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REASON FOR PURCHASE... I have always overlooked this product since it's not the most eye-catching colour out of the Benefit blusher boxes. At £23.50 it's no impulse buy! I finally own this blush / powder after spotting it for sale on an online beauty blogger's blog sale. The pretty packaging and large size, along with it's excellent reputation, were too much of a draw! FIRST THOUGHTS... Benefit have redesigned the packaging for their famous blush and powder boxes in the last few years. The boxes are now mostly flip top, and have a small mirror inside. The draw back is that you now get slightly less product, with the powder pan weighing in at 0.28oz. Compared to other blushes on the market, this is still a generous size, and will last you a very long time. What has always struck me as odd, is that Dandelions aren't pink! However, the Dandelion on this blush box is indeed pink, and the colour inside pretty much matches the colour of the picture on the box. I do enjoy the whimsical designs on all of the Benefit products, although I will say that the fact that these boxes are cardboard, does leave room for wear and tear over time. The boxes always end up with white marks where the colour has scraped off here and there. Inside, these boxes always come with a little brush. While I wouldn't recommend using the brush as your first choice, but they're handy to have if you're on the go. I would recommend using a more rounded, or even an angled, blusher brush, for a bit more precision. Of course, you can also use this as an all over powder, in which case I'd go with a much bigger brush than a blush brush. At first glance, the powder did seem quite pale to show up as a blusher. I immediately thought "Ahh. Too pale for blush, too dark for highlighter, and too pinky for a face powder... what am I going to do with this!?". Luckily, I gave it a good try out and was soon converted! WHAT BENEFIT SAY... "Why we love it This sheer ballerina pink finishing powder with a subtle shimmer takes your complexion from dull to radiant in an instant! To perk up throughout the day, dust on cheeks or all over face. Soft, natural-bristle blush brush included." APPLICATION To make this work as a blusher, I tried a number of different techniques. If you have very very fair, porcelain skin, I would recommend applying this with a fairly light touch, with a fairly soft blusher brush. One coat should do the trick, then blend from the apples of your cheeks up to your temples. For skin that is still light, but a touch more tanned, you can still benefit (haha, no pun intended!) from using this blush. But you will definitely need to rethink the usual blusher application process. I would recommend doing what I do, which is using quite a structured / firm blusher brush, and really rubbing the brush on the blusher pan to pick up a lot of product. You may also want to apply more than one coat. You would still want to take this blush up to your temple and blend a fair bit to get a natural look. I haven't tried this blusher without foundation underneath, but I think it would be even less likely to show up. Foundation generally gives a plain base so that more colours and finishes would stand out. Without the foundation, you're probably going to get a very natural look, with just a hint of a flush. I have tried this as well as an 'all over face powder'. For me, I felt that this left me looking a little too pink and glowy, although I must stress that it was still definitely wearable (just not my style!). As an all over powder you're best off going very lightly and using as big and delicate a powder brush as you have. THE FINISHED LOOK This is a surprisingly wearable every day blusher. Despite being quite a pale pink, there is just enough colour for it to show up and look natural but polished. It also seems to have a highlighting effect, giving you a healthy glow, and making sure that your powder doesn't look 'cakey'. There is a hint of a shimmer or sheen, but nothing drastic - no big chunks of glitter! This looks nice with quite natural makeup, but would also be a good choice if you're going for statement eyes, or statement lips. The blush will last a good few hours (probably more, but I'm the sort of person who touches their face without realising a lot!). You can always have this one in your handbag with you since the mirror and the brush make it easy enough to reapply when you're on the go. TO SUMMARIZE I probably have around 30 different blushers on the go at the moment, so it really says a lot that this is my current favourite! If you're the sort of person who will spend £20+ on a single item of makeup, I'd definitely recommend trying it out! If you're more into very bold, statement colours like hot pinks, corals and reds, then this one probably won't get you very excited! A perfectly natural every day product, a good size, and will last a good while in the pot and on your face!
I have a few MAC plushglasses in my makeup collection and due to their small size and simple packaging they tend to get overlooked. I've recently rediscovered 'Girl [heart] Boy' from MAC's limited edition 'Quite Cute' collection in Spring 2011. I've been carrying it around in my handbag for the last few weeks and applying it on an almost daily basis. So I guess it's about time for a review! BRIEF PRODUCT DESCRIPTION The plushglass lipglosses make up part of MAC's lipgloss 'family'. In their permanent, non limited edition line, you can chose from around 12 colours and finishes. The finishes are either 'frost' or 'cream' which are quite self explanitory with 'frost' containing fine glitter to give a shimmery appearance, and 'cream' providing a simple block (although quite sheer) colour. Colours available range from pale golds up to deep reds, with a lot of different pink and coral variations in between. These lipglosses are plumping, and aim to give your lips a fuller finish. They're your classic plumping lipgloss formulation where some mysterious ingredient manages to bring more blood to the surface of your lips, making them visibly fuller, and quite tingly feeling! I haven't looked into how these lipglosses work, but I can recognise the scent of whatever the plumping ingredient it is a mile off. Luckily these ones aren't too strong and the addition of a vanilla scent tones it down. The plumping ingredient doesn't have a horrible scent, just a little more 'chemical like' that I would chose to put on my lips. Along with the plumping aspect, the gloss contains vitamin E which is quite moisturising and soothing. You can easily wear this instead of a lip balm and you'll still save yourself from chapped lips. A factor worth noting with the plushglasses is the size. These come in 4.2ml tubes which is actually quite small. If you saw the gloss outside of a shop, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it had come from a gift set. I was surprised that these are so small and sold for £16.50 each. That being said, I've never run out of a lipgloss so there's more than enough in there. The small size also makes it convenient to carry with you, especially if you favour a tiny handbag and need the extra space! The tube is clear so you can see the colour of your gloss. 'MAC Plushglass' is written in black on the clear part of the tube, there is a silver product detail sticker on the base of the tube, and the the handle / lid is a soft feeling black matte plastic. The wand is a classic 'doe foot' shape, slanted at the tip to provide easy application. The opening where the wand goes into the tube to pick up the gloss is neat and the correct size so you don't end up with too much or too little product. PRICE / AVAILABILITY These are available from stand alone MAC stores (which are few and far between in the UK, with the majority being in London). You can also purchase them from MAC counters in department stores, or from MAC's own website. I beleive Selfridges and Debenhams also stock MAC plushglasses on their websites. I wouldn't recommend buying these from anywhere other than the above listed places. MAC is a brand that is often counterfeited. A lot of what ends up on ebay (and similar) is not genuine MAC, and therefore hasn't been made in accordance to cosmetic manufactoring regulations. They can contain ingredients which may harm or irritate your skin. At £16.50 I wouldn't recommend buying these on a whim. However, if you're in need of a new lipgloss and are likely to stick with the one product until it runs out, then I don't suppose it's too bad an investment. MY THOUGHTS ON APPLICATION / APPEARANCE WHEN WORN I have two of these plushglasses; both from the 'Quite Cute' limited edition collection. The other is a pale lilac, but the one I am reviewing is a pale pink. It's a very 'classic' baby pink shade, by which I mean it is exactly the colour you would think of if someone said 'baby pink' to you! A very nice, inoffensive colour! There is no hint of a sparkle or shimmer in this and the colour payoff is subtle, although definitely visable. A cooled toned pale pink like this would suit a wide range of skin tones and is very flattering for the face. Just in general, I'd recommend it as a colour to try out for lipgloss / lipstick. Because this colour is quite sheer and subtle, you can easily apply it on the go without using a mirror. If you're not going to use a mirror I'd recommend just applying one coat of this gloss. I've layered another coat on top of the first before, and realised that the colour is patchy in places. This is easily rectified by simply blending with your fingertip. Though obviously you'd need the mirror to see where to blend. As I've mentioned in the product description, the doe foot applicator is a nice shape, and slanted at the tip to easily work with the shape of your lips. The applicator is nice and soft too, so the whole application process feels like and soothing! After a few seconds, you'll notice the tingling feeling. Unlike some other plumping glosses, this is fairly gentle, and doesn't burn your lips and make the surrounding area all red (this has happened to me before - not a good look!). MAC descripes the tingle as a 'cool-warm vanilla buzz' which pretty much sums it up! Although, unfortunately, it's less 'vanilla' and more chemically when it comes down to the scent. Yes, you can smell the vanilla, but the plumping ingredient has a more overpowering scent. It's a strong, sweet scent, with a hint of something quite artificial. Although I don't think that this can be avoided in a plumping gloss. With the gloss I can see that my lips appear a bit