debut novel, find my full review here) and the latest saucy bonkbuster by Rebecca Chance, Killer Queens (review up soon). I'm in the middle of Necessary Lies (very poignant so far) and am very excited to start reading Ostrich (as it's been billed to me as similar to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which is one of my favourite books) and Milly Johnson's latest!

Have you guys read any of the books showcased above yet? If so, what did you think?

Friday 26 July 2013


Book review: Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

My edition: Hardcover, published on 4 July 2013 by Picador, 337 pages.

Description: When Leila discovers the website Red Pill, she feels she has finally found people who understand her. A sheltered young woman raised by her mother, Leila has often struggled to connect with the girls at school; but on Red Pill, a chat forum for ethical debate, Leila comes into her own, impressing the website's founder, a brilliant and elusive man named Adrian. Leila is thrilled when Adrian asks to meet her, and is flattered when he invites her to be part of "Project Tess."

Tess is a woman Leila might never have met in real life. She is beautiful, urbane, witty, and damaged. As they email, chat, and Skype, Leila becomes enveloped in the world of Tess, learning every single thing she can about this other woman--because soon, Leila will have to become her.


Thursday 25 July 2013


Book review: The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 1 August 2013 by Sphere, 411 pages.

Description: Arriving on the windswept Ile de Ré off the coast of France, Tabby Dewhurst is heartbroken and penniless, unable even to afford a room for the night. Then she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door and, hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the villager to leave and lets herself into the house . . .

And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emmie, whose sudden offer of friendship is at odds with her obsession with her own privacy. Soon Tabby begins to form suspicions about Emmie, suspicions that will lead her back to England - and to a scandal with shattering consequences.


Tuesday 23 July 2013


Book review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My edition: Paperback, published on 4 July 2013 by Phoenix (an Orion imprint), 324 pages.

Description: Bernadette Fox is notorious.

To Elgie Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she's his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she's a menace. To design experts, she's a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum.

Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a compulsively readable, irresistibly written, deeply touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's place in the world.


Monday 22 July 2013


Hendrick's Gin Afternoon Tea at St Ermin's Hotel

St Ermin's Hotel in London's Westminster area serves afternoon tea in the library or on the Caxton Terrace between 1pm and 5pm daily, and we had the pleasure to visit the beautiful location to review their Hendrick’s High Tea.

The restaurant offers guests a choice of Jing teas to accompany the food as well as two Hendrick's gin cocktail teapots (one tea pot provides two cocktails for two people). We opted for the "Marvellous Marteani", which is made of Hendrick’s gin, elderflower, white cranberry juice and comes with a separate beaker of cucumber caviar pearls, which can be added to the drink as desired. Surprisingly light and fresh in flavour this cocktail is a great addition to the tea on a warm summer's day and the green pearls offset the bright pink drink beautifully, adding a dash of fun to the teacup it is served in.

To start off the afternoon of delights we were offered the choice of three types of scones - plain, cranberry and cheese - and we both opted for one each of the unique flavours next to a plain one. The cranberry scone was slightly tart and provided an excellent alternative to the often too sweet raisins found in a regular fruit scone. And the savoury scone worked very well with the full flavour of the homemade strawberry jam, which was filled with whole strawberries.

The savoury treats were largely fish based, with a lobster quiche and dressed crab with avocado on offer. The highlight of the maritime delights though was a twist on the smoked salmon finger sandwich, which had a very generous amount of good-quality salmon on a beautifully crunchy base. The other savoury options included a cucumber, mint and crème fraiche, a crunchy tomato tart encased in delicious pastry, and a duck liver mousse that proved to be one of the high points of the meal.

Moving on to the sweets selection, one favourite was the lemon tart as it was suitably sour to clean the pallet after the rich-flavoured savoury bites. The cucumber and mint syllabub, which was both heavy and refreshing at the same time, was a surprising experience and the crunchy cucumber on the top added for an interesting sensation. The menu was finished off by two bright purple desserts, a juniper and violet macaroon and a soft and creamy profiterole with an equally eye-catching purple filling.

Once you have satisfied your taste buds be sure to take a leisurely stroll on your way out so you get a chance to admire the beautiful foyer of the hotel. While set in the heart of London and just minutes away from St James's Park station, the interior makes it seem like you've wandered straight into a grand mansion far away from the bustling city.

