Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Christine Hurley Deriso: All The Wrong Chords | Book Review

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher Flux, via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. This review may contain spoilers.

"Before Liam died, nothing was less complicated than feeling happy. Now, nothings more complicated". 

Scarlett Stiles and her family are going through a difficult time after the sudden death of her twenty one year old brother, Liam. How do you prepare to get over the death of your brother? How do you learn to live a normal life again. "I have a feeling the rest of our lives will be divided into Before and After".

Scarlett is desperate for a change of scenery but spending the summer with her grandfather where she can deal with the tragedy whilst also preventing her grandfather from driving due to his declining health wasn't exactly what she had in mind. Luckily for Scarlett, after almost knocking down a bicyclist name Zach and her grandpa taking the wheel again, she soon discovers that Zach is in a local band and he invites Scarlett and her grandpa to one of his shows. 

Throughout the first few chapters of the novel, we begin to understand the cause of Liam's death, whilst learning more about him. "I've been in town long enough now to know that "heart failure" is the Oakboro version of Liam's cause of death, thanks to Grandpa's spin. And technically, it's correct. I mean, when you fatally overdose on drugs, your heart definitely does fail. But it's kinda like blaming kidney failure when someone's been shot to death." Scarlett questions whether her grandfather is embarrassed or ashamed of Liam's drug addiction or if he just doesn't want to face the truth. We also learn that Scarlett and Liam were very close, Liam was in a band and Scarlett actually played in the band after following her brothers footsteps in having a love for music. She lost interest after Liam's death, "one of the hardest things about losing Liam was losing everything about him, losing him wasn't a single loss: It was a million losses, all at the same time."

"I haven't pulled my guitar out of its case since Liam died, and I haven't been able to listen to any of the songs we used to play together", Scarlett remembers on her way to watch the band play, who we soon discover are called the Beastings. It doesn't take long for Scarlett to notice the 'hot' and 'gorgeous' lead singer of the band called Declan, who she can't take her eyes off. Scarlett isn't one to fall in love with boys but the one time that she does, of course he is more interested in her sister. Declan learns that Sara plays the keyboard and invites her to join the band before being turned down as she is only staying at Grandpa's for the weekend. Instead, she explains how Scarlett plays the guitar and states how she should hang out with the band at some point. 

Whilst reading further into the novel, we soon learn that Declan is the stereotypical 'player' who isn't interested in any one girl but instead likes to lead a dozen on at one time. It is frustrating as a reader, because we know that Declan isn't right for Scarlett but she can't resist chasing him and trying to win him over. You are almost resisting to scream at Scarlett to look around because it is so clear that an almost perfect guy is standing right beside her, but she is too blind to see. Zach is an absolute gentlemen but she is too engrossed in Declan to even notice Zach.

I do think that this book is relatively predictable, from about a quarter into the book we all know that Scarlett will end up going for Zach instead of continuing to fall head over heels for Declan. Having said that, I do think that the journey and storyline to reach this point was fun, emotive and entertaining. We learn a lot about Scarlett's grief and we can almost relate and empathise with her, in what shes going for. She manages to become part of the band and she realises that she is still able to have fun, she learns a lot about herself and even more about her brother, who she thought she knew everything about. We experience all of the ups and downs with her. She learns to live again, whilst promising to herself to never forget Liam and all that he taught her; which heavily influences who she is today. She finally reveals the truth about Declan and follows her heart to find the right person. She also realises that she isn't alone with her grief and that there are so many people around her experiencing similar things.

"Maybe everyone needs one Declan in their past to make them appreciate the Zachs in their present.

And their future.
That's what I'm banking on."

Overall, I really do like this book and would recommend giving it a read, it isn't tedious at all and I was so sad when it came to an end. I think that it is different from the average good boy/bad boy drama and is a lovely romance contribution to the Young Adult genre. I think that it explains grief extremely well and addresses how teenagers can feel when placed in these difficult situations. One thing that I did find hard was that the time shifts very suddenly and I often found myself having to re read lines to realise that time has changed. I rate this book three and a half stars out of five and am pleased that I was able to give this book a read. Its also worth noting that I really like the title of this novel, I think it is really clever and so fitting with the story-line.

This book will be published on December 12th 2017 and includes 280 pages, divides into twenty-seven chapters. Will you be picking up this novel? Have you read it? What do you think?

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Saturday, 18 November 2017

10 New, Exciting & Upcoming Beauty Releases

Hello and welcome back to my blog, today I am going to be sharing with you some exciting beauty products that have recently been launched or are due to be launched very soon. Some of these products are part of a brands holiday collection but I just felt like I needed to share these products with you all. I will warn you now, many of these products do seem to be palettes but there are a few others bits thrown in too! I will leave a list of all the products I will be talking about here, in the order I talk about them if you are wanting to skip some..