fuller (but in a nice way, not too obvious!). The pale colour works well with this plumped up look. Since the plumping ingredient brings more blood to the surface of your lips, it can make your lips look quite bright and red! A pale, cool toned colour will balance this out very effectively. The 'buzz' doesn't last for long, although the plumping effect will last longer than the actual sensation. If you apply another quick coat, you'll feel the instant buzz again straight away. My plushglass application will last me a good few hours before I need to reapply. I can get away with having a drink or two, but if I were to eat a whole meal, it'd be gone, except for a hint of a softness / sheen to my lips. It's more long lasting than a lot of lipglosses, but nothing exceptional. OVER ALL THOUGHTS If, like me, you love the idea of plumping lipglosses, but have sensitive skin, then this one COULD work for you. It's the only plumping formulation that I've tried and been able to wear. Most 'burn' my lips straight away, make them swell uncomfortably, and leave red marks round my mouth! Luckily this one doesn't do any of that, and just provides a subtle plump with a little tingle. For most, the price will be too much of a negative factor to warrant purchasing any of these. On the whole I have to say that it's unlikely I'll purchase another. These would be lovely to receive as gifts though, or if you had any gift vouchers for department stores where there's a MAC counter. On the whole, a lipgloss worth having in your collection. Not something that you'd necessarily purchase for yourself, but something that would be greatly received as a gift! The price is the only negative aspect here, so if you have the money and are curious, then I'd say try one of these out and see what you think :)
I haven't written a review on dooyoo for a long time, mainly due to hectic working hours. However, I've been so impressed with this mascara that I felt I had to log on and share my thoughts! PRICE / AVAILABILITY / APPEARANCE OF PACKAGING Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara retails for approximately £22.50 and is available from most UK department stores (such as Selfridges, Debenhams and House of Fraser) and from larger branches of Boots. You can also purchase from a Chanel store if you happen to work / live near one! I can only think of one in London but I'm guessing there are more elsewhere in the country? Failing these options, you can purchase from the previously mentioned store's websites. The mascara I have is "10 / noir" which is black. It is available in other colours such as purple, brown and dark blue. The tube is rectangular, shiny and black with a silver band around the handle. The top part of the tube / handle twists to open, and the interesting thing about this mascara is the wand. The brush is actually made of plastic, although you may not notice at first. The 'bristles' are very close together and give the impression of a classic mascara brush. They're also fairly soft, which I think helps provide a thorough and even coverage (though more about that further in my review!). I've tried mascaras with plastic brushes in the past and been very disappointed - the fact that these plastic bristles are soft seems to be very important! APPLICATION / APPEARANCE WHEN WORN This mascara is unusually easy to apply given the plastic brush. Anyone who has tried out a lot of different mascaras over the years will, I'm sure, be able to relate to struggling with a rigid plastic comb! The bristles on this mascara are very well spaced out, and the brush as a whole is a sensible size (not too big or too fiddly and small). The bristles (well I guess they're little plastic spikes really) come right down to the end of the wand so that you can catch all the wispy, fine corner eyelashes too. There is no problem with getting the lashes right from root to tip, and applying mascara to lower lashes is relativeily easy too - I haven't had too many episodes of smudging black onto the skin underneath my lower lashes. I've found this mascara easy to apply on the go as well. I've managed to apply it in the car and on the train this week with no problem at all! One coat of this mascara is enough for a 'slight more than natural' daytime / subtle look. I tend to go overboard and apply at least three coats. You can't go wrong and end up with flakey spider leg type lashes so the more you apply, the more length, curl and slight thickening of the lashes you will get. It's very interesting how much extra volume and length you can get from this mascara AND still manage to keep the curl. I don't have a natural curl to my lashes at all, and they're very short. With this mascara my lashes appear curled all day. In terms of length, I can pretty much get double the length of my natural lashes by wearing this, and it's all very even and realistic looking. No patchiness with one really long eyelash, one short and stumpy right next to it! The mascara does stay on all day and I've had no problems with smudging. Whilst cutting an onion I've had very watery eyes and got away with no mascara runs. If I was to touch my moistened eyelashes directly straight after having watery eyes, then yes, I would get some of the mascara on my hand. But if I allow some time for the mascara to set / dry again, before touching my lashes, it'll go back to how it was with no streaking and no difference in appearance to the initial mascara application. OVER ALL THOUGHTS I love this mascara and will be making it my latest makeup box essential. With the lengthening, curl and increase in volume, there's no need for anything too expensive like eyelash extensions or growth serums. Therefore I can just about justify the cost of this every few months. It would be nice if this was maybe even £5 cheaper as over £20 for a mascara does seem very excessive. On the whole though, I don't have any issues with the product and will rate it five stars.
You can purchase Too Faced beauty products from a number of online shops, the one that springs to mind for me is ASOS.com, although some smaller online outlets stock Too Faced as well. I haven't found this in any of my local department stores, but since I'm a fan of online shopping, this hasn't been so much of an issue. On ASOS. com this costs £12. You get a full sized 10ml tube for this price. A little goes a long way, so this works out as relatively inexpensive. I came across Too Faced Shadow Insurance in a makeup swap. I use www.makeupalley.com for swapping makeup / beauty bits that I no longer use. I haven't had too much experience of the brand, but have tried some face powders and lip products that I quite liked. I was keen to try this since I'm a fan of eyeshadow primers in general, but have yet to find one with a neat dispenser. My Benefit 'Stay Don't Stray' works really well but too much comes out of the pump in one go! I like my Urban Decay 'Shadow Insurance' but find the applicator wand a bit awkward. My first impressions of Too Faced Shadow Insurance were good. I liked the sleek little tube, appreciating the fact that it wasn't too bulky or likely to take up too much space in my makeup box! The tube is 10ml so it similar in size and shape to a travel sized toothpaste. The design is a bit prettier than a toothpaste tube! It looks quite retro / antique-like with a cameo logo and swirly Victorian style writing. It makes a change from Benefit and Soap & Glory's 1950's style packaging! The product details are all there as you would expect. I was impressed by the applicator / nozzle to the tube. It's long and thin, and when you squeeze it only a small amount will come out of the tiny hole at the top. I think Too Faced have got this spot on. You really don't want too much of a product like this dispensed at a time! I didn't read too much about this product and just applied it in the way I assumed you were meant to! So I squeezed out a tiny amount onto my finger tip - about a quarter the size of a pea. I then split this over two finger tips and blended it onto each eyelid. The texture is like a light moisturizer, and the colour is a light beige. When blended, the colour disappears - it isn't high coverage like a foundation or concealer. The primer is meant to even out any lines / wrinkles and blend out any colour imperfections of your eyelids. At 24 I don't really have much in the way of wrinkles so I can't say if this works or not! It definitely does even out the colour of your lids though. You wouldn't necessarily notice any colour imperfections on your eyelids, but you'd probably notice that your lids look brighter with this on. On that note, I'd say that it'd be a nice addition to bare eyelids as well as worn under eyeshadows, etc. The main goal of an eyeshadow primer is to act as a barrier between your natural oils of your skin and your eye makeup. For some reason my eyelids get quite shiny throughout the day so I really do need a primer that can rectify this. It's gone 4pm now and I applied my primer before my eyeshadow this morning at around 7am. I've just had a check and my eyeshadow is still in place. Still nice and dry with no hint of a shine! I like to wear a full face of makeup for work so that'd mean natural eyeshadow, but full coverage too. I take my eyeshadow base colour right up to the brow bone and have darker colour on the lid / in the crease. I usually wear black or dark brown liquid liner too. Yesterday I wore the same eye makeup as above, with this primer underneath. I was very tired (or lazy!) last night and went to bed with my eye makeup still on! Even worse, my other half insists on that our kitten comes to bed with us and I'm slightly allergic to cats! So with an uncomfortable night of allergy induced itchy, watery eyes, I was very surprised to see all my eyemakeup in tact the next morning! While I know this story doesn't paint me in the best light (crazy cat lady who sleeps with her kitten and can't be bothered to follow a proper skin care routine!), I thought it was important to include so you could appreciate the staying power of this primer. I'm highly impressed with this product. Without an eyeshadow primer I simply wouldn't wear eye makeup (apart from mascara) for a whole day. A few hours in it would start to crease and I'd look ridiculous! With this primer I don't need to give my makeup a second thought. Once it's applied it'll stay put until I want to remove it! While I've found that all high-end eyeshadow primers work well for me, this is by far the best due to the lightweight feel of the product and the precise applicator of the tube. My favourite so far!
