Monday, February 29, 2016

Birthstone Series Amethyst Nails

So I’ve had an idea for ages now to do nail art based on birthstones. I would have had this first one up last week but I managed to delete the photos like a proper pro! Though it is still February thanks to this glorious Leap Day today, so I’m still on time with my post.

When I was younger I used to love looking at the birthstones in the Argos catalogue. I used to be so annoyed there wasn’t more opals! Anyway, amethysts always bring back nice memories for me. When I was 8 I spent a few weeks in London. My Dad was over helping my granddad and my aunt brought me to Natural History Museum. I fell in love with the gemstone sections, I finally got to see these gems in person rather than on the page! I remember seeing massive pieces of amethysts. I ended up buying some amethyst agate for my Dad as it’s his birthstone.

amethyst nails nail art Essence birthstones Nails Inc

Amethyst nails birthstone purple nailart

Amethyst always have lovely ombre colours so that’s what I went for the nails. I used Essence in Hello Marshmallow as my lightest base shadow, a beautiful lilac with purple iridescent flash through it. My next shade was nails inc in St Mark’s Square and the darkest shade was Essence in Purple Cherry. I think all these shades are discontinued but all you need is a light purple, a transition medium shade purple and a dark purple. I sponged on the ombre layers and added a glossy top coat. For the accent nail, I did the ombre circular, with the darkest shade in the centre. I added two glitters on top for dimension Color Club in Tru Passion and Essence Special Effect Topper in Only Purple Matters. I lined the outside of the nail with Revlon in Gold Coin to add to my geode effect.

I’m pretty happy with how this turned out (of course, the first time around I did the ombre it turned out better than this!). It reminds me of a dipped ombre t-shirt I loved when I was 10! Next up will be aquamarine, I have some ideas for all the months but nothing set in stone (ha!) so if there’s anything you’d like to see with this birthstone series let me know below in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Making It As I Go Along by Marian Keyes Book Review

This book was provided as a digital review copy from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post a review and all opinions are strictly my own

Making It Up As I Go AlongMarian Keyes first officially came on my radar when she released Saved By Cake, her book on baking and how it helped her depression. The first novel of hers I read was this time of year in 2013. I picked up a copy of Watermelon and decided to give it a chance. I fell in love with Marian’s writing and quickly read the rest of the Walsh family series, as well as some other of herbooks. I read and reviewed the last one, The Woman Who Stole My Life, and when I saw that this book was coming out I put it on my Books I’m Looking Forward To in 2016 post.

Making It Up As I Go Along is a collection of articles, both previously published and unpublished. They’re divided into different sections like Health and Beauty, Travels, and Things I Love. You can easily dip in and out of different sections if you like but I chose to read it through from the beginning. Marian has a chatty style of writing, reading this book is like talking to a friend. She has a unique vocabulary at times, some of it is very much Irish slang which made it feel even more familiar and cosy for me. But don’t worry, Marian (I usually use the author’s surname in reviews but I feel like Marian is more of a friend!) provides a glossary of words at the beginning as well as a who’s who of her friends and family so you can check back who they are if you forget.

I enjoy how frank Marian is at times about things, like her alcohol addiction and depression. As someone who also suffers from depression it’s great to see other people talk about their experiences as it can still be such a taboo topic. There were several times while reading this when I thought ‘This sounds like me!’. As an introvert too, I approve of Marian’s plans to have a colour coded coin system, where you can put down a coin and leave a party without having to go through massive goodbyes or having people get you to stay later than you want. Pink coin to mean ‘thanks, I had a fantastic time, I just need to leave now, goodbye’, hand someone a black coin to mean ‘thanks for coming but it’s time for you to go, bye!’. Other stories I enjoyed was the account of the Antartic cruise, how to break up with your hairdresser (hilarious!), her love of chemists and her infamous Chanel nail polish musuem (it needs to go on tour!). I love Marian’s wit and her how she describes her relationship with Himself, it was so charming to see how excited they were to meet other famous people. And from reading this book I’ve discovered Marian and her siblings co-own a house in Ireland near where I’m from, I could have been sitting a table away from Marian and not have noticed it! Madness! I shall be on the lookout next time I’m at home but for now, I’m on the lookout for an Almond Magnet icecream.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Two Heart Polish Nail Toppers for Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I know there’s a lot of mixed feelings about the day, I’m not a hater of it but it’s not a massive massive deal for me either. Usually because my boyfriend is working but seeing as it’s a weekend this year it’ll be nice to spend it with himself.