  • The Body Shop Bath Bombs & Bath Bubbles
  • Soap & Glory Bath Bombs
  • Too Faced Clover Eye-Shadow Palette
  • Too Faced Chocolate Gold Eye-Shadow Palette
  • Storybook Cosmetics Rose Brush Sets
  • Storybook Cosmetics Wizardry and Witchcraft Eye-Shadow Palette
  • Pur Cosmetics My Little Pony Eye-Shadow Palette
  • Jeffree Star Cosmetics Skin Frost Pro Highlighting Palettes
  • Urban Decay Heavy Metals Eye-Shadow Palette
  • Benefit Foolproof Brow Powder
Firstly, the products that made me decide that I actually needed to write this post are The Body Shop's brand new range of bath products. I am always very torn when it comes to purchasing bath products because I am always asking myself if they'll compare at all with the famous LUSH Cosmetics. I have tried numerous brands of bath products (usually bath bombs) and am yet to find one that I love just as much, or even more. I don't usually buy much from The Body Shop simply because after going far too over-the-top with LUSH Shower Gel's, I have realised that no matter how good they smell, spending over £10 on 250g of shower gel isn't always necessary when they are just as good alternatives in the supermarket. However, these new bath products are only £1.50 each which is an absolute bargain for not only The Body Shop, but also for bath bombs. This new range includes Bath Bombs in the following scents; Mango, Vanilla Delight, Green Tea, Strawberry and Candied Plum as well as Bath Bubbles in the scents Coconut, Moringa and Pink Grapefruit. These products come in the cutest and brightest little packaging and I am desperate to try these out soon. I must admit, after seeing various videos these products do look quite small but if they are anything like the other products that this brand offers then I am sure that they smell incredible. The only fault that I have with these products is that they don't have matching scented bath bombs and bath bubbles, meaning that the two scents could clash. The photos of these products are from The Body Shop's website and are available to buy now.

Sticking on the topic of baths, Soap & Glory have also released a range of three different Bath Bombs, called Fizz-O-Bombs. These products cost £4 each and are in three of their best selling and "scent-sational" fragrances; Original Pink, Sugar Crush and Smoothie Star. These bath bombs appear much bigger than the ones from The Body Shop and I am again, extremely excited to test them out. I must admit, the outer shell of these products are on par with LUSH which is always a good sign. I do like how they brought these products out in a trio with similar designs and these products are available to buy directly from the Soap & Glory website as well as from Boots stores.

Moving onto make-up and starting with one of my favourite brands that I actually have two items to share with you, Too Faced have recently launched a brand new and limited edition eye shadow palette with eighteen gorgeous shades. Of course, this is the Clover Palette and is possibly (alongside the Sweet Peach Palette), the cutest make up product that I have ever seen. We all know that Too Faced are a cruelty free make-up brand and alongside launching this palette, they are donating $250,000 to the 'Best Friend Animal Society'. If you're in the UK, then it probably comes at a downside that this product is exclusive to the Too Faced website which despite promising no custom chargers for international orders, there is always a slightly hefty and annoying shipping and tax charge added to your shopping card before checking out. This palette costs £39 but unfortunately with it's £13.45 shipping cost and £8.84 tax charges, it would cost you a total of £61.29 to get it to the UK so maybe wait until Too Faced do free international shipping which they do every so often. Having said that, this palette is super adorable and I would definitely purchase it if it was available else-wear in the UK. I think that this palette has some super distinctive shades in it and the photos included are from the TF website.

We all are aware that Too Faced have yet again brought out an incredible Holiday Collection (post coming soon) as well as so many new products but the other upcoming product release that caught my eye is one that I actually saw on Twitter and is the Too Faced Chocolate Gold Palette which is launching on the TF website on November 28th, Ulta Beauty on December 3rd and Sephora on December 11th. Unfortunately, I am yet to find information of when this product will be available within the UK at Debenhams stores but lets keep our fingers crossed. This product contains sixteen eye-shadow shades, twelve which are brand new and most of them being vibrant, bold, metallic and shimmer shades. I am not sure of the price of this palette but I imagine it would be around the same price as the previous Chocolate Bar palettes (£49 from the TF website - I swear these used to be cheaper?) And my guess was confirmed, on the Debenhams website they are £39 so I'm not entirely sure if Too Faced have upped their price or if there has been an error. Either way, lets hope this new palette launches in Debenhams stores. The photo for this palette is from the Too Faced official twitter page.