REASONS FOR PURCHASE I'd just finished a brilliant James Herbert novel, "The Magic Cottage", and had been keeping my eyes peeled for another one. Because I'm so keen to find bargains, I trawled my local charity shops until I found this one. When I picked this up my friend laughed. Obviously I couldn't see the humour, so I had to ask why! She just told me "You'll see!". I'll go into a bit more detail in my review, but just be warned, this book has some very adult content, which gets very very explicit! (In my opinion anyway, but maybe I'm a prude!). AMAZON'S PRODUCT DESCRIPTION AND PRICE EDIT - I have removed the book's synopsis from my review since this has offended another dooyoo member. If you want to read the actual synopsis of the book, you can of course do so at www.amazon.co.uk. The Amazon.co.uk paperback price for this book is £5.44, although you can pick it up second hand (still from Amazon.co.uk) for as little as 1p! I'm assuming postage and packaging will be charged as well, but it still seems like a bit of a bargain to me! I purchased my copy from a Cancer Research charity shop for £1.49. A LITTLE ABOUT THE STORY Without giving anything away, here is a little bit of background to the story! Thom, the lead character, has just returned to his childhood home after suffering from a stroke. He's a 27 year old carpenter, who up until this point, attended boarding school, then went to live and work in London. Sadly, his mother passed away when Thom as a child, and ever since then he's been taken care of by Sir Russell, the owner of the manor house on which Thom's cottage is situated. Thom's mother was the personal tutor to Hugo, Sir Russell's son. She lived in the cottage on the grounds with Thom, until she passed away. Thom returns to this cottage to relax into the country way of life while he recovers from his stroke. The story develops with introductions to more of the characters. There's Hugo, the ever so posh, nice, slightly dim son of Sir Russell. The groundskeeper and Sir Russell's assistant, both of whom Thom remembers from his childhood. Katie his physiotherapist. Nell, the nurse / alternative therapist, who takes care of Sir Russell (he is now very old and terminally ill). Of course, there are more supernatural characters too, but I don't want to give any of the plot away! As Thom settles back into country life, he remembers more about the castle grounds woodland, meets interesting new characters, and begins on an adventure that soon turns into a quest! MY OPINIONS I was quickly drawn into this story, pretty much by the first page. I always find that impressive since there have been so many books that I've had to force myself to plow into. As with 'The Magic Cottage', James Herbert makes sure that the lead character has the perfect balance of being likeable, interesting, but not overly 'goody two shoes' in that often typical hero or heroinne style. Thom Kindred is very down to earth, and the reader will immediately identify with him and want to read on to find out what he'll get up to! Sometimes with this book, I'd get so into the storyline that I'd be almost skim reading to find out what would happen next. If you read this book please don't make that same mistake! Herbert's style of writing is beautifully descriptive, and if you slow down so that you can take it all in, you'll have fantastically clear images in your head that paint the scenes perfectly (whether they're good, bad or just plain frightening)! What I enjoyed most in this book, are the little twists and turns, and how seemingly insignificant parts of the story would develop, open up, and take you by surprise! There were no loose ends that bothered me when I finished the book. This is an issue that I've often found disappointing, especially in the thriller/chiller/supernatural genre. Throughout the story the characters and settings are described so vividly. Unfortunately, so are the 'intimate' scenes! It seems as though James Herbert can (and will!) go into detail with everything and anything! I was surprised at how early into the story these intimate scenes begin. You'd maybe expect one or two scenes of this nature in a novel intended for adults, but in this book you're looking at one a chapter. And they go on for pages and pages. By the end of the book, I knew to just skim these! After all, I read on the tube and train, and I don't want anyone to blush if they're looking over my shoulder! I've seen other reviews that mention this, and other reviewers felt as though it was padding and that there wasn't enough material for a story without it. I strongly disagree with this. It might be a shorter book without 'the scenes', but it's still a great story and could stand alone as a smaller book, no problem. I'm inclined to overlook this issue; reading about these things in too much detail isn't my cup of tea, but I can appreciate that they're very well written. I know a lot of people enjoy a bit of sauciness in their literature too! All I will say is, you'll definitely know that their written by a man! :P So yes, and there you have the reason why my friend laughed at me for picking up this book! She'd read it and had been taken very much by surprise! My favourite part of this book was the ending. The last few chapters and the build up to them are just perfect. Beautifully written, the scenes and events described so well. Again, I had to force myself not to read too quickly and miss all the wonderful descriptions! You can lose yourself in these last few chapters and really feel like you're there! Finally..... what disappointed me about 'The Magic Cottage' was that I wanted more of a follow up on all the characters after the main event had taken place. With 'Once' I actually wasn't left disappointed at all! James Herbert made sure to let us know what happened to everyone at the end and didn't leave any loose ends whatsoever. All in all, a brilliant supernatural chiller that will quickly draw you in! I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a little bit of escapism from time to time! But I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is offended by adult content!
REASONS FOR PURCHASE I love MAC cosmetics in general, I love blusher, but I always give 'shimmery / sparkly' products a wide birth. Most of the mineralise blushes are indeed shimmery, but if you chose carefully, they aren't overpoweringly so. I've added a few mineralize blushes to my collection, most of these from limited edition collections (MAC bring out a few each year), although there are some mineralize blushes in the permanent range too. They're a couple of pounds more expensive than the standard MAC powder blushes, and generally a bit smaller, but a pot will still last you ages and they're nice for bumping up your collection. ABOUT THE BLUSH Here is what MAC have to say about their mineralize blushes: "Baked minerals refined into a powder formula to provide exceptionally sheer and lightweight application. Colour builds lightly, layer after layer, without heavy coverage. Veils and enhances the cheekbones with a luminous, pearlized shimmer." - MAC Cosmetics UK Apparently 'baked' products are only strictly counted as being 'baked' if they're in their little teraccota pans. MAC baked blushes are still in metal pans, so I guess that makes them imposters in the 'baked' world!? For me this doesn't make any difference whatsoever, but I thought it was quite interesting to know! They get their 'swirliness' from different liquids being merged together and when they dry (or are cooked / baked) into powder form, the pretty swirly patterns of different colours and finishes are your end result. PRICE / AVAILABILITY / APPEARANCE These blusher pots will set you back £19, and seldom can you find them cheaper. MAC don't have sales, but you may get lucky if purchasing MAC from one of their other suppliers (just Debenhams and Selfridges in the UK). Be wary of purchasing MAC from ebay and other online shops. MAC is faked A LOT, although saying that, I haven't yet seen a fake mineralize blush. It's up to you if you want to take the risk or not! You get 3.5g of product in a little sleek black pot. This is less than a standard MAC blush, but is still a good amount. The pan is about the size of a large Christmas chocolate coin, and the product itself is raised in a dome, so you do get a fair bit in there. The little pots have a clear pastic lid, so you get to see just how attractive the blushes are. To give you a few examples, I have one that is called 'Daft Pink' and has lots of different pink and yellow tones swirled together. It looks almost like a plannet! And another I have is called 'Giggly' and is a simple baby pink colour, but with a shimmery lilac heart design baked into the middle. APPLICATION Regardless of whether a blush is sheer or very pigmented, I like to use a smaller blusher brush to make sure I don't get carried away / end up looking like a clown! I use a small MAC brush that isn't tapered / fanned (although these are just as good!). You can apply your blush on bare skin, over moisurizer, tinted moisturizer, any type of foundation (be it liquid, powder, cream), and so on! None of the mineralize blushes I've tried have been as pigmented as say, some of the matte blushes, but they do still provide a good colour payoff from product, to brush, to face. Some may look very shimmery in the pot, but luckilyl shimmer is that that's there. No unslightly big chunks of glitter are present! With these blushes, I like to start with a small amount, so may just swirl my brush over the product very lightly. I then always apply to my cheek bones in an upwards and circular motion. I take the blush as far up as my temples if I'm using a fairly sheer colour. I find this balances the look and adds a nice highlighting quality. I may then go and add a bit more to my cheek bones, depending on how much I love the colour and how carried away I get! I haven't yet come across a mineralize blush with a bad colour payoff / finish, be it a peach, bronze, pink or lilac toned colour I'm using. Once on, you can chose to set your blush with a transparent finishing powder. This might give you a few more hours of wear, but I tend not to favour this method because I find it 'mutes' the colour / finish of your blush a little bit. Without anything to 'set' the blush, it'll last you as long as your foundation and everything else lasts. In fact, sometimes I'll notice my foundation has worn away, apart from the patches with blush on top! So I think the best indication would be to say that you'll need to reapply your blush if and when you reapply your foundation. OVER ALL I like these for a change. I wear blusher every day and most days do automatically reach for a matte MAC blusher. However, some of my absolute favourites are mineralize blushes, I just tend to save them for a special treat! I can't fault these products, but it would be nice to see more of them in the permanent range! At the moment there are only 4 or 5 permanent mineralize blushes and I'd like to see a few more! If you love your beauty products to look as pretty in your makeup box, as they do on your face, I assure you that you won't be able to resist some of these! They do the job as well as any other MAC blush (ie, very well!), and despite their high price tag, are a makeup box must have for me!