Last year I bought a polish with hearts in it to use for a look but it didn’t really work for me (I did use the polish this year though for my Squidgy Jelly nails). I had looked at loads of other brands online to find a polish with hearts but that poundshop one was the only one I could find. After Valentine’s Day I discovered the Nails Inc Alexa heart polish and almost bought it, but didn’t because a) it was expensive and b) Valentine’s was over. I was delighted that Maybelline Color Show brought out the limited edition All Access NY Top Coats in NY Lover. Back then I paired it with nude polish, today with a bright pink! Shortly after finding that polish, I then found the same polish but with opposite colours in Claire’s Accessories for only £1!


First up is the Maybelline polish



I didn’t think I’d like this polish over a bright pink but I LOVE it! I used Essence in Free Hugs for the base with the Maybelline All Access NY Top Coat in NY Lover.



For the base coat I used Essence That’s What I Mint!, which I think has been discontinued but there’s loads of colours like this, especially seeing as it’s spring. This Claire’s polish was a bit harder to manipulate but I still like it.

Which one do you prefer? I think I prefer the Maybelline one but it could be because I’ve used it more.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Rose Gold Stamped Roses

I love rose gold. I’ve used my Models Own Chrome polish before and I’ve heard they’re good for stamping so I decided to give it a go. I’m still not the best at stamping but this is definitely a step in the right direction for me! It’s not perfect but I’m particularly happy with the baby finger.

models own chrome rose gold

Friday, February 12, 2016

Scrabble Valentine’s Nails

I’m a big fan of Scrabble. I used to play a lot with my cousins, though mostly we’d play what they called ‘Go Scrabble’, which was essentially Bananagrams where you use your own tiles to make your own scrabble board. So when I saw these nails by One Nail to Rule Them All I decided to give it a shot of my own. Now the original used nail wraps to get the figures perfect but I freestyled mine.


I used OPI You’re So Vain-illa from the Coca Cola collection as the base. Usually when I write over polish I use a matte top as I find it easier to write but my matte is all dried up so I couldn’t. I used Barry M Nail Art Pen in Black to write my numbers and letters and on the thumb I used Maybellline Color Show in Vivid Rose from the Rebel Bouquet collection for the heart.

If you like this look, then you might enjoy the look I did last Valentine’s using the same OPI shade.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Squidgy Jelly Heart Nails

I love jelly sandwich nails, how squidgy there are! I bought this random heart filled polish in Dealz last year but never got around to using it. There is way too much base coat in it so instead I fished out the heart pieces and used Essence The Gel polish in Bubble Gum in several layers to create the jelly effect.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

January Reads Part 2

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley and all opinions are my own.

I split the January Reads post into two parts as I had read 16 books. You can find part one here.

January Reads Part 2

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

listen slowly

Mai is an eleven year old girl, born and raised in California and just looking forward to spending her summer with her friends on the beach. Until her parents tell her she must accompany her grandmother to Vietnam, who’s travelling there to find out what happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Her parents see this as an exciting oppurtunity for Mai to find out more about her family and heritage but Mai just sees it as a massive pain in the butt. It’s hot, she keeps getting bitten by mosquitos and she can barely understand the language. But slowly Mai grows to enjoy her trip. It was a very sweet book, I loved seeing this different culture and all it’s traditions. This is a great middle grade book that kids will enjoy but I think adults will too.


The Robber Bridesgroom by The Brothers Grimm

robber bridegroom

I picked this up from the Penguin 80s collection for one of the Read Harder challenges. Most people are familiar with the Brothers Grimm in one form or another, their fairytales are famous. This book has several short stories, the only two that were familiar to me were Snow White and The Musicians of Bremen. The Brothers Grimm did not shy away from the twisted and gory, this has the wicked stepmother in Snow White being made put on iron shoes that were heated and made dance until she died! These Penguin 80s are a great way of trying new authors and genres without paying too much money (80p in UK, about €1.15 here in Ireland).


It’s Not Me It’s You by Mhairi MacFarlane

it's not me it's you

I read this after seeing Leena Norms mention it in a video. Delia Moss has been with her boyfriend for 10 years and loves their lives together. So much so she decides to propose. After getting a lukewarm reception from her boyfriend, he sends her a text message that was meant for his mistress and Delia is devastated. With her relationship in ruins and her work shit, Delia takes up her friend’s offer of a room in London and moves down there. She takes up a new job with a dodgy boss, is blackmailed by a handsome journalist and reignites her love of drawing comics. Not to mention becoming online friends with the mysterious Peshwari Naan. Delia must also try and sort out her feelings about her ex, about whether to she trusts him and if they should get back together. This was funny in parts and sweet too. I loved Delia’s relationship with her brother and I loved the fact that we saw some of Delia’s comics come to life too. Predictable in parts, yes. Most ‘chick lit’ is to some degree but this doesn’t change the fact I enjoyed this, it wasn’t cliched and Mhairi’s writing is witty. If you enjoyed Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York then you’ll probably enjoy this too.


