Monday, 12 February 2018

Come, Look At My Trash #7

Alright, these have been building up for a while now and everyone loves a good empties post, so here we go. I'm gonna empty out my box of beauty trash and let you know what I loved, what I didn't and what I would buy again. It's one of my personal favourite types of blog posts actually cause it's almost the best type of review- you liked something enough to use it up and now you can properly give its pros and cons! Yay!

Make Up:

YSL Le Effet Faux Cils Shocking Mascara x3. Yeah...I really like this mascara, clearly. I usually pick up a double pack when I pass through duty free cause it's better value. This mascara is just high drama, no fallout, pitch black. I haven't found its match and I've tried a lot of mascaras! Do you even need to ask? I've another waiting to go!

Speaking of! Bourjois Mascara Effet Push Up Volume Glamour*. This was a good little mascara actually. Not quite on a par with my all time fave but a good, cheaper option. Would buy again.

Benefit's They're Real Macara. This is a mini that I got in a set. I've never been a huge fan of this mascara, I don't like the hard plastic bristles. I do love mini mascara though, so handy and adorable!

Bourjois Brow Design Mascara*. This is in a brown shade that might have been slightly too dark for me, but I liked the formula and how thin the brush is, which is important for a brow product like this. Would buy again!

Flower That's So Kohl Brown eyeliner. I freakin loved this!! This is Drew Barrymore's make up brand. I annoyingly bought only one of these and it's brilliant. It's a thick kohl pencil that smudges really well with the sponge at the other end. I couldn't find this brand when we were in the states again last November, and I was raging!

Maybelline Master Prime by Face Studio Blur & Illuminate. I really liked this primer. It provided a nice, glowy base, good for dry skin. It also has an spf of 30. I got this in the states, not sure if they have this one here but even if they do I have two or three other primers to use up first!

Revlon double ended eye cream. Again, an American purchase. On one end is a beautiful taupey silk shimmery shade that I used every last drop of. On the other is a matching glitter cream, which I liked but just didn't use. I'm kind of past the all out glitter shadow look at this stage to be honest. I would buy again but I'd love to just get that one shade on its own!

Maybelline Anti-Age Eraser Eye conceleaer. This is probably my third one of these. It has a little sponge at the top, you twist and then pat it on under your eye. This is a great concealer. I've already got another one on the go!

NYX Concealer. All of the packaging has come off of this so I'm not sure what the actual name of this is but it was grand. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. I probably wouldn't buy it again.

YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation. Love this. Probably my second or third bottle but they have changed the formula, so I'm not sure about getting another one..

Bourjois City Radiance Foundation. This is a really light weight foundation, more like a BB cream than anything. I like it though, it's nice for days where you don't want that much coverage but you still want a little summin' summin'. I have a new one ready to go!

And my most impressive beauty empty of all time is the Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronze Universel. So this took maybe three years for me to use up. it didn't go off and stayed perfect that entire time. I often used this as a make up base to give an extra healthy glow and sometimes I blended it out as a bronzer over foundation. It's a good product but I got sick of using it if I'm perfectly honest! I would buy it again but I might leave it a while!

Shower & Hair:

Korres Almond & Cherry shower gel. I got this plus the body lotion further down in here on offer last January from Debenhams. This smells beautiful and lathers well. Korres are one of my fave brands- they use mostly natural ingredients, are cruelty free and can be hard to find here which gives them a nice elusive quality ;) Would buy again.

Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub. Sweet baba Jay, the smell of this. I could eat it, honestly! And I would too except that I always stop myself in time (I jest). Anyway, this is an excellent body scrub. When I'm prepping for tan, I use it dry first, then hop in the shower, add water and scrub some more. It's good. Would def buy again.

Kevin Murphy Angel Rinse & Angel Shine. I love this range. it's great for damaged hair, which mine is. I've gone through a few of these and although they're pricey, I'd definitely buy them again. They work.


Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water. They sell these smaller sizes right by the counter in Penneys and I get suckered into buying them every time. This is grand. It's a micellar water like, they're really just for removing the top layer of your make up before you go in with a proper oil cleanser to do your second cleanse. Or you know, when you're too tired to get out of bed and the bottle is right there. I probably will end up getting this again for handiness sake if nothing else.