WHY I CHOSE THIS BOOK My partner's mum often recommends books for me to read, and this was one of the ones on an ever growing pile from her! I love fantasy / supernatural / thriller type books and don't often read 'chic lit' type books. I was assured that James Herbert's 'The Magic Cottage' would suit me down to a tee! I'm so glad I read this. I've now starting working my way through all his other novels too! PRICE / AVAILABILITY / PRODUCT DESCRIPTION "A cottage was found in the heart of the forest. It was charming maybe, a little run-down, but so peaceful - a magical haven for creativity and love. But the cottage had an alternative side - the bad magic. What happened there was horrendous beyond belief. " - AMAZON.CO.UK While I borrowed this book, I have since managed to pick up a few James Herbert books from charity shops. Charity shops, jumble sales and boot sales are all great places to buy second hand books, but if not there is always Amazon (where this one is available new from £1.35 or used from 1p!). ABOUT The story begins with a young couple, Midge (an artist / illustrator of children's books) and Mike (a musician / song writer). Fed up with life in London, Midge encourages Mike into the idea of living in the country. Eventually they find a little cottage for sale. The cottage of an eldery widow who had recently passed away. It is in a remote location, a reasonable drive away from the main village, surrounded by woodland and wildlife. The sale of the cottage had some unusual conditions tied to it. The solicitor needed to meet the couple first to decide whether they would be 'suitable' residents, as per the requirements of the late owner's Will. A few odd things start to happen soon after they move in, but nothing too alarming. They also meet a few of the village residents, as well as a group of young people who live in a big manor house the other side of the woods. These people belong to a group called the synergists, and there is speculation around whether this 'group' is a religion, way of life, or even a cult. MY THOUGHTS Even though the beginning was very 'normal' (in the sense of regular people, buying a cottage, moving from the city to the countryside), I was still drawn in straight away. This could be put down to James Herbert's excellent style of writing. He clearly hasn't been named Britain's Number 1 Writer of Chiller Fiction for no reason! Straight away, the lead characters come across as interesting, likeable people a reader can relate to. All too often, I've given up with a book early on because I don't like the characters! Midge, the dreamer, and Mike, the voice of reason, are portrayed very realistically in their build up to buying the cottage and moving there. The leading chapters seem all too real and 'every day', giving the reader a false sense of security that nothing bad, and certainly nothing supernatural could happen here! The mysterious goings on and little hints here and there, do start shining through early. This guarentees to keep the reader turning the pages! I read this a lot of the train to work and didn't want to stop reading when I got to my stop! The twists and turns don't seem overly dramatic, which is quite clever really. It's all subtle enough to make you think "well maybe this really could happen in real life?". The character's reactions are spot on too. There were no parts in this novel that made me lose my attention, no chapters that I wanted to skim through so I could get to the end quicker. I enjoyed this book from start to finish, even the ending which was a little too far fetched for me! So yes, the beginning is the perfect lead up to the main story, where the unusual goings on start to happen. However, as much as I enjoyed the ending, I would have liked a little more of a follow up after. The big climax at the end was described in amazingly vivid detail. All the description and the portrayal of the characters worked together to create a clear image in your mind and you could picture exactly what was taking place. Not entirely scary as such, since I always find the more suble goings on scariest, but still very exciting and magical! On the whole I think this fantastically detailed climax may have gone on for a few more pages than necessary, where instead, it could have drawn to a close. In which case, maybe some more detail could be added after the climax. Instead, the story was quickly wrapped up and closed. OVER ALL I can't fault this book, and if you enjoy supernatural thriller type reads I think you'll definitely enjoy The Magic Cottage, or any of James Herbert's novels! I thought about knocking a star off for the quick ending, but actually, I think this just goes to show how enjoyable the story really was! I simply didn't want it to end, and was cross that it did! A 5 out of 5 rating for a book that held my attention from start to finish!
REASONS FOR PURCHASE When I was younger I'd invest a lot of time and pocket money in trying to find a good mascara that'd give me long, full lashes like all the other girls! Sadly, I'm not blessed in the eyelash department! Since I've got older, and have more disposable income, I've started testing each and every higher end branded mascara (not to mention extensions, miricle growth serums, false lashes, and so on!). MAC aren't really known for making good mascaras. Not that there's anything wrong with them, it's just that mascara doesn't seem to be their 'thing'. Good selection of colour and finishes in their lipsticks, eyeshadows and blushers are what I associate MAC with the most. Never the less, I've tried a few very average MAC mascaras already this year, and decided to try this one after being assured by the salesman / makeup artist, that it'd give me long lashes "Like the girls off this series of the UK's Next Top Model" (apparently he worked on that series and used this mascara). I bought MAC False Lashes Mascara along with a Prep + Prime lash primer, which I've reviewed separately. I wasn't all that enamoured so tend to use this mascara alone. WHAT MAC SAY "Fashionably false in look, but honestly real, this mascara's key benefits of volume and curl are matched by a dramatic end look. The unique edge: the ultra-thickening formula in combo with the plush-'em-up action of its unique double-lush brush." PRICE / AVAILABILITY / APPEARANCE This mascara retails at £17.50 and you'd be extremely lucky to find it cheaper anywhere. MAC never have sales, although MAC do have counters in some Debenhams stores and in Selfridges, so you might end up with a money off voucher you could use towards this. If you're not in London (or prepared to travel up there), and not able to get to a Selfridges or Debenhams with a MAC counter, then your best bet would be to purchase this online. The mascara is available through MAC's own website, the Debenhams website, and the Selfridges website. If you're paying more than £30 at the moment, MAC online offer free standard delivery. The mascara and one other item would more than likely take you over the £30 mark. The False Lashes mascara is a good £3 to £4 more expensive that MAC's other mascaras, and it looks as though they've tried to justify this in the design of the tube. The tube is sleek and black (so nothing unusual there), but has a stylish yet unusual shaped handle / lid, making it stand out from any others on the market. The wand is quite standard looking, tapered at the tip, but nothing different or unusual. This is quite pleasing for me. I like a standard bristle brush, rather than some of the newer types where they're made of plastic or rubber. I personally find that bristles give the greatest amount of coverage. APPLICATION Well the mascara is as straight forward to apply as any other 'sensible' mascara (ie, not one of the ridiculous comb or rubber wand type gimmicky mascaras). If you wear makeup, you'll have worked with a wand like this before and encounter no problems. The brush is tapered down to the tip, making it easier than you might expect to get good coverage on the smaller inner lashes. Using the tip is good for lower lashes too, although of course, use it in whatever way suits you! The product itself applies nice and smoothly. Evenly as well. I haven't had any clumping issues here. A couple of coats do indeed add length to your lashes. But really, these days all the lengthening mascaras do. So I don't think that in itself is anything to get too excited about. The thing I like about applying this mascara is you don't need to worry about timing. And I mean this in a sense of not having to rush to get a second coat in before the first coat dries, and equally, not having to wait for the first coat to apply before you apply the second. Whether or not you apply your second coat onto wet or dry mascara doesn't make a difference. You won't end up with nasty clumps or spider leg lashes. You don't need to apply a second coat to be honest. I only wear one coat of this mascara on a work day. One coat is more than enough. I'm pleased to say that the False Lashes mascara lasts well all day and doesn't really flake or smudge. It's not a water-proof mascara, but won't let you down when it comes to every day water encounters such as rain or watery eyes (it's been fine for me despite various allergies that make my eyes stream!). There aren't any problems when it comes to removing it, it lifts off easily with any eye makeup remover, makeup wipes, etc. For a more dramatic look, you might like to use this one with a primer underneath. One of those 'white' mascaras. I use the MAC Prep + Prime one from time to time, and it might give an extra millimetre or so of length. Neither a primer or the mascara itself make my lashes curl though, so all you'll be getting is extra length. OVER ALL THOUGHTS At the moment, this is the second best mascara I have on the go (out of about four). It doesn't rate as highly as Lancome Hypnose for me, since it doesn't manage to give an extra curl to my lashes. There's by no means anything wrong with it, and the price is fairly reasonable for a good quality mascara. Sadly for MAC, there's just too much competition when it comes to mascara. Diorshow (more volume), YSL's Faux Cils (more length) and Lancome Hypnose (better all round) are all similarly priced and so much better. If you want a mascara from MAC this is probably the best one they have. It ticks all the boxes with regards to length, longetivy, coverage, design, ease of application, but it just doesn't have that unique selling point. I rate MAC False Lashes a respectable 3 out of 5, but realistically if you're spending £17.50 on a mascara you can get something much better.
