Saturday, 29 August 2015

Reads of the month: August 2015

£7 for 2

Hi guys,
 I haven't done a reads of the month for a super long time. I have had sooo many issues with my ereaders that I can't even go into it without hulk smashing. Unfortunately I broke my trusty kobo ereader last year and decided to upgrade to a  kobo Arc 7hd tablet. All I will say is 3 defective ereaders in less than 7 months this year and a loss of £160 later! Safe to say my reading habits have been affected in many ways! Any way I needed some new reading material, so I headed over to Tesco and picked up 2 books for £7. I am into a lot of genres so chose 2 very different books to keep me entertained. Lets get started.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen ( 3.5 stars)

Set in the 24th century, soon to be crowned Kelsea Raleigh Glynn begins a fraught and perilous  journey to reclaim her dead mothers throne and right the wrongs of her decimated kingdom, on her 19th birthday. Having been raised by her mothers most trusted friends in hiding to thwart those out to kill her. She rides to her potential doom bearing her right to rule in the form of  the Tearling sapphire. A ancient jewel with unknown magical powers and the backing the Queen’s Guard. Described as plain and studious, Kelsea feels the burden of her throne keenly.She is ill-equipped to deal with the treacherous ways of the royal court, when all she really wants to do is read her books and learn new things. 

Determined to do and be better than her mother Queen Elyssa, Kelsea resolves to rule with fairness and strength taking her first stand against her uncle and arch enemy the red queen and potentially sparking a war. Having finally claimed her crown, queen Kelsea now begins to dismantle and rebuild her kingdom.

This is definitely mature YA. I think this has the potential to be a very good trilogy but I don't think it brings any thing new to the table in terms of fantasy. The history is a little patchy and unexplained as to how these countries came to be -no spoilers but I am hoping this will be delved into in the second and third instalment. 

I liked the fact that the main protagonist Kelsea is a female that doesn't pander to many of the female character tropes within literature. But was disappointed with the fact that at the expense of not being cut from the cloth of the traditional princess, Kelsea is described as "plain". In order for her to be smart she can't be pretty. Not that she has to be beautiful but this is mentioned a few times in the book.Perhaps playing to the notion that this is aimed at YA, Kelsea also suffers from unrequited love and falls in love with the dark and mysterious criminal who kidnaps and helps her escape being murdered. I found this story line didn't enhance the the book and was unnecessary. Or the fact that Kelsea makes major decisions with her heart although she is described as studious and analytical. Again not a big deal but does contradict some of her earlier character traits. There is no mix of those two. I think I would have personally enjoyed this more if Kelsea came across as a powerful, self-possessed, assured 19 year old women ready to take up her mantle and carving out her own path although she has had this role trust upon her and getting to see more of her personality.

In a time when newspaper is king the murder of teenager Sarah Reese, the daughter of powerful Washington, D.C. judge has gripped the city. Seasoned once upon a time war journalist Sully Carter is covering the death of Sarah and the subsequent arrest of 3 local young men. 
With a back drop of racial and sociopolitical tension mentally scarred, functioning alcoholic Sully wades his way through a pile of  incorrect information and misdirection. To find the truth behind this murder and how it is linked to the disappearance and subsequent murders of local women from the area Sarah was found in.

Drawing on his less than upstanding source crime kingpin Sly Hastings for the word on the street. Sully deduces that the 3 young men have been arrested incorrectly and nothing is as it seems. Making him several steps ahead of the police and leading to his superiors at the newspaper to question his work.

Sully has stumbled upon a pattern of murder with a few blocks in a neighbourhood but is swiftly shut down by his editors. Sully pushes forward with this and is swept up in a unforeseen series of events.

I am a big fan of crime novels but didn't really enjoy this book that much. I just didn't get into it. None of the other characters were as developed as Sully and it was very clear when reading it. I think it is a book you either love or can do without. I found the use of Sully going into this down trodden area and being made out to be a saviour of these wrongly accused men and the voice of the people within the neighbourhood very stereotypical and stale. Tucker did try to give Sly Hastings the opportunity to met out "street justice" for these young women but again the idea of sly meting out illegal punishment whilst sully takes a cleaner so to speak route is problematic. The novel does however highlight the fickle nature of global media and how that ties into race, who are given the right to be victims, politics and wealth. 

This is actually based on the true case of the Princeton Place murders. Unfortunately the murders went undetected as the women who were murdered were of an ethic background and were not seen to have unsavoury pasts.

There you have it my loves, hopefully I didn't give away any spoilers!

What are you reading?

Until next time................

Stephanie aka Wednesdays Girl

Don't forget to come find me and    

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Balance Active Formula Snake Venom Face Mask review

Balance active formula has just come back onto my radar after I heard a few people raving about one of their products. The name and design of the packaging looked really familiar to me and I realised I had one of their products sitting at home. I actually bought the  Balance Snake Venom Face Mask nearly 2 years ago on a whim when snake venom was the new second coming. It has been sitting in my bathroom cabinet and I am not sure why I haven't used it! I have been making up for that lapse in judgement and have really enjoyed the results. I have been using the parabens  free mask once a week for the last 6 weeks and I have to say I really like it. It makes good on its claims to tone, refresh and purify without stripping my skin. 