Korres Almond & Cherry Body Milk. This is the partner to the shower gel above. This was gorgeous too. Keep an eye on Debenhams sale online for the Christmas sets like this. I got the two of these for about €11, if memory serves correctly. I'd absolutely get this again.

Aveeno Skin Relief Cooling Menthol Moisturising Lotion. I think I got this on special offer where it was half price in some random pharmacy so I said I'd give it a go. I found this great for the drier skin on my legs. It's not the most luxurious of body creams- I use them on my arms and chest to get the most out of them and this is very much just for legs, elbows, knees, other dry patches etc. I have a new one ready to go!

Burt's Bees Ultimate Care Body Lotion with Baobab Oil for Very Dry Skin. I bought this in New Orleans the October before last and every time I smelt this since, it reminded me of our very cool Airbnb apartment, beads, gators and being both very warm and very drunk. Great times. It's also brilliant for dry skin- super moisturising. They didn't have this exact one the last time I was in the states (I can never find this exact product in Ireland either) so I bought a different scent for dry skin, hopefully it'll be as good!

Crabtree & Evelyn Avocado, Olive & Basil Body Butter. Oh, I loved this. It's so moisturising and sinks in so well but it also smells just like Summer. It's gorgeous. I definitely want more of this in my life.

Ren Express Make Up Remover*. This was a nice milk cleanser. It did the job well but I suppose it was nothing special. I wouldn't be against using it again but I wouldn't actively seek it out again.

Korres Wild Rose Brightening & Line Smoothing Serum. I bought this in Greece because the Korres products are way better value over there. I used this every morning, under my moisturiser and it was an absolute joy. My skin felt soft and comforted plus you can't beat a shot of vitamin C to your skin! It also smells really good (are you sensing an olfactory pattern here?) And yes, I want more!!

Nivea Double Effect Eye Make Up Remover*. This is one of those half oil, half water yokes that you shake up before applying onto a cotton pad. If I'm wearing a lot of eye make up/heavy mascara, I hold the cotton pad over my eyelid for a few seconds and it desolves the worst of it. This is a really good, non-stingy and non-costly option. I already have a new one on the go!

Fresh black Tea Firming Overnight Mask. I've actually been using this since I bought it in New York two years ago. It took that long to finish, and not because I didn't love it (because I did) but because a little goes a long way. I'm also big into overnight masks and the smell of tea so this was a win-win for me. Who knows whether it actually firmed my face or not but I will say that it is intensely moisturising. My face always felt softer and less parched the morning after using it. I'd definitely buy it again but it costs $60 so I'm using up everything else I have first!!

Rituals Magic Touch Body Cream Ritual of Sakura Organic Rice Milk & Cherry Blossom. Another beautifully scented body lotion. I also found this one to be really good for dry skin and I would 100% buy it again. It feels very luxurious when it's applied.

The Body Shop Vanilla Chai Body Butter*. I brought this to California as it's such a handy size, so now yet again the smell of this will always remind me of that trip. This is from a limited edition Christmas range that comes out every year- I'll definitely get it next Winter because it's a great moisturiser, smells sweet but with a gorgeous hit of spice from the cinnamon to warm it up.

Botanics Hydration Burst Hydrating Day Cream*. This was really more of a very light gel and while it did the job in the warmer months, I really need a thicker moisturiser throughout the colder parts of the year (so that's September through to March, then. Thanks, Irish weather). I probably wouldn't buy it again for that reason.

The Body Shop Vanilla Chai Body Butter*. I brought this to California as it's such a handy size, so now yet again the smell of this will always remind me of that trip. This is from a limited edition Christmas range that comes out every year- I'll definitely get it next Winter because it's a great moisturiser, smells sweet but with a gorgeous hit of spice from the cinnamon to warm it up.

Lancome Renergie Multi Lift Cream. This is quite a thick, heavily scented cream. It says it's for all skin types but if you have sensitive skin, I'd probably avoid it to be honest. It does have an SPF of 15 which is good but I wouldn't buy it again, I felt like it needed a lot of work to move it around my face and the smell is a bit overpowering.

Kinvara Rosehip Face Serum. I really liked this, it did feel quite intensive on the skin but I didn't run into any problems like some people with more sensitive skin have reported with it. I probably wouldn't get this again, purely because I've used serum I've preferred more since.

Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip balm. One of my all time faves. This is probably my fourth tub. I'll absolutely buy it again!

The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Make Up Remover. Not such a big fan of this one. It actually stung my eyes, which is strange for a gentle eye make up remover. That might just be me. Anyway, this then leaked all over my toiletry bag so it finished itself off in the end. Wouldn't buy again.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Night Cream. I liked this one, it's thick enough that it feels like you're giving yourself a nice nighttime face mask. I much preferred this to its day cream counterpart. I'd get this one again.

Clarins HydraQuench Cream. Not a huge fan of this, again it has a very overpowering perfumed scent that feels a bit smothering on. Won't be getting it again.

Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. I'm obsessed with this stuff. It's the best cleanser I've ever used- you apply it to dry skin, add some water to emulsify and the oil/balm melts your make up and cleans it all away with a warm muslin cloth. I love the smell. Love it!! I've another mini one on the go but I'm getting a full size as soon as that's finished (treat yo'self etc), even if it is horribly expensive! Eep.

Korres Damask Rose Overnight Mask for fatigued skin. God knows I need this! As I've mentioned, I loved the overnight masks, this was lovely. Possibly a little greasy so I probably wouldn't get it again.

The Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream. I loved this!!! It felt so luxurious, especially when used with the Oils of life facial Oil. Would buy both of these again, for sure.

M&S Beauty Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream. This promises it'll make you look like you've had 8 hours sleep..I'm not sure if that's true but I know I really liked this and I'd buy a full size!

Josie Maran 100% Argan Oil light. This is a really gorgeous facial oil- it sinks in really well but provides the same nourishment as a heavier oil might. I got this in the states and I'd definitely get a new one the next time I'm back!


Cocoa Brown Instant Tan Bronzing Gel Shimmer. I'm a big fan of instant wash off tan, always have been. Back in the day I was all about the Rimmel Sun Shimmer. I liked this one, there was no streaking, easy to apply, nice glow. I would get it again but I'm currently using a really good one from  St. Moriz.

Chloé Love Story Eau de Parfum. This is my second bottle of this that I've gone through. I love this perfume, possibly more than the original Chloé. This is a delicate floral but not overly sweet- it has a powdery feel to it too and it lasts really well on the skin. Love it, would love more of it!

Phew! That was quite a lot; probably a years worth of beauty trash! Are any of these your favourites too?

*Denotes that the product was provided for review but this is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, as always.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Recently Read: October, November & December

Don't be put off by the amount of months there, I slowed down a bit towards the end of the year so there's not as many books here as I'd like, plus I will make a concerted effort to be more brief than usual! My plan for the year ahead is to read 70 books. I'm 9 in. I can do this! 

*book reading montage*

Nasty Women by Ink 404
This is a collection of essays written by women from different backgrounds, ethnicity's, sexual orientations, educations, etc. about being a woman in the 21st century when intolerance, misogyny and political turmoil seem to be on the rise. The name refers to the now infamous quote from Trump, referring to Hillary Clinton, which has become a badge of honour for some women in the states. I really enjoyed reading this, the different perspectives on a variety of topics kept it fresh and interesting and I kept wanting to read on to the next essay, regardless of how tired I was at the time!

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
Miranda Rader is a detective and a good one at that. Her kidnapping and attempted rape as a teenager, left her determined to make something of herself and put her into a position of authority where she can help other women. No one believed her when she was a teenager, about her own attack or about the girl who was taken with her and who was never found. Miranda has for the most part put this behind her, that is until she and her partner are called to a murder scene where the victim had a newspaper clipping detailing Miranda's kidnapping. He has been brutally murdered and by his injuries, it looks like a woman could be the perpetrator. Then Miranda's prints are found at the scene and things start to look very bad for her indeed. This is a great little thriller that kept me guessing thanks to a few twists and turns and the odd red herring thrown in for good measure! I really liked Miranda's character and the love story/steamy sex scenes didn't do any harm either!