REASONS FOR PURCHASE Up until a few months ago, I was pretty lucky with my skin and was looking for a tinted moisturiser for the summer. I didn't have many specifications other than a colour to match my skintone and a reasonable level of SPF. I love MAC in general, so when I realised they had a tinted moisturiser, I headed to the Covent Garden MAC Store to buy this. For me, the lightest colour which is simply named 'Light' was most suitable. PRICE / AVAILABILITY / APPEARANCE The RRP of this is £20 and you're getting a generous 40ml tube. You can buy from a MAC Store (as far as I know the UK ones are only based in London), from a MAC counter in a Department store (Selfridges and some Debenham branches stock MAC) or from MAC online. Unfortunately with MAC, you can rarely find a bargain. You'll most likely have to pay full price, but you can console yourself with knowing you're getting an extra 10ml compared to most foundations which come as 30ml bottles / tubes! The tube is simple and sleek. Pale silver plastic with a flash of colour (the colour of the tint that you've chosen). The product details are all there on the tube, and it has a smooth matte black screw top lid. THE MAC WRITE-UP "A light, tinted moisturiser with SPF 15 and other skin-nourishing ingredients. An easy one one-step finish specially suited for the season, this sheer tint provides just enough coverage to even out the skintone while creating a flawless protected, softly moisturised finish. Suitable for all skintones." FINISH What I like about this one is that you don't really need to worry about a primer, and obviously you don't need to apply a moisturiser first either! With it being less pigmented than a foundation, you don't need to spend as much time blending. You can chose to quickly blend this all over your face with your finger tips and you'll look lovely and natural. No streaking or 'tide marks'. Since my skin has steadily got worse over the last few months (I put this down to my pregnancy!), I don't find that it provides good enough coverage. This one is ideal for skin that is mostly blemish free. It'll cover the odd faded spot or any unevenness of skin tone / colour, but it's not ideal for evening out major imperfections. Chances are, if you knew you wanted high coverage, you wouldn't be looking at tinted moisturisers anyway. As far as this compares to other tinted moisturisers, it does indeed provide a good level of coverage. So after you have blended this onto your face (I suggest a blob the size of a large pea), you're left with a nice, healthy moisturised finish, and any minor imperfections ironed out. You can then chose to apply your powders, bronzers or blushes if you like, but this'll still look great worn alone. Unlike heavy foundations, you won't need to add the expression back into your face! COLOUR Unlike MAC foundations, this tinted moisturiser only comes in seven shades. I use the lightest, and this would be ideal for most pale people. Medium if you have a bit of a tan, and then the darker shades if you're olive skinned or darker. The Light was fine for me and I'm usually a shade up from whatever is the palest foundation in any brand. LONGEVITY The tint lasts a full day on my skin, which may be expected since the moisturising element will stop it from drying out or cracking. In terms of lasting in the tube, I think that with every day use, you could have this on the go for around 6 months. You don't need loads and you're getting that 40ml which is quite a generous size. OVER ALL This is an ideal tinted moisturiser for anyone with reasonably good skin. For problem skin, I'd recommend sticking with a foundation, perhaps a lighter coverage one for summer. This ticks all the boxes for easy application, sun protection, good colour and is long lasting. For £20 it is a little more expensive than some, but a tube is large enough to last you half the year.
REASONS FOR PURCHASE I bought a few Jemma Kidd Make Up School goody bags from TK Maxx last month, and this was one of the surprises in one of the bags. After discovering the RRP of £17 for this blush duo I was quite pleased with myself. The goody bags were £10 ish each and contained 3 Jemma Kidd makeup bits and a makeup bag! The colour I have is 02 Clear Pink / Rose. I hadn't tried Jemma Kidd makeup, other than a lipgloss, up until this point. I was quite impressed and will go into the details why during my review! ABOUT THE BLUSH From the Jemma Kidd website: "Tailored Colour Powder Blush Duo Day to night colour choice or mix on the palette for perfect colour match, contouring and shaping. Highly blendable for natural finish." From the Space NK website: "This versatile cheek colour compact offers a lightweight, easily blendable, creme textured blush duo. With a day to night colour choice, you can mix on the palette for perfect colour match, contouring and shaping. Application # Smile and find the round apple of the cheek # Apply colour to the centre with the fingertips # Blend along cheek bone, ensuring not to go too high up the cheekbone or too low onto the face" PRICE / AVAILABILITY The RRP is £17 and three different versions (various duo compacts with varying shades of pink and peach) are available from http://www.spacenk.co.uk. A quick search on Google Shopping will show you that you can pick this compact up for as little as £9 including free shipping. These blush compacts come up on various bargain beauty websites like Beauty Bay, Cheap Smells and Direct Cosmetics. I assume it is because these blushes have been available for a few years now that they're available on discount websites. APPEARANCE The blush duo is in a round matte black compact with a mirror inside. It is quite a good sized blush, larger than a MAC blush. Since MAC blushes last for years I'm assuming this one will too! The colours are a bright / hot pink and a pale, shimmery almost translucent peach / pink. The blush is split down the middle with half of each colour. Jemma Kidd Makeup School cosmetics come with a handy leaflet giving you application advice. This is included in the main packaging and is worth keeping hold of if you're a bit of a makeup novice. APPLICATION The blush brushes that I use happen to be from MAC and I've tried each blush with various types of brushes. I favour bold colours for blush, so I mostly use the bright pink half of the compact. I find this works well with my small MAC blush brush. A larger brush wouldn't give you as precise an application, and since this is a fairly pigmented matte colour, you could end up looking a bit too flushed, or even a bit clown-like! A small feathered brush works well too if you're after a sweeping high cheek boned look! The pale more translucent blush is great for a much more subtle, 'barely there', daytime look, and you can get away with applying this less precisely. Small blush or small feathered brushes are fine, but you can also get away with using a larger blush brush or even a powder brush. If you have a tan, this paler shade would look great lightly dusted over your forehead, cheekbones, brow bones and even dotted on your nose and chin. Just use a large powder brush and a light touch. Both these colours pick up onto a brush easily, without over powering it. This is ideal because you can sweep it into the powder a few times to get more, or you can stick with the subtle look. Both glide onto the skin with ease, whether it's on top of powder, foundation, or just plain bare skin (it works over moisturised skin too and doesn't clump anywhere as you may expect). STAYING POWER With a primer and foundation underneath, there's no reason why this blush won't see you through a whole day. Personally, I don't find it the most long lasting of blushes, but it's a great one to carry around with you (what with it's easy to open / close compact style and the added bonus of a mirror). So just pop this one and a brush into your handbag and you can reapply whenever you feel the need. Of course, if you're like me, you might not mind your blush fading a bit, but if you love a heavily made up look then you might want to investigate ways of making this one last longer. (I'd suggest perhaps a subtle MAC creme colour base underneath, or a translucent setting powder over the top.) As far as long lasting in the pan goes, I've had this for quite