St. Ermin's Hotel, Caxton St, London SW1H 0QW

Sunday 21 July 2013


Sunday post #3

Sunday is when I sit back with a lovely cup of tea and write about all the wonderful new books I've received and purchased in the past week. This post participates in fab memes Showcase Sunday and Stacking the Shelves.

Review books: Playing Grace by Hazel Osmond, The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish.

Competition wins: From This Moment On by Colette Caddle, The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, With All My Love by Patricia Scanlan.

Purchased myself: Playing With the Grown-Ups by Sophie Dahl, Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes, When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson.

Gifted: Monday to Friday Man by Alice Peterson.

I didn't receive any books in the post for two weeks (it was a sad, sad time) nor did I buy any (so I could finally work my way through my every-growing TBR pile), but this week has surely made up for the lack of new additions!

I've already finished a few of the titles (Playing Grace and Where'd You go Bernadette) and am about to start The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish which looks like a beautiful and intriguing read.

I also cannot wait to dig into Alice Peterson's Monday to Friday Man. After reading her latest release, By My Side [review here], I had the pleasure of attending her book launch earlier this week [blog post here]. Meeting the author and learning that the theme of disability runs through her novels has made me really interested in catching up with her backlist.

Another novel I am very excited to pick up is Jojo Moyes' Sheltering Rain, as both her 2012 releases - Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind [review here] - were amongst the best books I read last year and she has quickly become one of my absolute favourite authors.

Have you guys read any of the books showcased above yet? If so, what did you think?

Friday 19 July 2013


By My Side book launch at Quercus

I recently read Alice Peterson's new novel By My Side [find my review here] and I was invited by the publisher, Quercus, to join the launch party which was held on their rooftop terrace last night! For my recap of the night and some photos please click the link below :)

Monday 15 July 2013


Kelktails: Making cocktails with author Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk is the author of the I Heart... novels and the recently published About a Girl, an incredibly fun and fabulous first instalment in a brand new series [find my full review here].

To celebrate the launch Lindsey did various signings across the UK as well as some really cool events. Unfortunately I didn't email quick enough to get tickets to a special brunch, so I jumped on the chance when "Kelktails" was announced; a competition where readers could win a place at a cocktail making workshop with Lindsey. We had to come up with a name for a cocktail and in my first try I attempted to persuade her with "The Marc Jacobs", but alas there were much better answers than that and I didn't get in. Luckily for me though, there were some extra places available the night before the event and my cocktail "The Desperado" (because I was desperate to win!) did get picked this time around.

You can find my recap of the evening + some photos below.

Thursday 11 July 2013


Book review: The Trader of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks

My edition: Hardcover, published on 4 July 2013 by Quercus, 336 pages.

Description: In the chaos and corruption of post-civil war Vietnam, three seemingly unconnected lives are brought together in greed, fear and hope.

As a US Army deserter, Alexander is a man without country; stuck in a life he no longer controls and embroiled in the dark business of trading women. His latest victim is Hanh, a poor rural girl living in Hanoi who dreams to escaping the inevitability of an impoverished future and for whom Alexander’s arrival seems like the answer to a prayer. Neither of them has ever met Phuc - a Vietnamese businessman who backed the wrong side in the war and is now unable to pay his financial and political debts to the Party. But his struggles are about to change both their lives.


Friday 5 July 2013


Book review: Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

My edition: Paperback, published on 20 June 2013 by Harper, 417 pages.

Description: She's back ...and more devilish than ever.

Life has been good to Andy since she quit the job 'a million girls would die for' at Runway magazine. Now, ten years later, she's about to get married and she's running her own successful magazine.

But the night before her wedding, she can't sleep. Is it just normal nerves, or is she having serious second thoughts? And why can't she stop thinking about her ex-boss, Miranda – aka, the Devil?

It seems that Andy's efforts to build herself a bright new life have led her directly into the path of the Devil herself, bent on revenge...


Monday 1 July 2013


Book review: About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 4 July 2013 by Harper, 402 pages.

Description: Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when her carefully constructed Plan goes belly up, she's forced to reconsider.

After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa's phone, she decides that since being Tess isn't going so well, why shouldn't she try out being Vanessa? With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa's photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?

But Tess is soon in big trouble – she isn't a photographer, she isn't Vanessa, and the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he'd like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster.

Far from home and in someone else's shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or 'fess up and run…