The Betrayals by Fiona Neill
This was a book club read and not well liked by any of us if I recall correctly. The story is told from several different perspectives, giving it an uneven, jumpy quality. None of them are reliable narrators by the way, so you spend the entire book wondering what really happened. Anyway, Rosie and Lisa used to be best friends. They shared everything, went on holidays together and their children were best friends too. That is until Lisa betrayed Rosie. After years of silence, Rosie receives a letter from Lisa, exposing long held secrets and asking for help. The letter will cause Rosie's family to unravel even further. Nothing really happens in this book. You're lead to believe the whole way through that there's going to be some dramatic reveal but there really isn't. It felt a bit dragged out to me and the content doesn't match how it was marketed- it looks like and the blurb reads like a domestic noir thriller (that are all the rage at the minute) but don't be fooled- it's not. It moves along at a snails pace. On the plus side, there is a very realistic portrayal of OCD in there that I haven't seen as well written in any other novel. Overall though, I'd avoid. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I featured this in my top 5 books of the year (HERE). It was another book club read but much more successful this time. Elena Richardson is a journalist and mother of four, living in an affluent suburb of Cleveland. She is wealthy, successful and respected in her town, which she thinks is down to playing by the rules, something she's prided herself on her entire life. That all gets shaken up when free-spirited artist Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl move to the area; Elena's four children immediately becoming obsessed with them both, which makes Elena uneasy and envious. A local adoption involving Elena's best friend turns into a vicious custody battle that makes enemies of Elena and Mia and Elena decides to use her journalistic skills to uncover secrets about Mia's former life in an effort to destroy her. 
I've had a few people say they started this (on my recommendation..eep!) but found it quite slow moving. It is a slow burner, for sure, but it's beautifully written and atmospheric. The characters feel like real, flawed humans and I could understand their motives, even when they did terrible things. If you're looking for a quick, easy read, this isn't it but stick with it, it's gratifying in the end. Promise!

Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown by Sophie White
This is part memoir, part self-help book, part recipe book. I enjoyed all the parts. Sophie White was a regular gal, living a regular life until she took a tablet at a festival which led to the worst trip of her life and a knock on effect of debilitating mental illness for the next few years. The book covers that time but also her recovery, how she met her husband, their travels together and how she became a chef. The recipes throughout coincide with these times in her life, along with "meals to eat when..." you're pregnant, hungover, in love etc. I loved this book. It gave me so many recipe ideas, beautiful food photos to look at, good life advice and overall an interesting life story to read. 

Under The Dome by Stephen King
This is your classic King; small town Americana full of good and bad people who must face an un-fightable force of evil in order to survive..if the bad guys don't kill all the good guys along the way first, that is. A clear barrier descends over a small town, landing directly on the town borders. Nothing can pass in or out without annihilation and it cannot be destroyed. The longer it's there, the worse the oxygen levels become and the more likely it is that the town's resident mini dictator/murderer will destroy all the townsfolk. This was so gripping and as with all King books you get completely engrossed and attached to the characters. So many times I got annoyed and could be heard exclaiming "WHY? WHY HIM?!" etc. It's long, so you really have to like your King to take this one on- it's not his best but that's a pretty high bar anyway. I enjoyed muchly. 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
This is one of the bigger bestselling thrillers from last year. It seemed at one point like everyone was reading The Couple Next Door. Two couples are at a dinner party, one of the couples have a baby daughter who they've left unattended in their home next door, with the baby monitor on. They check on her every half an hour. When they at last leave the dinner party it's been an hour since they checked on her and to their horror, find she's not in her cot- she's been kidnapped. No one is beyond suspicion; the couple themselves, their neighbours, their family etc and the book is really just about figuring out who took her and why. There's a few twists and turns and overall it's a really quick and entertaining thriller, without a huge amount of substance. 

This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
Adam Kay is a comedian that originally trained to be a doctor and got quite far too until a tragic event at work made him completely change careers. This is his account of being a junior doctor in the NHS; from the very bottom of the rung; med student and intern, right up to senior house officer and registrar. Health care professionals LOVE telling you all of their weirdest and most wonderful hospital stories. I should know, I'm a nurse and a midwife and I'm married to a doctor. We regularly try and out-do each other with our work stories (no names mentioned, obviously. All very confidential) because that's what doctors and nurses do to relieve the stress we feel from the responsibility our jobs demand from us.
Adam is no different here and for the most part this is a funny read. At the heart of it though, is an expose of just how hard junior doctors work. They miss family events, can't maintain a relationship, work 24 hour shifts, sleep at work instead of going home cause sometimes it's easier and that's all before you add in the abuse from the public and the constant fear that they may make a mistake due to sheer exhaustion. I really enjoyed reading this because it all rang so true for me. I've experienced a lot of what Adam mentions (although I still think most of my hospital stories are better) and I would highly recommend everyone reads this, health care professional or not. It's an eye opener for most people but also, it's really very entertaining. I laughed, I winced and I cried loud, gulpy sobs. 

Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Reni Eddo-Lodge originally wrote an essay with the same name, which garnered so much interest she was asked to expand on the topic and write a novel, and here it is. The first quarter of the book explores the origins of racism in the UK and what role it currently plays in modern Britain. Here, she discusses whitewashed feminism, the connection between class and race and her suggestions for how we can acknowledge and counter racism when it occurs. This is a huge issue right now with modern feminism branching off between intersectionality and those who well, don't understand the actual meaning of feminism I guess?! I enjoy reading and learning as much as I can about feminism and how I can practice intersectional feminism and be a more inclusive and supportive feminist while acknowledging my own privilege, and I found this was a really astute perspective that would be helpful to most feminists.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
I mean, we all want to know the answer to that one, am I right?? Hillary taking the blame squarely for it herself in this book about her run and subsequent loss of the US presidency. Also to blame of course are misogyny, sexism, the Russians, those damn emails, the head of the FBI, a feeling amongst Americans that there needed to be a change in the status quo and the inexplicable popularity of Donald Trump. I'm not a blind follower of Clinton, I'm well aware of mistakes she has made throughout her 30 year career in politics (I still can't reconcile the fact that a woman with 30 years experience in the job lost to a male reality TV show host), which she also addresses in this book. She holds her hands up and admits to things she would not do the same if she had a second chance. But she also makes the valid point that male politicians regularly make huge errors of judgement that effect millions and their careers aren't tarnished forever more. For me, this book provided a lot of food for thought. I had been following the US election so I was interested anyway but I also think hearing from the first major female presidential nominee after her defeat is an interesting read! I listened to this on audible cause HRC reads it herself so it fees more authentic that way, even though she can be a little stiff sometimes in her delivery. There's a lot of political discussion in here- what she planned to do if she had won etc. that isn't particularly fascinating but overall I enjoyed it and felt like I learnt a lot more about her as a person- and she is an interesting woman. If you're interested in politics and feminism and how those two coincide then you'll enjoy this too. 

Mindhunter; Inside The FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas
This is the book that the recent Netflix series Mindhunter was based on. There's some minor changes between the two but it's the same basic gist. I feel like I learnt more about the life of John Douglas (the main character in the show) from reading this and there's definitely far much more detail on the crimes featured in the series in here, as well as plenty of crimes that aren't (season 2 anyone?). There's also a lot more information about profiling itself, which I find compelling. Overall, an insightful read that kept me captivated, once I got past the first few chapters (those were a little slow). If you like True Crime, this is a good'un. 

OK, I lied, I was not brief but it's hard not to gush about books! 
Tell me, have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Clarins SOS Primers | New Release!

One of the nicest things about the new year is all the lovely Spring beauty releases.
Pastel nail polish, floral notes in perfumes and peachy lip shades all make a reappearance and it starts to feel like there might just be an end in sight to the misery of Winter.
I've been lucky enough to try out one such lovely new release; the SOS Primers from Clarins. You will by now have heard of these if you're a beauty fiend. They've been all over Instagram and I'm mostly talking about my own instastories there- I love this primer!

Clarins SOS Primers

A quick description of these fellas: there's six in the range with each one taking care of a different skin issue. I have two to try out; Universal Light to boost radiance for dull skin, and Lavender for brightening sallow skin
Also in the range is Rose, which minimises signs of fatigue (I kinda feel like I could do with this one too if I'm honest!), Peach, which blurs imperfections for a flawless finish, Coral, which minimises dark spots and Green, which diminishes redness (a good one for anyone dealing with Rosacea).

So as well as doing what primers are meant to do, i.e provide a good base for your foundation, they have the added bonus of tackling whatever skin issue you've been struggling with.
Thus, killing two birds with the one, smoothing stone. Hurrah!