a few weeks, have used it a lot, and can't see any sign of use at all. I'd say that you'd get your value for money in this sense, especially if you manage to get a price under the RRP. COLOUR The brighter of the two colours is my personal favourite, and even better, it's a colour that I love and haven't managed to find from either of my two tried and trusted brands for good blushes (that would be MAC and Benefit). I would say it's just the right level of brightness to show that you're wearing make up and look 'made up' and polished, but it doesn't go beyond that and make you look over the top. I would describe it as a pretty mid toned matte pink, not too pigmented but not too subtle. The lighter colour is one that I wouldn't usually chose, but is ideal for highlighting areas to give a sun kissed glow, or to give your cheeks a hint of definition if you're not usually one for blush. It is somewhat shimmery, sheer, and what I would describe as a nude / peach / pink. Sorry if that sounds a little vague! Both colours are good ones to have in your collection, and it's a nice little bonus that you're getting two in one! OVER ALL I probably wouldn't have ever tried this blush duo compact if it wasn't in my goody bag. Now it's the blush that I reach for the most when applying my every day makeup. The compact with mirror feature make it really useful to have when you're on the go too! If you're not all that into a huge collection of makeup, I would highly recommend this as your blush stable. I don't think you would need any others if you have your duo compact! The RRP of £17 is a little off-putting to those who don't spend a fortune on makeup, so just keep an eye out for any bargains on google shopping and on ebay! :)
WHY I SWITCHED TO LIDL My partner and I are frantically trying to save at the moment, and one of my concerns was the money we spend on groceries each week. Usually £65 a week, not including food and litter for our cats! We have a Lidl near us, and gradually started buying some of our groceries there. Now we do the full weekly shop in Lidl each week. ABOUT LIDL "We are a successful chain of grocery stores, expanding strongly throughout Europe and beyond its borders. Simplicity is the cornerstone of our success, and the benchmark for all our operations and work processes. We buy and sell with the aim of offering our customers everyday top quality products at the lowest possible price." The stores are popping up all over the UK, so if you live in or near a bit town or city, chances are you'll be within driving distance of a store. THE WEEKLY SHOP FROM START TO FINISH Firstly, remember to have a pound coin to hand if you want a trolley! Same as some other supermarkets (Morrisons) but unlike others (Tesco). I personally don't mind this since it saves the carpark and parking spaces being full of abandoned trollies! And obviously you get your pound back at the end of your shop :P Lidl's is well set out, and everything is 'where it should be'. The fresh stuff all together, frozen stuff all together and so on. A lot of people assume it's a bit of a mish mash in a cheaper supermarket like Lidl, but not at all! If you go with a basic list of things you need for your weekly shop, there's no reason why you won't be able to find everything you need. In some cases you'll get the same brands you get elsewhere, and on other cases you'll have to improvise with brands you'll be unfamiliar with. Fruit & Vegetables: I find Lidl brilliant for fruit and vegetables, but there are a few things I couldn't find on my first few shops. I actually thought they didn't stock broccoli or cauliflower but I'd actually been looking where all the loose vegetables were, when it had been in the fridge section the whole time. So yes, Lidl is great for all your fresh produce. Very reasonably priced, great selection and everything I've had has been lovely. I'm particularly fond of their huge, juice avocados at the moment, and their selection of Mediterranean veg such as courgettes and aubergines. All great sizes and juicy and tasty! Fresh meat: For fresh meat, Lidl has all your basics, but nothing too fancy. Whereas in Tesco, you can chose from hundreds of types of chicken escallops and kievs, different flavoured breasts, thighs, wings, and whatever else, in Lidl it's all basic. Good. But basic. If you're looking for quick and simple meal solutions you won't really find much variety in the fresh meat section. If you like to create your own dishes from scratch or like your meat plain, then you'll be fine. I've never had a problem finding my essentials such as steak mince, pork chops, chicken breasts, braising steak.. so yep, all the basics but nothing fancy. Deli bits: Lidl does have a great deli section though, and although you might have reservations about the different brands (like me!), my other half finds great things to have for his packed lunches here! They do all sorts of different cold meats for sandwiches, lots of different pasta salads / potato salads, and a whole host of other deli bits. The ham in particular is very good value for money. Great big packs of good quality meat for 99p! They also have a family sized lasagne in this section of the store that I adore. It's the best ready made lasagne I've ever tried! Only a couple of pounds too! Random non-food items: One of my favourite parts of the store is the section of random non food bits in the middle! You can find everything here from a bathroom cabinet to a motorcycle helmet! We've bought both these things in the past and couldn't have got a cheaper deal elsewhere. Definitely worth keeping your eyes peeled in this section because the stock is ever changing and you'll never know what you might find! Stock Cupboard Essentials: You'll find a lot of your brands elsewhere in the store, and for example, you can get your Heinz ketchup no problem, your Kingsmill loaves, your Robinson's squash and so on. A lot of these items will have good offers on and you can get them cheaper than in any of the other supermarkets. We've also tried a lot of brands we've never heard of before and had some brilliant pesto and other pasta sauces, curry sauces and other things like these. Snacks: In the crisps and snacks sections we've been happy to try other brands and have been impressed by every single item. In some cases I'm more wary of trying things I've never had before. I was wary of the probiotic yogurts from a different brand, but forced myself to try them and they were fine! I need to be a bit braver! Frozen: Their frozen section is definitely worth a browse and you can get some real bargains here too. We get pizzas for 99p that are big and tasty, and also packs of 2 thin pizzas for £1.99 that are delicious and have lovely toppings. You can find all the usual items in the frozen section, so no need to have to go elsewhere (unless you're after something VERY specific of course). Diary: Cheeses, butter, eggs, all these things are available too with a great variety. I can still get my free range organic eggs, which are still reasonably priced (although obviously cheaper than their battery eggs). Toiletries & Household: They have a great selection of all the household non food bits too, you can get everything that you'd get in any other supermarket such as toiletries (some brands you know, some you won't), cleaning products, loo rolls, etc. OVER ALL When I did my first full weekly shop for me and my partner at Lidl, it came to £35! At Tesco the previous week it had come to £65. Admittedly, we'd had to switch brands on around a third of our purchases, but we still had the same amounts and the same types of things. I was so shocked and amazed that I didn't mind paying the 3p each for carrier bags :P You might just decide to take your own bags for life and save a few extra pennies though! So I'm now a Lidl convert and won't weekly shop anywhere else if I can help it. If there are a few bits I need from elsewhere I can pop into a big Tesco store midweek and get them for a few pounds extra. This doesn't bother me in the slightest though because I'd forget something every week anyway and have to pop into another shop. Lidl is a 5 out of 5 for me because of all the pleasant surprises in the way of new brands, and because of the amazingly huge weekly saving I'm getting each week!