Storybook Cosmetics is a brand that I haven't actually tried before but their products are so insane and would definitely make you feel like you're living in a fairy tale. The first product that I want to talk about is their new brush sets that actually come in two different designs and colours, these being What's In A Name Rose Brush Set and Limited Edition Roses Are Black Brush Set. Both sets are £45 and I definitely prefer the Roses Are Black Set as they are just more suited to me but I like how you have the option of two designs. They both contain exactly the same products which are four face brushes; Tapered Highlighting Brush, Angled Contour/Blush Brush, Flat Top Powder Brush and the Dome Top Powder Brush. I saw the internet going crazy other these brushes and so many people related them back to Beauty And The Beast which I can see the similarities and makes me want these brushes despite not needing them. I like how unique these brushes are and this brand as a whole. The photos of these sets are from the Beauty Bay UK Website and they are available to purchase now. 

Upon finding these brush sets online, I stumbled across a new eye-shadow palette from the same brand which I thought was cool and is the Storybook Cosmetics Wizardry and Witchcraft Palette that retails for £45 and contains nine shades that are a mixture of metallic and matte shades. Harry Potter fans, have you seen this palette? Everything about this palette is incredible, the design is so cool and is designed as a book. The only thing that stops me from buying this palette are the actual shades because I don't feel that they are very unique and I could probably find all of these shades within the palettes I own. Most of the shades are deep and dark shades with a few neutrals for a base. I do really like this palette and I love the design, I just couldn't justify spending the money on it when I already own very similar shades. This palette is again available now on the Beauty Bay UK website.

Moving on to a brand that I have heard a lot about, but never actually tried and is the Pur Cosmetics My Little Pony Eye-Shadow Palette which is a palette inspired by the characters and colours of My Little Pony: The Movie. I love this palette, it only costs £25 and the colours are adorable. I think that everybody needs a bright coloured palette within their collection and this is such a good and reasonably priced one to go for. It contains sixteen shades that are a mixture of bold, bright and neutral colours with some being shimmers and others being matte. This is honestly such a cute little palette and I really would love to hear your thoughts if you've tried this palette. It is currently available on the Beauty Bay Website.
An upcoming launch that I honestly cannot contain my excitement for are the Jeffree Star Cosmetics Skin Frost Pro Highlighting Palettes, that's right.. palettes!!! I know that these are part of the Jeffree Star Cosmetics Holiday Collection and I said how I am saving Holiday Collections for another post but I could not resist mentioning these. We all love the Jeffree Star Highlighters due to their insane pigment and large pan sizes but he is finally bringing out not just one, but two highlighter palettes. The two palettes are 24 Karat Gold and Platinum Ice. 24 Karat Gold is designed for and works better on medium to darker skin tones and is gold themed whereas Platinum Ice is completely versatile. Each palette contains six shades; two existing shades and four brand new. The palettes cost $40 each which is actually very reasonable and is about the same price as Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighter Palettes. They have a gorgeous brushed metal packaging and the pan sizes are still such a generous size. Jeffree hasn't stated whether and if so, when these palettes will be released within the UK. These palettes are launching on November 18th (today) on his website and all of the up to date information can be found in his Holiday Collection Reveal YouTube Video and the photo included is from his Twitter account.

Urban Decay have recently launched a new eye-shadow palette (another eye palette, I know) and it isn't the Naked Heat Palette that the world has gone crazy for or unfortunately a Moondust 2 Palette but is somewhat close enough. It is the Heavy Metals Metallic Eye-Shadow Palette which is describes as "a shadow mayhem in a crushed metal case". It is another limited edition palette and contains twenty brand new and exclusive "amped-up metallic shadows". This palette is even organised with brights on the left and neutrals on the right. The shadows within this palette are all a new formula to create their most foiled eye-shadows yet. This palette costs £43 and is available on the Urban Decay UK website now. I am so obsessed with this palette and I don't even own it. Will it compare to my beloved Moondust palette? Will I love it even more? We'll have to wait and see but I know that this is definitely one that I will be picking up. I can't even get over how pretty it is.

Lastly but not least, the final product that I have to share with you today is an eyebrow product from Benefit. It is the Foolproof Brow Powder and comes in three different shades; 01 (light), 03 (medium) and 05 (deep). This product is £20 and comes in a cute little compact with an eyebrow shaped pan. The product contains two different shades, a lighter one for the inner parts of the brow and a slightly darker shade for the arch to add as much definition as possible. Benefit states that it is a soft filling powder and doesn't leave any harsh lines. We all know that Benefit have released a whole range of brow products over the past year and I am sure that we have all found a favourite.. mine being the Gimme Brow which annoyingly is being recalled by various suppliers. I am intrigued to try this new brow product, I just think that they should have released it in all six of their usual brow shades as I find that shade 01 doesn't really do much to my brows but shade 03 is slightly too dark. 