Clarins SOS Primers

I've been using Universal Light for the last three weeks. I wear it under Isadora's Cover Up Foundation & Concealer. That particular product is medium to full coverage, which I don't normally wear thanks to my dry skin but, if you add it to an illuminating primer you balance the two out perfectly. I liked that foundation anyway but I love it with this primer. Rarely does a day go by when I wear the two together that I don't get complimented on my face, which is always enjoyable! :D

Clarins SOS Primers

I've tried out Lavender and can see the pigments in it, clearly, but as I don't have sallow skin, I'm not the best person to trial it! It has the same consistency though, which is a wonderful base for your foundation- leaving you with a smooth and prepped surface that'll help your make up last longer. 

It's a good'un.
The SOS Primers are available now and are €31 each.


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Best of January

At last, January is coming to an end. My least favourite month of the year, and probably most other people's also. Christmas is over, it's dull and dark. Dreary, cold and wet. 
No more sparkly lights, nights out or continuous opportunities to drink Prosecco.
Somehow though, we still managed to make the most of it!
My month in review is a simple concept but it's a nice way of stepping into a new month with a bit of positivity. I'm gonna do this in bullet points cause otherwise I'll write an essay and no one wants that. 

  • We went to see our favourite painting (and if I'm being a knob I'll say "our wedding painting" also) The Meeting On The Turret Stairs in the National Gallery's Burton exhibition, which was wonderful.
  • We finally got to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I still haven't clarified in my own mind how I feel about that film as it's so multi-layered but I definitely can recommend it.
  • I read some brilliant books and got my years goal of reading 70 off to a great start. I read 6 books this month with favourites including; Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman), Little Deaths (Emma Flint) and The Mother of All Questions (Rebecca Solnit).
  • Mostly we stayed indoors to hibernate and watched the feck out of Netflix. The Crown season 2 was enjoyed with a healthy dose of anti-colonialism and we've also been binge watching Elementary, which is surprisingly entertaining.

  • I made my triumphant return to my pilates class, which may or may not have crippled me but we'll worry about that in February. 
  • Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas) was spent with family in The Westin eating tiny sandwiches and sipping prosecco, which was a lovey treat (I lied about the lack of prosecco opportunities in January).
  • We booked our Copenhagen/Mälmo/Stockholm trip for May. You should know by now that I had nothing to do with that- it was all Himself (I did buy a swimsuit for our trip to the Amalfi Coast though so that's kind of the same thing as holiday planning, if you think about it)
  • We helped christen our beautiful nephew and godson, Tom. 
  • We finally got to try Hang Dai for Himself's birthday; a fancy and very cool Chinese restaurant that had been high on our list of Dublin spots to go for food. We will be back.
  • Beauty wise, I loved trying the new SOS Primers from Clarins and the MAC Lunar New Year lipsticks, which Himself has described as looking like tampons. Thanks, Himself. 
  • Lastly and most excitingly, Leo Varadkar has announced that a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment will go ahead this year and in May, no less. Got to get the old campaigning boots back on and also possibly organise a flight home for a day to vote from the previously mentioned trip to Sweden! 

    Phew! That feels better! I think I demonise January a bit too much, lots of good things happened! How was your month? What lovely things did you do to make the start of the year a bit more bearable?

    Wednesday, 17 January 2018

    Favourite Books of 2017!

    I'm finally getting around to this and being a bit kinder to myself by only doing my top 5 books of 2017, instead of my top 17...mostly because I'm writing this on Blue Monday (if it's actually a thing), I'm exhausted and also because I don't think anyone reads posts that are that long anymore. I do, if it's something interesting to me, like books, but I know not everyone can spare the time, so here's my condensed version of 2017 book faves. 
    If yisser lucky (joke) I'll still get around to popping up my fave beauty products, but only if January hasn't forced me into a full-on productivity downward spiral altogether.