The formula is very nourishing and leaves the skin supple. The first time I used the mask I did experience a little bit of tingling on my nose and inner cheek area that lasted about 2 minutes but it wasn't uncomfortable or alarming.
haven't experiened it since. 

The mask didn't leave my skin uncomfortably tight or dry but and I feel as though my serum glided over my skin even more so than usual and sank in even quicker after using this. My face felt incredibly soft and that soft smoothness lasted well into the following days. In fact I would say it is a very moisturising mask. I also noticed that my skin was brighter after each use and glowed. 

The main active ingredients are Natural clay, Syn®-Ake as well as moisturising Agent & Orange Oil. It is suggested to be used once a week but I would consider using it twice per week if I needed an extra boost. I would definitely recommend trying the Balance Snake Venom Face Mask whatever your skin type as it didn't alter my skin oils at all. Balance Active formula actually have online stores which is very convenient and their prices are incredibly reasonable. 

 I will be stocking up and trying a few more products from this range too. Look out for these additions in future.

Tip: Before letting the mask set give yourself a quick facial massage and the product works even better!

Have you tried the Balance Active formula range?

 What are your go to products?

Stephanie aka Wednesdays Girl

Don't forget to come find me and    

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

D.I.Y: How to make homemade virgin Coconut oil

Fun fact I adore fresh young coconuts but loathe the desiccated dried flake stuff! yuck!!
Don't waft a Bounty bar at me as I will definitely have to consider what we have going on here! 
What do we have going on here?! lol

So my Mum went a little over board and bought about 9 coconuts and after eating a few and savouring that delicious coconut water, we were at a loss with what to do with them.
 The logical answer was to make virgin coconut oil.
It is pretty simple ( can be time consuming)  to do and the end result is soooo rewarding. Coconut oil can always be found in my house. It is great for cooking, skincare, haircare and medicinal purposes. 

Tools needed:

I used 6 coconuts
 If you don't have this chopping the coconut and putting into a blender with a small amount of water works well too.
2. Cheese cloth or small holed metal sieve
3. 1 large pot
4.1 large container
5. soup ladle
6. clean sterilised containers for storage

 Step 1 - Drain the coconut by piercing 2 of the eyes with a clean knife or screwdriver and empty coconut water into a container. (This great by itself or in smoothies)

Step 2 - Crack Coconuts in half and shave or remove from shell and cut the coconut meat into uniform sizes.  

Step 3 - Place all of the Coconut meat in a clean container and add double the amount of cold water to the amount of Coconut leave for 45 mins and then strain creamy coconut water into a separate container.

*Step 4*- If you used the grater ignore this step. Pour your coconut meat and cold water into a blender and blend until you have a smooth creamy consistency. 2- 3 mins max.

Step 5 - Once you have your Coconut meat separated by using a sieve or cheesecloth,  from your Coconut milk allow the milk to settle in a cool place overnight to 2 days. The cream will rise to the top and have sediment in the bottom. Carefully scoop out the  Coconut cream and place in another clean container. Then drain the liquid and collect the sediment at the bottom. Throw the water away.

As this is a D.I.Y coconut oil extraction it wont be cold pressed as we don't have a machine to extract and will be doing it by hand. Plus we want to extract a maximum amount of Coconut oil.

Step 6- Place the Coconut cream in a pan and cook on a gentle heat. The cream will begin to turn brown and you will see oil collecting.

Step 7- When the cream is dark brown but not burnt remove from heat and pour oil into your sterile containers using a sieve to remove sediment.

6 Coconuts should yield 5 60 ml jars and 1 500 ml jar for cooking minimum. 
Please do be aware however that there is no set amount of meat inside a standard sized mature coconut so results may differ.
F.Y.I for those who have pores that clog easily Coconut oil lists high on the comedogenic ratings scale. It is not an issue for all but I would highly recommend doing a patch test just in case.

P.s the leftover coconut flesh is totally usable and can be used in food or desserts. You an freeze them in ice cubes so you have usable portions. the same goes for the coconut cream and milk which is great in Thai curries/ smoothies etc.

So that is it guys incredibly simple and cheap as chips! 

Your hand may ache but they be looking cute and moisturised lol!

Until next time................

Stephanie aka Wednesdays Girl

Don't forget to come find me and    

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Skincare haul : Summer 2015

So I have decided to have a little rejig of the old skincare routine, as I have been experiencing 2 issues that I want to sort out and also try some new things.

1. A few (2 small) dry patches, which are a lot better since I started double cleansing again but I want to get ride of asap!

2. Hayfever has given me the weird symptom of making my face feel very hot for the last two years and this is making my face feel sweatier/ look shinier. Weird I know.