Other new products that have recently been launched include the Huda Beauty Winter Solstice Highlighting Palette, £40, the Huda Beauty new Obsessions eye palettes in the shades; Mauve Obsessions, Warm Brown Obsessions, Smokey Obsessions and Electric Obsessions, £25 each, Lime Crime HI-LITE Unicorns Palette, £33, Violet Voss The Rainbow Palette, £28 and the Zoeva Opulence Eye-Shadow Palette, £18. All of these products can be found on the Cult Beauty website, if you'd like a part two where I talk in depth of these products then do let me know. There are so many new products being released but I would be here all day if I were to talk about each and everyone. Which products will you be purchasing? 

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What Does it Mean to Be Recovered?

When you've struggled from long term mental illness, it is hard to imagine yourself 'recovered' because you don't know what to expect, you aren't sure if a full recovery is possible and lets be real, what the hell is life without a poorly head? We all hope to make a full recovery, where our mental illnesses are a distant memory but how is that possible when it has taken up such a big chunk of our lives? I managed to wake up one morning wanting to not be in this world, scared that I was going to live, so why can't I just wake up one day being fearful of death and with an overwhelming sense of happiness? 

One thing that I have been told numerous times throughout the years is that having structure and routine is two of the most important aspects of recovery, but nobody warned us that no matter how stable we may be, we still feel broken, we still would rather die than live and that things are still absolutely shit. Is this what recovered means? To be stable, away from self-destructive behaviour, not actively trying to end our lives, some days feeling not happy nor sad, just a dull numbness in between and other days spent sobbing over how much we want this pain to end, but can't see a way out other than to end our entire existence? If you're able to go out frequently, face your anxieties, hold down education or a job and maintain relationships, does that make you recovered? Despite the fact that your head is still a busy, overflowing state of evilness and darkness? Despite the fact that you still don't see the point in continuing? Does being discharged from services or free from medication make you better? Do we truly manage to recover? Is it possible? When I think of recovering or being recovered, free from mental illness it just seems completely impossible. I have been in recovery for almost four years now and it is exhausting and so. much. hard. work. but things are still bad and I still wake up with a gut feeling of dread and sadness towards the day. I still am fighting everything inside of me to make it through the day, every single day for things to still be rubbish. 

Being recovered is defined as returning to a normal state of health, mind or strength. The internet is full of articles telling us that it is possible for people to recover from mental illness but compared to all of the people who came out the other side, completely recovered and living normal, happy lives how many people didn't make it? How many people spent their whole life trying to recover and trying to reach that happy and content feeling? How many people lost their battle to mental illness?

Mental Illness is a hard illness because it is essentially invisible despite some of its side effects being very visible. I have tried too many times to pretend that everything is great, to make myself as busy as possible to distract myself from my head, to do forty hour weeks at work just to escape the darkness and emptiness deep inside of me but eventually, it all comes crashing down no matter how hard you try to avoid it. What happens when everything in your life is going amazingly, when you've got a great and supportive family, a job, a boyfriend and incredible friends but everything still feels insanely dull and down? Will it ever go away? Does it ever end? Or does it just end you? 

One of the hardest things I have found so far is that when you become unwell as a child or teenager, the weeks, months and years zoom past and suddenly you're trying to recover as an adult when you really didn't believe that you'd make it this far, you didn't even think you'd make it to your 13th birthday yet here you are, an adult. I am such a different person to what I was pre-illness and so much has changed, I'm not sure if this is due to my illness or simply because I have gotten older but almost everything is different. You hope and expect to return to the person you was before, but you were only a child then and you had so many different opinions to what you do now. You've had to mature and it is really difficult trying to work out how to recover into adulthood considering that the majority of your teenage years have been a blur. I don't know what I want to do with my life, I don't know what sort of person I want to be so how am I expected to recover into normality when I am clueless to what this normality is?