I Call Myself a Feminist: The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty edited by Victoria Pepe

i call myself a feminist

This book has short essays from different people under the age of 30 about feminism. What I liked most about this book is that there's so many different views on feminism and that feminism isn't just something you can look at on it's own. That there's other cross sections like when feminism crosses with sexism, or racism or when you don't identify as hetreosexual. Or even a combination of these issues. As a straight white cis-woman my experiences with feminism are different to a woman of colour, a trans woman or a lesbian woman. I think it's important to educate myself with these other views. But also to try and not judge woman in general, that we're all in this together and if I don't agree with someone else's choice, just remember these words from Amy Poehler 'Good for her. Not for me'. Speaking of Poehler, in between each essay are little quotes and snippets from other people which help break up the essays and add some extra food for thought. Worth a read (NetGalley Sample)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade final for Irene

This book cropped up a lot on my radar last year and I bought it on Kindle at a cheap price. And it sat there waiting for me to read it, as do so many of my Kindle books! I finally got around to it though and I’m so glad I did (especially with book two coming out later this month!). In this book there are 4 different Londons. Grey London is the ‘normal’ London, set during the time of mad King George’s reign and lacking magic. Red London is where life and magic flourishes, White London is a ruthless London, where people fight and murder there way to the throne. And Black London no longer exists, having been too greedy when it comes to magic. Kell is one of two people who can travel throughout these worlds, living and working for the palace in Red London as an adopted Prince. His job is the travel between these Londons, giving and receiving correspondence between royalty in these worlds. Kell also smuggles things from one world into another, something that is strictly forbidden. When his reputation gets him in big trouble by smuggling an extremely dangerous artefact, he finds his life collide with Delilah, a talented Grey London thief who dreams of being a pirate. They must work together to get rid of this dangerous artefact. I loved the worlds this is set in (Schwab does a good job of describing the atmosphere in each London), it’s such an interesting idea. Lila is such a great character and I found myself rooting for her. I liked how the magic worked in this world and I can’t wait to read this next book! I’ve already read a preview of it on NetGalley and it looks like it’ll be a great follow up.


The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson

the men who stare at goats

This is probably Ronson’s most famous book and yet it’s taken me almost 3 years to read it. The Men Who Stare At Goats has Ronson look into the secret psychic unit in the US Army that was set up in the 1970s and what influences it’s had on the modern US Army. He speaks with people who were key players in these departments and the experiments these performed, such as being invisible and being able to kill a goat with just a stare. This was interesting (some of these men seem interesting and how their beliefs have trickled down to modern warfare techniques, like the mental effects of playing certain music on prisoners) and as with any of Ronson’s books with a conspiracy element to them, there are some strange goings on too which add to the intrigue. While I did enjoy the book, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ronson’s other writing. It’s possible this is because the book is over ten years old and while it’s not out of date, it might have had a greater impact on me if it were up to date with information.


The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine

mystery of the jewelled moth

I loved The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow when I read it last year, it was such a fun, a mix between Enid Blyton, Mr Selfridges and Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series. The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth sees the return of Sophie, Lil, Billy and Joe when they are asked by d├ębutante Veronica to help find the jewelled moth that was gifted to her by Lord Beaucastle. Of course, it doesn't take long before the infamous Baron crops up in the story, all while the gang enjoy teas, iced buns and codes to crack. It's fantastic that the books has strong female leads, this book can easily be enjoyed by girls and boys. I liked seeing a bit more of London besides the glitz when we see Chinatown in Limehouse. Super fun reads for target audiences (10-14 year olds) but can equally enjoyed by older audiences who want to feel nostalgic for Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew. (NetGalley Sample)

The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After by Jenny Colgan
the little shop of happy ever after