ABOUT MAKEUP ALLEY "MakeupAlley was launched in 1999 as a small community of beauty consumers. Since then it has grown into one of the largest beauty social networks and information portals on the web. On MakeupAlley you can connect with thousands of other consumers through our message boards, user generated product reviews, MUA mail and other interactive tools." THE WEBSITE AS A WHOLE The website layout is over all user friendly. The colour scheme is pink and girly, and this fits in with the theme of makeup / cosmetics / beauty. The tabs along the top will take you to whatever you want to go to, be it your mail, discussion boards, swapping pages, reviews, your profile, your diary, links and favourites. I'll discuss the main sections from here further into the review since there is a lot of detail to some! The main webpage gives you a selection of all the site has to offer, with some of the top / most recent reviews displayed, a selection of user photos (members of the site sometimes upload photos for their reviews), and a list of the top 'trending' topics from their discussion boards. With Makeup Alley you have the option of joining the site so you can create a profile, swap items and review items. Or you can use the site as a guest and benefit from reading other member's reviews of products. I wouldn't necessarily recommend signing up as a member if you know you'll only use the site for reading other reviews, but if you feel as though you'd like to get more involved, its quite quick and it's free to sign up. So far, I haven't experienced any website crashes or had problems with pages taking a long time to upload. I think this is a real positive sign from a website which clearly has such a high number of visitors each day! THE PRODUCT REVIEWS Makeup Alley really is your one stop shop for getting a feel of a product when you're unsure whether or not to buy it! Although I love Dooyoo for reviews, which are often way more in depth, Makeup Alley has the benefit of being exclusive to beauty and therefore has a larger selection of beauty products with reviews from a range of members. It's helpful that above each member review you have the reviewers details such as age group, skin tone, eye colour and so on. This means you can get a feel of whether or not they're similar to you if they like or dislike something. It's no good an 18 year old loving a particular lipstick, if you're 50 years old and are a completely different colouring! You can filter the reviews so, for example, you only see reviews of the particular product, from people in your age bracket. Members also have the option of uploading pictures with their reviews. For most products you can see some photos which is very useful indeed when trying to decide if a product is right for you! All the reviews of a certain product go towards giving it an over all rating out of 5 and % rating. Very useful to see at a glance if you don't have time to read too much! Obviously, if you're a member, you can add your own reviews too. So if you want to have your say about a product, but it's not in the dooyoo catalogue, maybe check here as well! THE MESSAGE BOARDS The site gives members the option of participating in group discussions and starting their own discussions. These fall into categories or either Beauty or Lifestyle, and then into subcategories such as makeup, hair, fragrance (for the beauty boards) and fashion, weddings, food (for the lifestyle boards). The boards seem quite fast paced with new topics forever being added. It seems a little 'clicky' with a lot of members almost knowing each other! For this reason I don't participate, but I can appreciate that posting a question here would guarantee you an answer! For example, if you wanted to know what everyone viewed as 'the best lipstick of all time' you'd quickly get a lot of opinions! My gripe with the message boards compared to those on similar websites is that they're a bit poorly laid out. New posts are dumped under old posts, and responses to posts not clearly separated from new posts. I may be describing this poorly, so imagine a page of typed font with bullet points, and some of those bullet points having sub points underneath, and some of those sub points with their own sub points underneath... You see what I mean! The 'MY MAKEUP ALLEY' This part of the website is pretty much where you can upload any of your own information that you want to share. You can upload photos of anything makeup related. So if you want to show off your recent purchases, your makeup stash, or the perfect smokey eye effect you've just created, then this is the place to do it! You can include any written information about yourself too. Highly useful if you want to swap things (I'll talk about swapping soon!). You can do all the usual things here that you'd expect to do in a website where you create an account. So you can change passwords, change email address linked to the site and so on. THE SWAPS I love Makeup Alley for this reason the most! You can create a list of all the makeup items you've bought and don't want any more. It's easy to upload items as you just find the brand and item type from drop down lists, then add the title and a quick description. Items you upload are active straight away, and everyone else around the world can see what you have to offer! You can view a list of all the swaps people have to offer and do this by looking at the most recently added items and just seeing what you fancy, or by searching for something specific. You can create a 'wishlist' of items you'd particularly like to receive in a swap, so if anyone has any of these, they can message you and let you know! It's easy to message someone and ask if they'd like to swap - you just do this from clicking on the item of theirs that catches your interest. A swap would just get worked out through the Makeup Alley Mail (messaging system) and you'll decide what items you're swapping and exchange addresses. Feedback tokens are left after swaps, and it's not unusual for someone with a lot of these tokens to ask someone with few of these, to post their items first. This helps to minimize stealing (or swaplifting) as it's a case of building up trust and a good reputation. I've had some lovely swaps through Makeup Alley and exchanged makeup I don't use for some that I've been dying to try for ages. It's a great way to get limited edition items if you missed the particular collections during their time online or in store. THE MAIL This pretty much ties in with the swapping, although you can message any members for other reasons, such as for more information on a product review or message board discussion. The messages are pretty instant and you'll get an envelope image flag up next to the 'mail' tab if you have an unread message. You'll also get an email notification which is useful if you don't check the site too often. I haven't had any problems with the messages, and all the mail I've sent has reached the recipients straight away. THE DIARY Here you can keep a list of all your recent swaps and purchases. Very useful but I don't tend to use this feature. Something very depressing about seeing how much money you're spending over the months! But handy to have the feature as a quick point of reference! You can view other member's diaries so you can see what people are buying on any given day, and work out if you're spending way more than everyone else! :P THE LINKS Here, there is a list of useful cosmetic and beauty related website addresses. Makeup Alley is primarily a US based website, so some of these may not be relevant to the UK dweller. The websites are generally charitable or generally working towards the 'greater good'. Links are to sites where you can donate unwanted cosmetics to women's refuges, or to sites where you can buy eco-friendly makeup. All well and good, but like I said, these are all based in the states. I wouldn't say this section is of any use to a UK resident so I don't tend to ever click here. THE FAVOURITES Here you can create lists of all your favourite cosmetic and beauty items. As with the diary section, I don't use this, but it seems like a useful feature to offer and is as easy to use as the rest of the site. No harm in having it here I suppose and I may use something like this if I had the time! I imagine it would be useful if you often come across things you like and then promptly forget what they are! OVER ALL My favourite things about Makeup Alley are the swapping and reviewing features. In some ways it's a shame that there isn't a UK version of this site, but over all there are a lot of UK members to swap with (if you don't like posting overseas), and having the international aspect means that you can read about and potentially swap for things you can't get in this country. My one stop shop for makeup! I love this site and it's fast becoming one of my favourites! I'd consider marking the site down for the 'messy' message boards, but to be honest, if they weren't there at all, I wouldn't even think of it! To be fair on the website I will give Makeup Alley the 5 out of 5 that it deserves!
I'm not a fan of James Patterson novels although I've read one or two before. While they're well written, the detective / crime genre just isn't my thing. My partner's mum gave me this one and assured me that I would love it. I'd been told that I'd get through it in a few hours, so figured if I didn't like it, I didn't have anything to lose! AVAILABILITY / PRICE I'm not going to ramble too much about where you can get this, and how much for; I will say that it's a title you can get hold of quite easily. If you don't manage to find it in your local book shop or supermarket, try a quick Google Shopping search. You can pick this up second hand quite cheaply. This has also been made into a 'made for TV' type movie, so if books aren't your thing and you think the story sounds interesting, it might be worth looking out for! :) ABOUT The story starts with Kate, who has just been left by her long term parter Matt. After going through an evening of utter heartbreak, Kate discovers the next morning, a package outside her door which contains a diary. There is a note from Matt asking her to read the diary which will partly explain his actions. Kate begins to read the diary. 'Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas'. It soon becomes clear that Suzanne is Matt's ex wife, and Nicholas his baby son. The story twists and turns between the reactions of Kate, and a little more insight into her life, and to the life of Suzanne, Matt and Nicholas (explained through Suzanne's Diary). Through all the twists and turns, Kate gains an understanding of Matt's previous life. (I won't say anything else here for fear of giving the plot away!). MY THOUGHTS When I read the back cover and the first few pages, I thought "Here we go! Another Chic Lit romance novel!". Really not my thing but I'll plow through so as not to offend my partner's mum who loves it. I can honestly say, that despite my first reservations, it didn't take long at all for me to get into the story. The way James Patterson tells a story is genius. There's a reason why this man is an international best seller! Somehow you feel like you know the characters from the word go, and can relate to all of them. The story reads well, flows, and is no effort whatsoever to get through. The book flips between chapters of Suzanne's diary, and chapters in the present, about Kate and her reactions to what she's reading. They interlink easily and it's no challenge trying to keep up with what's going on. As the story develops further there are some real twists, turns and shock surprises. Some real emotional parts too. You'll find yourself nearly moved to tears in places! OVER ALL I was really surprised that this book was written by the same author who writes all the crime best sellers! Though, thinking about it, it contains some really surprising twists that you probably won't see coming. Something James Patterson does so well in his usual novels too! I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read that they can get through in the space of a day. Ideal for reading by the pool on your holiday. This book is like nothing I've read before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. On the negative front, there were a few 'cliche / corny' parts to the story. Especially an annoying motto that Matt and Suzanne had. I guess maybe it is more annoying to a hardened Brit than perhaps it would be to the US target market? Even so, it's nothing bad enough to warrant a deduction in stars, so it's still 5 out of 5 from me!