Surely a full recovery is possible because we're all still here, living our lives and trying to get through the days because of hope. There is always hope and there are so many people living proof that it is possible to live a 'recovered' life, its just so difficult to understand how you get there, when every one step forward is thrown back down with three steps back. You may be reading this thinking that I am being so pessimistic but it is such a difficult topic to get your head around after being unwell for so long. How does it work? When will it happen? Why hasn't it  happened yet? But it has already started to happen, it is just a slow process with lots of baby steps but one day those baby steps will all add up into big steps and before you know it, you'll be carefree and feeling alive, despite it all and you might have the same relationships, job and ambitions but it also could all be completely different and it might be what you expected, what you dreamed of but again, it might not be but everything will seem worth it in the end no matter how many months or years it takes, you'll get there, we all will because it has been proven so many times from tonnes of different people across the world. And sure, some people might be pretending that they're fully recovered when they're far from it to give you hope, but among them, there has got to be so many honest people who have made it to the other side, who couldn't imagine their life being any better and who can't believe that some time ago, they were that person who was filled up with anxiety, self hatred and negative thoughts, that they were you. But they've been there and they've got through it and they've shared their stories to inspire and prove to us, that we can and we will do it, we will make it because they were once in the same position as we are, unsure about our futures and who we are without our mental illnesses. 

Yes the bad days, weeks and months still heavily outweigh the good but why give up now? After all the fight you've been through, after all the battles you've won and after all the years of sadness? We're so much closer to being recovered than we were and we've been through too much to quit now, so whilst we're stable and even on the days, weeks and months that we are not stable at all, we must keep moving forward because we have to be the ones to change, we are the only ones who can fix ourselves and we must keep going at it, because if not, what was the point? We have been built up strong and better days are coming, we just have to keep at it because we could be so much closer than we think. We are worth so much more than our illnesses make us, we have potential and we will get through this. Anyone can get through mental illness, it just takes time and dedication. Surround yourself with good people, do fun activities and always talk to people about how you're feeling because it is the best therapy. Go out of your comfort zone and when things don't go to plan, rise above it instead of hiding away. You're worth so much more, just believe me when I say it.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Lori Perkins: #MeToo | Campaign & Book Review

Disclaimer: Before starting to read this post, I want to just warn you that it does heavily contain discussion of sexual abuse, assault and rape, which can be triggering to some. Please don't read if you feel that this post could upset or distress you.

"For me, this book is my way of putting my time and money where my mouth is. I gave up many nights of sleep putting it together, and my staff worked 'round the clock to get it to you in as short time as possible. The authors donated their pieces for free. Riverdale Avenue Books is offering the eBook for free on all platforms in the hope that it reaches as many people as possible. We want to make sure to reach people in the most permanent ways possible. Print is a little more expensive to produce, so we are offering the book at a cost (which means we sell it for the cost of printing and distribution, and we take no profit). So pass this book around. Share it with your sons, brothers, fathers, your daughters, sisters and mothers, your coworkers and friends. Read passages to them, if they won't read it for themselves. Leave it on the desk of someone who should know better. Help us make this movement more than a hashtag. If you do, we'll do a second and third and forth edition - until things change." - Lori Perkins, November 2017

So, unless you've been hiding under a rock, well away from social media you will be aware that in October of this year, the hashtag #MeToo was trending on various different platforms where people, especially women would come forward and tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault with the hope and ambitions to make a change. "The #MeToo social media hashtag, first coined more than ten years ago by Tarana Burke, exploded in October 2017, after a boost from Alyssa Milano, in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's fall. Its popularity demonstrates that lots of women - and some men - have experienced sexual harassment or assault, and are prepared to go public about it." The sudden movement was resurfaced just last month when Alyssa Milano (one of Weinstein's most vocal critics) wrote "If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

In her book, Lori Perkins explains how "there are fine reasons to say #MeToo. Many people I respect have done so. Saying #MeToo supports others who need the courage to come forward. The great chorus of voices can help banish undeserved shame, fear, and isolation that many have lived with for too long. The sense of belonging to a tribe can benefit us here."

#MeToo is such an important movement of such serious topics that need to be addressed. "Within 24 hours of the #MeToo movement, more than 12 million Facebook posts, comments and reactions were made." I personally scrolled through a dozen posts from my own Facebook friends and it really makes you realise how big the scale of the issue is, you're constantly scrolling down your feed thinking 'not her too'. 

Lori Perkins decided that she needed to write a book that includes a bunch of collected and powerful essays of individuals, both men and women, talking through their experiences. Throughout the book, there were a few quotes that stuck in my head. The first being that "women remain silent because we know the statistics, we know that most cases won't make it to court, and those that do won't win." Over the years, I have met many different individuals who unfortunately have experiences of sexual abuse and this quote is very close to home. I have edged people close to me to involve the police and tried to build their courage up to disclose what happened to them only for months later, their cases to be dropped and no charges pressed leaving them with even more fear than they carried before. 