Jenny Colgan is the queen of cute and quirky romances. Every year I enjoy reading one of her new books, whether it's returning to old favourites or meeting new character. In The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After, we meet Nina, a librarian in Birmingham who has just lost her job due to downsizing. On a whim, she decides to go to Scotland and open a book bus. Colgan has a way of writing small, close communities where the heroine starts up cute fun business. Previously I've wanted a cupcake cafe, a sweetshop, a bakery and now I want to run a book bus! The book was a bit predictable in places, especially cos I'm familiar with Colgan's previous works, I could see influences from her other books in this one but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. If you've enjoyed other Colgan books, then you'll enjoy this jaunt into the Scottish Highlands! (NetGalley Sample)

January’s Stats

Number of books read- 16

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 12:4

Female to male authors- 13:3

Number of eBooks- 11 (Lumberjanes, Forensics, Red Queen, Rebel of the Sands, A Fever of the Blood, Glass Sword, Assassination Vacation, I Call Myself a Feminist, A Darker Shade of Magic, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth and The Little Shop of Happy Ever After)

Number of books borrowed from library- 2 (The Body at the Tower and Listen, Slowly)

Book Riot Reading Challenge Completed

Read a non superhero comic that debuted in the past 3 years- Lumberjanes

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900- The Body at the Tower

Read a non-fiction book about science- Forensics

Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)- Assassination Vacation

Read a book that is by an author from South East Asia- Listen, Slowly

Read a book under 100 pages- The Robber Bridegroom

Read a book over 500 pages- It’s Not Me It’s You

Read a non-fiction book about feminism or deals with feminist issues- I Call Myself a Feminist

Read a middle grade novel- The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth

I’m really pleased that I managed to get through quite a few of my NetGalley books, I have a habit of building up books to read. Physical books and ebooks that I buy but now also NetGalley requests! I’m also pleased with my start to the Read Harder challenge, I’m over a third of the way through.

Don’t forget, you can read part one here to see some of the other books I’ve mentioned above. If you’ve read any of the books, I’d love to hear your opinions down below.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Valentine’s Sharpie Nails

There’s a lot of nail art online that are done with Sharpies. So when I spotted pink Sharpies in Dealz I thought I’d do a quick Valentine’s look with them. I decided to use a gold pen I already to mix it up a bit. For the base I used Model’s Own Hyper Gel in White Light. After applying the Sharpie hearts, I sprayed the nails with hair spray to try and set it before adding a top coat to prevent it from smudging, with worked except for the ring finger.
You can check other Valentine’s looks I’ve done by clicking here. I hope to get one or two other looks done this year too, though that depends on if I can get my stamping skills to work!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January Reads Part 1

Post contains free advanced reading copies from NetGalley.

For the first time, I’m splitting my reading roundup into two posts! I managed to read 16 books in January which I’m pretty happy with. Nice solid start to my aim of 90 books for 2016 and a nice solid start to the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

January Reads

Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen


I mentioned this in my recent book acquistions post, I bought it for one of the Read Harder challenges. I picked it as I’d heard about the series from Rincey and it sounded interesting. 5 best friends spending their summer at the Lumberjane camp where they kick ass against all sorts of strange animals and monsters and solve mysteries. It was short but it’s a good starter to the series, it has me interested in reading more.



The Body in the Tower by Y.S. Lee

the body at the tower

This is the second book in The Agency series. I read book one, The Spy in the House, back in September and enjoyed it. It has spying, a strong female lead AND it’s set in Victorian London, it’s right up my alley! There’s something strange going on at the building of the new clock tower at the Houses of Parliament and Mary Quinn is sent in undercover to the building site as a boy apprentice to try and find out what’s happening. The book was fun and developed the main characters of Mary and James more than the first book. There’s two more books left in the series which I can’t wait to read.


Forensics by Val McDermid

forensics val mcdermid

Forensics is an area that has interested and intrigued me for years now. I love watching crime shows though I am aware of the major artistic license these shows take when it comes to processes. Val takes a different aspect of forensics in each chapter and talks about the history of the field, talks to modern experts in that field and tells us about cases over the years where this field of forensics has helped or hindered cases. These fields are the ones you'd probably automatically think of when it comes to crimes (fingerprinting, crime scene investigators, pathologists, toxicologists, DNA analysis) but also other fields you might not have released (entomology, blood spatter analysis, digital forensics, what happens in courtrooms). I love that Val shows the positives and the negatives of all these techniques and fields. The writing doesn't bog you down or feel 'heavy' like some non-fiction science books can, in fact I flew through the book as I found it so interesting. While reading the book, I knew a lot of the information that came up but that's not too surprising considering the other books, podcasts and videos I've consumed around the topic of death over the years! It made it no less of an interesting read though, If you like crime books or shows or have always wondered what actually happens behind the scenes of a crime investigation, then this is the book for you! (NetGalley sample)