To tackle my moisture/ shine issues I bought:

I have used the Vitamin E range before and really liked it. I haven't come across a Superdrug own brand product that hasn't agreed with me. This moisturiser is very rich so I use a very small amount and find it makes a nice night moisturiser too.

My first impressions of the Simply pure serum is utter love! I really like this serum and it works really well with my skin. I feels plump and looked great in the morning. I will be doing a review in future but for now and at that price very nice! Friends and the blogosphere had it right!!

I also picked up  a few items from the Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel range on sale.

Again I really, really like the look and feel of my skin whilst wearing this gel moisturiser. I have been told that gel formulations are better for oily skin. Although I am combination/ normal most of the time this has worked really well due to my hay fever making me look shiner and feeling oilier. I have been using this for just over 2 week and really like the results!
It doesn't contain SPF so heads up.

I haven't tried the peel off mask just yet as I don't want to overload my skin with too many new items. So I cant say how effective this is as of yet  but the reviews have been pretty good.

I liked the the moisturiser so much I went back and picked up the Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Night Gel £2. I have used this for about 10 days and my initial impressions are very good. It makes my face feel very silky and my skin still feels refreshed in the morning. I think I will use this a few days a week as tea tree and witch hazel are fairly astringent and intense at times. I haven't experienced any dryed out skin so far which is good. The formulation strikes a great balance between targeted blemish treatment & retaining moisture. I will be keeping this in my skincare sos stash.

I also picked up a tube of Indeed Labs hydraluron™ moisture boosting facial serum £16.66 in the sale. Get yourselves down to boots and stock up as it is usually £24.99! This is my first full tube as I have used samples in the past. Although I like this, it isn't life changing OMG for me. I don't know if my skin is in pretty good condition or a bit too young to see dramatic results with this. The overall feel and look of my skin is better with the combined use of my new products but I don't feel this is holy grail for me especial at the original price. I think it is good to have in your skincare sos kit for when you just feel rough or need an extra lift or using it as an intensive treatment as I am but not for everyday use. I intend to use this everyday until it has finished and then use the Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum as my main serum. I think I will also do a review later on if I see any significant changes.

Face masks are always great for brightening the skin and I thought the combination of these 3 would moisturise and brighten plus who doesn't like, honey, spice and chocolate?! I always stock up on various masks as they are super cheap.

Pore strips another item to keep in your skincare sos kit. I don't really get clogged pores or blackheads on my nose but I do have a few visible pores on my inner cheeks and I watched a video on youtube about how detrimental it can be to ignore your pores particularly the nose. It was GROSS! I picked these up in the 99p shop and at that price you cant go wrong really.

I spoke a while back  in my TonyMoly haul about wanting to try more Asian skincare and had heard really good things about the  Shills  Black Mask Purifying Peel off Mask which is Taiwanese specifically.
I have tried this twice and like the way it allowed my serums and moisturiser to sink in after use but I will say this is NOT for those with dry or very sensitive skin. It is supposed to target pore cleaning and tightening as well as an overall treatment. It didn't really collect much pore debris for me but once I had removed the mask which didn't hurt at all, there were a few twinges but nothing major my face was DRY! Not a natural oil to be found. My face didn't feel tight or uncomfortable and did return to normal once moisturised. My visible pores looked smaller, so I may use this as a area specific mask instead of a overall face after my trial period.

London experienced a momentary heatwave lol and I stocked up on some more Solait Clear Protect SPF20 £5.99 on sale. I like this as It doesn't give me that dreaded blue or white caste as many protectors do on dark skin and isn't greasy. It absorbs right away and with SPF20 I feel like I have good protection but I am also able to receive a good dose of vitamin D & get that glow. Although it may take more to achieve it and longer to see damage. Darker skin can receive sun damage etc so it is always good to be protected.

I dropped into Primark and Wilko briefly to pick up some essentials. I always have a few wash clothes on the go as I use them for cleansing and so I don't have to use the same one everyday.
The pink flannel is 30p from wilko and is holding up very well and doesn't leave fibre residue on my face as the black Primark ones £1.50 unfortunately do. I am not the biggest fan of pink but the only other alterbnative was white and I hate them once they start going off white! This has started to lessen with more use though.

I also grabbed about 15 packs of Wilko Everyday Value Facial Wipes 30p each which I use for just about everything but wipe my face with. I use them to clear my make up area/ desk if it isn't serious enough for antibac wipes. They are nice just to have around the house, for festivals, emergenies, in desks and in my bag. I used to remove my eye make up with these occasionally  back in the day but cleansers are the way forward for me these days, with and with out the aid of  Wilko Skin Therapy Cotton Wool Pads 70p per pack.

Finally not actually related facial skincare but still kind of related to general skincare is deodorant. I really love the smell of Soft & Gentle Orchid and passion fruit as well as Wild rose and vanilla. I find that these last and work really well but I am looking for a more natural formula that is kinder to the skin. Let me know what your using.

So that's my skincare haul what new things have you bought lately?

Stephanie aka Wednesdays Girl

Don't forget to come find me and