It is important to note that this book is written in America and therefore, all the stories came from American citizens with American statistics. We must remember that this is a worldwide issue and we must start talking. I did manage to find some important statistics of the UK whilst doing some research that I will leave below;

  • Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that's roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.
  • Almost half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year. 
  • 1 in 5 women aged 16 - 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police.
  • Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence.
  • 31% of young women aged 18-24 report having experienced sexual abuse in childhood.
  • In 2012-13, 22,654 sexual offences against under 18s were reported to police in England and Wales with four out of five cases involving girls.
  • Conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator.
  • 1 in 3 teenage girls in England has been pressured into doing something sexual by a partner.
  • A third of female students in the UK have experienced inappropriate touching or groping at university.
This is such an important topic and too many people are getting away with abusing innocent individuals. "Our bodies are not the problem" reads another statement within the book and is possibly one of the truest things I have ever read. Mark Radcliff wrote an essay within this book and gave such an important message aimed towards other men. "So the lesson for us men is simple: This is a problem that men have caused. So we can't expect women to fix it all on their own, even as brave and helpful as these posts are. And it's not enough for us men to just not assault women. We have to do more. Not just not be part of the problem, but actively be part of the solution." I thought that this was such a powerful message and everything that he has said is true. This hashtag and people telling their stories is not enough to make a change, we all have to work together spreading awareness and opening up, encouraging others to be brave enough to seek support and file reports on their assaults and working for a world where sexual abuse and harassment doesn't exist or is dramatically reduced. You can't wait for it to happen to your mother, daughter, niece, wife or friend for you to want to make a difference. We need to prevent it from happening in the first place.

In a different essay, Catherine Gigante-Brown explains how she believes that "I was only.." are the three most dangerous words in the English language, "I was only joking", "I was only trying to help", "I was only.." "No. You weren't. You only offer those weak excuses when you are caught. Yes means yes. No means no. It feels good to stand up to myself. For my rights. For my body. At 19, At 29. At 58. And I am still doing it with words as well as deeds. When will it stop? When we finally see each other as human beings. Period. Not by our sex. Not by our skin colour. Not by our religion. Just as people. People with feelings. Rights. Boundaries. People who deserve better. Respect. Kindness. Acceptance. It starts here. It starts now. It starts with us".

Overall, this is a very powerful and educational book. I would highly recommend giving it a read. It includes a whole bunch of passages from various different writers who explain their own personal stories of sexual harassment or abuse. It has 152 pages and is honestly the most inspiring book I have ever read. I gave it five out of five stars on Goodreads and would love to hear your feedback on what you thought of the book.

I have added into this post a guide (on the left) created by Vonny Leclerc who is a journalist and columnist for The National (a newpaper that supports an independent Scotland) and wrote an article featuring the #MeToo campaign before condensing it into a guide of Flirting vs Harassment and how to give genuine compliments.

This book was published on November 3rd 2017 and the eBook of '#MeToo: Essays About How and Why This Happened, What It Means, and How to Make Sure it Never Happens Again' can be found and downloaded for free on the iBooks App and here at the UK Amazon Kindle store (compatible with the free Kindle App) which also gives you the option to buy the £4.99 Paperback copy. Thank-you for NetGalley for sending me over a copy of the book.

"Let's get educated on sexual predators, and on our own vulnerabilities, so that we can help the collective movement towards a better world."

"We are not a mob. We are a movement."

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

The Guardian News Article: Women Worldwide Use Hashtag MeToo Against Sexual Harassment
Rape Crisis UK: Statistics
Refuge UK: Sexual Violence - The Facts
#MeToo: Lori Perkins: Essays About How and Why This Happened, What It Means, and How to Make Sure it Never Happens Again

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Comparing Two Tam Beauty Mystery Bags | Awful VS Amazing?!

Some time ago, admittedly around six weeks ago, I decided that I needed to get my hands on the new Make-Up Revolution X Soph Palette and I thought that there wasn't a better time to get it from Tam Beauty's website than when they had a free mystery bag offer on. The palettes only came to a total of £18, meaning that I had to spend another £12 in order to qualify for a free bag. This was quite easy for me, as I knew that I needed some more primer and it also gave me the chance to try out a drugstore primer. 

If you aren't already aware, Tam Beauty is an online beauty website and store that was fairly recently created by the team behind Makeup Revolution; a well known drugstore brand, best known for their high-end 'dupes'. Tam Beauty are cruelty free and a number of different beauty brands including Makeup Revolution, Freedom and I Heart Makeup. Most of their products can be found across the UK in Superdrug stores.