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

red queen

Red Queen is about a world where you are divided by blood type- Red and Silver. Red bloods are the lowest in society, barely even surviving. Silvers have special powers (being able to control elements, read minds, and super strength to name a few) and even the lowest of Silvers lead comfortable lives. Mare is a 17 year old, who's only talent is pickpocketing and knows that when she turns 18 she'll have to join the army, like her three older brothers. Though a turn of events leads her to getting a job in the palaces summer home and it turns out that despite her Red blood, she has Silver powers. She must hide in plain sight, pretending to be a long lost Silver princess and learn the world of the Silvers, knowing that one misstep would be fatal for her. I enjoyed the book, once it got going the pace kept up and it was quick to read, I was really interested in what was going to happen next. The book ended on a big cliffhanger and I'm really looking forward to what happens next! (NetGalley sample)


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton


I kept seeing hype for this book coming out so I decided to give it a shot. I like YA and I like magical elements so I thought why not. I loved the spin on this though, the Western setting and feel. It made a refreshing difference to the dystopian YA fiction which is out there. Amani has nothing going for her in Dustwalk. She lives with her Aunt, who despises her (as her mother was hanged for killing her husband) and soon enough she is to be married, to be someone else's property. Not wanting that, Amani enters a shooting competition disgused as a boy so she can win money and leave. There she meets Jin, a foreigner who she keeps running into to and who she eventually runs away with, hoping to get to her Aunt in the big city. But of course a there's hijinks along the way and Amani soon learns a lot more about herself. I loved the pace of this book, it was fun and fast. Amani is a great character, full of grit and determination. The world is different to any other YA world I've read which really sets it apart. I can't wait to read the next book when it comes out, definitely recommend! (NetGalley sample)


A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel


Having read The Strings of Murder last year I couldn't wait to read the follow up book. A Fever of the Blood sees the return of Inspector Frey and Detective McGray and this time it's more personal. A patient at the Edinburgh Asylum for the Insane murders a nurse. But before this happens, he's overheard speaking with a fellow patient, a girl who has been mute for years. This girl is McGray's sister and he is determined to find the murderer to find out what they spoke about. The investigation shows signs of witchcraft and leads the team to the Lancashire witches. This is a fast paced book, I was never bored reading it. I love the way de Muriel writes these books, he builds up signs of the supernatural and magic but there's always an explanation to it all. I was kept guessing the whole way through which was fantastic, there's nothing worse than guessing the answer to the mystery half way through! There's a great atmosphere and as I mentioned above, I love a good Victorian set mystery. A fantastic read! (NetGalley sample)


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

glass sword

Glass Sword is a follow up to Red Queen and a pretty solid one at that. A lot of the time, the 2nd book in a YA trilogy is pretty weak but I liked this one. I felt it really helped with the world building, giving us a better sense of the setting of the book. While not perfect (there was one or two things that left me questioning or wondering), it does a lot to set up what will come in the next book. I liked the conflict Mare has when it comes to one of the other characters, she clearly hates him but there's a part of him that she can't let go of either, the part she thought she knew in book one. I feel like I haven't entirely warmed to Mare but that doesn't mean that I can't in book 3 or that I can't enjoy the series otherwise. After all, Mare is a 17 year old girl so maybe it's just that coming through?! It was a fast paced quick read that overall I enjoyed and I look forward to reading the final book once it's released. (NetGalley sample)


Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

assassination vaction

Sarah Vowell takes a trip around the United States, to areas that have significance to three of the four successful assassination attempts on US Presidents (Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield and William McKinley. Vowell doesn’t talk about Kennedy). She visits the graves, assassination locations and important locations in the lives of not only the presidents but also the assassins. It sounds morbid but it’s not, it’s a glance into hertiage tourism and is fascinating at times. The book is Lincoln heavy, which got a bit annoying to be honest as it started to bore me. Originally Vowell was going to write about all attempted and successful assassination attempts and I think I would have much prefered that. She stuck to the three above because they were all so close together and that several people crop up in all the stories (Lincoln’s son Robert has a connection to all three of the assassinations). I think if I was slightly more informed about American history I would have enjoyed this slightly more. It was interesting and witty and it has made me want to learn more about certain aspects of American history (especially Teddy Roosevelt, who became president after McKinley’s death).

And that’s the first half of the month done. I’ll post the other half in the upcoming day and put the stats in that post.

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