    Himself by Jess Kidd
    This was the first book I read of 2017 so it's apt that I start with it now. I have a thing about the first book of the year being a good one; of course I'd prefer if they all were but that's not possible. That first fresh read of January though. It just has to be a good one because it sets up my entire reading for the year. I'm not superstitious about most things but that's one I do hold stock with. Anyways, the book itself is about a swagger-y young fella called Mahony who shows up in a small town in Co. Mayo in the 70's, on a mission to find out what happened to his runaway teen mother who disappeared almost straight after she gave birth to him. All is not as it seems; the locals are not happy to see him and it looks like everyone has a secret to hide, or tell, depending on how much they fancy Mahony. Thrown into the mix is the sometimes help/sometimes hindrance that is Mahony's ability to communicate with the dead. It sounds strange but it's actually brilliantly written; very witty, clever, extremely Irish, and yes, very creepy. Loved it!! Jess Kidd has a new book out soon that I cannot wait to read.

    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    This is the memoir of neurosurgeon and cancer patient, Paul Kalanithi. Paul had previously studied English and Philosophy so the book reads quite philosophically, unsurprisingly. He describes how drastically his life changed; going from an extremely hard working neurosurgeon, saving lives daily to being vulnerable and fighting for his own life, his marriage and to get back to the person he was before his tumour changed him irrevocably. I know some have felt the book was too sad but I found it positive and uplifting also. Paul lived his life to the fullest, he loved his family and changed how he practised medicine based on his experiences of being a patient himself. On a personal level, I found his comments about his career and how it affects who he was as a person particularly emotive. Because of these reasons, I think this would also be a great read for health care professionals, as well as everyone else.

    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
    This is from 2013 and I've seen constant references to it in book blogging circles so I eventually got around to reading it this year and it was a revelation. Ursula Todd is born one snowy night in 1910 but doesn't take a breath and dies. In another 1910, Ursula Todd is born again on a snowy night but lives, which means little as she will continue to live different lives and die different deaths from then on. The varying lives Ursula leads are expertly woven together and left me bereft every time something bad happened to her (which happened a lot). It sounds grim but it was unlike any other book I've read and it has many uplifting moments. I didn't enjoy the sequel, A God In Ruins, however. I found it slow moving and I connected less to the characters but I really loved Life After Life.

    Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    This was a late contender and a book club read that I became completely emerged in on our flight to LA.    
    Elena Richardson plays by the rules; in her job, her community and her own home, so she's more than a little put out when enigmatic artist Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive in Elena's affluent suburb, looking to settle down. All of Elena's children become involved in Mia and Pearl's life on some level, obsessions starting in some cases. It's not until Mia's role in a local adoption case comes to light, effecting Elena's best friend, that Elena decides they are in fact enemies- she doesn't trust Mia's motives and begins to dig into her history, uncovering long buried secrets which will have a devastating effect on all their lives. This is a really well written book. It's atmospheric and engaging and the characters are easy to visualise and relate to. Looking forward to reading more from Celeste Ng this year. 

    Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
    I hadn't read Roxanne Gay before and so I was very excited when I saw this collection of short stories on my local library shelf.  Every story has a woman as its protagonist and they're all full, rounded people with flaws and secrets, good and bad traits. I was crying by the end of the first story while others left me completely bereft and others, fuming with anger. I still think about some of the women's stories from time to time. This for me was one of those times when you come across something so new and so different that it floors you a little bit- I'm still not quite recovered. Trigger warning for rape/child abuse if you are thinking of reading it. I need to read everything else she's ever written this year. 

    Honourable mentions go to The Princess Bride by William Goldman (the book of the famous film, the book is also well loved and for good reason), The Break by Marian Keyes (Marian at her absolute best. Loved this story of a marital break, a family in crisis and a woman holding it all together), Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (a sucker punch of a thriller- main character Gwen is in hiding from her serial killer ex but must use her considerable talents to protect herself and her kids from a copycat killer) Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (a funny, poignant, tragic and sweet story of Eleanor; not really socially capable but in need of love), Final Girls by Riley Sager (a horror movie within a thriller, with a twist), Under the Dome by Stephen King (classic King- an epically long read that'll keep you gripped throughout) and The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (a creepy, atmospheric read about family secrets).

    Dishonourable mentions go to The Breakdown by B.A Paris (extremely predictable and slow moving), Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (I didn't care about any of the characters and stopped reading halfway through. It was pretty blah), Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (a drawn out thriller with a preposterous ending), Nine Folds Make A Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan (a complicated and muddled mish-mash of depressing stories in one, a terrible book to read in January).

    And that is my lot. Did any of these make it into your top books of the year? What were your least favourite?