I was so excited to receive my mystery bag as I had seen them advertised time and time before (they run mystery bag deals fairly frequently and currently have an offer on). I really had no clue with what to expect and to be entirely honest my first bag (Bag One) was rather disappointing and included a broken product. I was quite annoyed because although the bags were free, I had bumped up my shopping basket in order to meet the £30 threshold to receive a mystery bag. I cannot fault the customer service team one bit because again, despite these bags being a 'free gift', not only did they replace the broken item, they actually sent me out an entirely new mystery bag (Bag Two). 

To be honest, I am not sure how they actually work the mystery bags as I am not sure if they are filled with products that are being discontinued or products that aren't selling well but surely they aren't just for marketing and promoting their products considering how many bags they end up sending out, multiple times throughout the year, plus each mystery bag is worth over £25. Nonetheless, many of us are grateful that they do offer this opportunity. Without me rambling even further, lets get straight in.

Mystery Bag One

Upon opening this bag, I was amazed at how many products were jam packet inside but I soon became very aware that there seemed to be a specific colour theme which was pink. I did get a variety of different brands inside and completely different products, some that I may get use out of and others that I definitely wont. This bag contained twelve different products which is insane for a free gift; even monthly subscription beauty boxes don't contain this many products. I will include close ups of all the products below. The products inside includes:

  • Makeup Revolution Ultra Face Base Foundation in FB 12 (Yellow Tone), £3 - This product is described on the front as a BB Cream Foundation that is long lasting. It comes in a 30ml tube that is full size. I knew straight away that this product would be too dark for me, especially after looking up the shade and I am pretty sure that this is a shade on the darker end of the scale. 
  • Freedom Blush in True Loved, £1 - This product is simply a pressed pigment powder blush and is actually in a really lovely pale pink shade that I imagine would leave a nice, natural tint to the cheeks. This product is definitely in my pile of products that I want to give a go and considering that it retails at only £1, you can't really go wrong.
  • Makeup Revolution The One Blush Stick in Dream, £5 - This is one of the products included in the bag that I was so eager to try out, the shade is a gorgeous nude/pale pink but unfortunately was the product that arrived broken. Either way, I am still going to try and get this product to work as I haven't really tried a blush stick before. This product is described as 'Vibrant or Sheer for Cheeks or Lips' and instructs you to 'use dry for hi intensity colour finish' or 'use wet for smooth, sheer finish'. This is a slightly paler shade than the previous blush and has a cream consistency. I would have thought that this product is super easy to blend, but I will have to find out for myself.
  • Freedom Eyebrow Kit in Brown Kit, Light Brown, £3.50 - I am not entirely sure of the retail price of this product as I believe that the packaging has been changed but have included the price of the eyebrow kits currently on the website. This product isn't one that I will be using simply because even light brown eyebrow products look far too dark on my skin tone and with my hair. This products includes three brow powders in a light, medium and dark shade of brown and a pink tinted wax as well as some mini tweezers.
  • Freedom Mono Eyeshadow in Brights 229, £1. This product is a true, mid-toned, matte purple. I actually really like the shade of this product but I don't really reach for single eye shadows and I have very similar shades in palettes that I already own so I will most likely pass this product on to somebody who will get a lot more use out of it than me.
  • Freedom Mono Eyeshadow in Gilded 220, £1 - This shade is fairly unique and is a shimmery rose-gold, pink shade with silver reflex. I actually really like this shade although it does remind me of a couple of the shades in the Morphe 35O Palette that I already own. I may keep this product and give a go, but I equally might pass it on for the simple reason that I probably wouldn't reach for it due to it being a single shadow. Having said that, at the moment it is sat in the pile of products that I do intend to keep.
  • Makeup Revolution My Sign Complete Eye Wheel in Scorpio, £5 - This was probably the most exciting product that I picked out from the mystery bag. This product includes an eye primer, eye-shadow, brow power and brow bone highlighter. I want to keep this product due to it being different and I have seen these wheel palettes advertised but I am not overly fond of the shades that distinguishes it and I know that deep down, I won't use it and I certainly do not need anymore eye palettes at the moment. The shadow shades are a true purple, very similar to the Brights single eye-shadow and a plum purple. I feel like I shouldn't really own this palette not only because the shades aren't really my favourites but also because I am not a Scorpio and am actually Sagittarius, which I definitely prefer the shades to. 
  • Makeup Revolution Atomic Lipstick in Scandalous Crime, £1 - This lipstick is a very bright fuchsia with a pink undertone. This shade is definitely not for me and I know for a fact that I won't be using this product so I am going to pass it on. I believe this is one of the old Revolution lipsticks in their old packaging and unfortunately this shade really doesn't appeal to me.
  • Makeup Revolution Iconic Pro Lipstick in Make it in the city, £3 - I loved the packaging of this product, the lipstick itself is in the typical bullet shape and the shade on the outer packaging looked like it was a pretty pink shade but it is actually a true fuchsia shade just like the previous, but much less bright. This is another shade that I won't be using so am going to pass this on to somebody else.
  • Makeup Revolution Salvation Intense Lip Lacquer in Gave You All My Love, £3 - I am really not one to wear gloss and when I do very rarely reach for it, it is always in a nude shade considering that glosses tend to just slide off of my lips. This gloss shade however a hot pink (I did warn you that there was a pink theme), and I wouldn't ever pick this shade up in a shop to look at, let alone wear it as I would imagine it to be very opaque and patchy. 
  • I Heart Makeup Nail Geek Polish in Skeptical 24, £1 - For this nail polish, I couldn't find anything remotely similar on the Tam Beauty Website, giving me the impression that this is a discontinued product but after doing a bit of research, I found that in 2014, these nail polishes were being sold for £1 each. This polish is actually in such a lovely shade, its a marble pink with a mauve undertone. It is also very shimmery but the polish looks very liquefied and runny. I have enough nail polish and although I do like the shade, it does look quite sheer so I am not going to be keeping this product (what a surprise).
  • I Heart Makeup Nail Geek Polish in Out Of Bounds 40, £1. This nail polish is in a hot pink shade, which as you will be sick of hearing by now is a shade that I tend to avoid because it just doesn't suit me no matter if its on my face, nails or even clothing. This polish does look a little less runny and much more pigmented than the previous but I have no use for this polish at all. 
Overall, as you can probably tell, this bag was quite a disappointment. The total contents in the bag comes to a total of £28.50 but the three products that I am going to keep only comes to a total of £7. This bag consisted of two I Heart Makeup products, six Revolution products and four Freedom Makeup products. I would have much preferred if the products were randomly selected and didn't seem to be colour themed and it was quite disappointing that the products I probably would have kept (the foundation and brow kit) were in the wrong shades. I know that each mystery bag is completely randomly put together so that no two are the same but without further ado, lets get straight onto the next.