ABOUT THE RESTAURANT Wahaca is a chain of London restaurants that serve Mexican 'street food'. They offer a range of different mini dishes, where you can order 2 or 3 each and share them amongst your group or have them to yourself! And some main courses where you don't need to worry about sharing! (I love my food and don't like to share!). MY INTRODUCTION TO WAHACA The Covent Garden branch of Wahaca is nearest to my work, which is why I come here the most (even though the Soho branch has a Mojito bar!). I was introduced to the chain by my previous boss, who took me here one lunch and ordered half the menu! If any friends say they fancy a Mexican meal, I'll always try and steer them here rather than anywhere else. I'll go into detail as to why in my own thoughts section of the review! LOCATION The Covent Garden branch of Wahaca is very accessible for anyone in Central London. Your best option would be a tube to either Covent Garden tube station, or Charing Cross tube station. It's about a 5 minute walk from either of those, and a 2 minute walk from the main 'market' section of Covent Garden. If that location isn't convenient enough, check Wahaca's website since there are 3 or 4 more branches in London. PRICE RANGE A meal at Wahaca can work out quite cheaply. If you go for the street food option of ordering 2 to 3 small dishes per person, you'd be spending about £10 per head on food. The small dishes are £3 to £4 each. A cheaper option is to stick to a main course as these vary between £6 and £9. You can of course order a variety of side dishes (rice, coleslaw, potatoes) costing between £2 and £3 each. Drinks are pretty standard in price and a soft drink such as a fresh fruit juice will cost you a couple of pounds. You can have a Mexican beer for around £4, or a cocktail for £5 something. Last but not least, desserts are around £3 something each, and coffees around £2 each! So you're looking at around £10 to £15 per head, depending on what you order. Not too bad for Central London, although obviously not the cheapest around. A SUMMARY OF MY MOST RECENT WAHACA VISIT I came to this branch of Wahaca around two weeks ago. It was a friend's birthday and I know she loves Mexican food. I was pleased to be able to show off my inside knowledge of where's good to eat, and knew that if you like Mexican food in general, you'd find it very difficult not to like Wahaca! As I suspected, everyone loved their meal! We arrived at the Covent Garden branch around 6pm on a Friday. Booking isn't necessary and we were shown to a table immediately. The waiter was a little confused about a 4th guest joining our table who was running a bit late. He did try and get us to wait at the bar, but we assured him he wouldn't be long! We were then shown to a 4 seat table without any fuss. The table formations are quite well thought out, not too near the next group, which I find is a common issue in busy Central London restaurants. We were seated on a table with chairs one side, and a comfy looking bench the other. As a pregnant lady I can get a bit achey sitting in a hard chair for a while, so I headed straight for the cushioned bench seating! The other chairs looked a bit uncomfortable, although my friends that sat there had no complaints! We were sat quite near the kitchen, which is open plan, so you can see the food being prepared and get to eye up all the dishes going onto the serving hatch while you wait for your own! Before we ordered, our waiter explained how the Wahaca dining experience worked, and gave us all a briefing on the street food menu and how you could order a couple of little dishes, or one main course. He then left us the menus and put some pots of chili sauces on our table. We chose our drinks next as our 4th guest had arrived. My friends had Coronas which were £3.60 each, and I had a Citrus Fizz at £1.55. It's pretty much a mojito without the rum. Still very yummy! Next was the all important main course chosing! From my previous visits, I knew that my favourite dish was the pork pilpil - slow cooked pork all chopped up into little bits in a delicious (but hard to describe!) marinade! For this reason I chose a main course to myself, the Pork Torta at £6.50, which is as great big Mexican style sandwich with guacamole, beans and salad. My friends opted for 2 dishes each from the street food menu, and chose a selection of tortillas, tacos, quesadillas with fillings such as slow cooked pork, chicken and refried beans. They also had a few sides such as little fried potato cubes and Mexican green rice. The waiter took our orders, and helpfully explained what each chili sauce was like in terms of hotness and what sort of meat it complimented. When our food arrived I was very excited with my Pork Torta! It was piled heavily with yummy slow cooked pork! And the size of the bun it was in was impressive too! I wasn't worried that I hadn't ordered any sides! The flavour is amazing - some sort of delicious barbeque taste that I could never recreate at home! The guacamole and beans weren't overpowering or noticeable really, which was a relief for me because I'm not a great fan of either! My friends loved their dishes too, and were impressed with the sizes. They all agreed that 2 street food dishes each was more than enough. We love to eat, so I think they expected the sizes to be on the small side. They really weren't! The tacos for example, you get 3 good sized ones in your one portion. The portions of rice appeared to be small, in ramekin dishes, but you didn't seem to need a lot as my friends couldn't eat it all. We didn't have dessert on this occasion, and I was sad to see that the chili chocolate icecream that I had adored in the past had been taken off the menu! If the standard of it is anything to go by, the other desserts should be equally good though! OVER ALL Wahaca is a great place to pop into if you're looking for a quick bite to eat in London. We were in and out within an hour or so, not that we were rushed in the slightest. If you enjoy Mexican food, I really can't see you not enjoying this restaurant! And be sure to help yourself to what look like books of matches by the entrance! They're actually little packs of chili seeds that you can grow at home! :) My favourite Mexican food place in London, and probably one of my favourite chain restaurants too. 5 out of 5 from me! Although I considered deducting a star for the removal of the lovely chili chocolate icecream from the menu! :)
I picked this book up a few weeks ago in Oxfam. Hadn't heard of the title, but had recently been introduced to Dean Koontz novels. I was keen to read a few more. This was the only one of his books they had, and it seemed as good as any to go with! PRICE / AVAILABILITY As I said, I picked this up from an Oxfam store. Charity shops and bootsales are great places to pick up books cheaply, especially if it's something by a best selling author. They'll be quite easy to come by! You can purchase this one for as little as a pound if you type the title and author into Google Shopping, and it's available from all the usual places such as Amazon. If you don't shop online and your local bookshop doesn't have this, I'm sure they'd be happy to order it in for you. According to The Book Depository, the RRP of this one is £6.05. So wherever you get it from, it should be reasonably priced. THE WRITE UP Your Heart Belongs To Me " "For one man, they are the five most terrifying words of all . . ." One year after the heart transplant that saved his life, thirty-five-year-old Ryan Perry has never felt better. He's getting back everything he nearly lost forever--his business, his his life, and, with luck, his beloved girlfriend. Miracles do happen. Then the unmarked gifts begin to arrive--a box of candy hearts, a heart pendant. Most disturbing of all is a graphic heart-surgery video and its chilling message: "Your heart belongs to me." Ryan is being stalked by someone who feels entitled to everything he has. She's the spitting image of the twenty-six-year-old donor of the heart beating steadily in Ryan's own chest. And she's come to take it back. " MY THOUGHTS The blurb above gives information on the story from only a third of the way in and onwards. This is where the story pretty much begins to develop. I was surprised, although not put off, that the opening chapters were so long, detailed, and in depth. I was surprised because they didn't really develop into much in terms of the main story, but not put off because, like all Dean Koontz' writing, it was interesting and made you want to keep going. If you'd read the back, like I had and like most people do before chosing a book, you'd wonder when the inevitable heart transplant was coming. And I think it would have been more enjoyable reading up to this point without knowing it would happen. It is worth noting that the book is divided into three parts. Each clearly marked. Before the transplant, during, and after. The story starts by introducing you to the main character, Ryan Perry, who is a young and wealthy internet entrepreneur. You also get to know his girlfriend Samantha. These characters are developed throughout the opening chapters, and in the first third of the book you don't really get to know much about any of the other characters. The only people who are mentioned briefly are a private security firm working with Ryan, medical professionals and the staff at Ryan's home. This seems to be an effective way of keeping the reader focused on the main plot without getting side tracked. From the start, the writing is good; it flows well and you're soon drawn into the story. I'm someone who struggles to get into a book, but haven't found this with both Dean Koontz novels I've read. The scenes are set well with enough but not too much description, the characters develop, and you can quickly relate to the main character, Ryan's, way of thinking. So much so, that you can get as tunnel visioned as he does! (Although I won't say too much and give the whole plot away!). When I got to the end of the book, and the plot was being wrapped up, I did however, feel a bit cheated. A lot of the beginning and middle sections seemed to be filled with red herrings. Some of these were explained in part, but no "oh wow! I didn't see that one coming!" style twists. Some of the previous happenings were not elaborated on at all. This is the second Dean Koontz I've read (as I said before), and the second time I've been disappointed by an ending. I've seen the same thing mentioned by other reviewers, so it seems to be a bit of a trend. Thought had clearly gone into the whole plot, from start to finish, and the end was interesting enough to satisfy the reader, but I think with these types of thriller / mystery novels, one expects even more twists and turns than what's provided here! I enjoy Dean Koontz style of writing immensley, he really does tell a story well and it's clear he has a good working knowledge of whatever subject he's writing about. What did bother me in this book, right towards the end, was some of his 'non PC' terms. He refers to a young boy with Down's Syndrome as a 'Down's Syndrome boy' which I was quite taken aback by. I'm sure this was an oversight, but could potentially offend a reader! OVER ALL A good read with an interesting subject matter, and a leading character that the reader can identify with. A very well written story, that will draw in even the most impatient reader within a few chapters. Some good twists at the end, although nothing groundbreaking. A little more focus on the ending, and a little less on the beginning, and this book could rate much higher! I'll definitely read another Dean Koontz novel (in fact, I already am!).