Mystery Bag Two

When I opened the second mystery bag that made its way through my door, I was so relieved that it contained products that I was actually excited to use and many that I hadn't seen before. I only got nine products in this bag compared to twelve in the past and many are by Makeup Revolution but I could easily tell that I would love this bag so much more the the previous. Like last time, I will include the products below with their retail prices.
  • Makeup Revolution The One Blush Stick In Matte Dream, £5 - I cannot explain how happy I was to have a fully functioning blush stick in this bag. To make things even better, it is in an almost identical shade other than the fact that this one is matte which I actually think I prefer. Due to it being a matte product, you can really tell what sort of shade it is and it is definitely a light dusty pink, great for a natural tint. I am definitely keeping this product and I can't wait to start using it. This product again, has a very soft and creamy formula, despite it being matte.
  • Makeup Revolution Brow Pomade in Caramel Brown, £6 - I am so gutted that brown eye-brows just don't work with my skin tone but I am going to be keeping this product because I really want to find out what the formula is like and I am determined to make it work. I can't believe that this product was inside a mystery bag but I am sure it is a dupe for the very popular Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pomade that almost everyone adores. If I do find that I love the formula, I will definitely be purchasing this product in a lighter shade. This product is described as a smudge proof cream formula for smooth effortless application to brows to define and groom. 
  • Makeup Revolution Ultra Aqua Brow Tint in Dark, £3 - Now this is another product that I am very interested in trying, but considering that it quite clearly states 'dark' on the packaging, I should probably avoid it. This product is described as a smudge proof eyebrow tint that fills, defines and lengthens the brows. I think that this product will be going straight to my mum so that I am still able to find out how well it really does perform. 
  • Makeup Revolution Mono Eyeshadow in I Want U, £1 - This single eye-shadow is a gorgeous gold shimmer that appears brown when no light is shinning onto it. I think this would be such a slightly unique shade to have in a Z-Palette but I know for a fact that I have many very similar shades to this within my palettes and I always forget to use single shadows so I will be passing this product on also. 
  • Makeup Revolution Give Them Darkness Eyeshadow Palette, £6 - Now, this product almost left me gobsmacked when I found it in my free mystery bag. Firstly, I absolutely adore the photo on the front of the palette, giving that really spooky feeling. This palette contains ten shimmer shades and six matte shades. The majority of the shades are very dark shades but have such a wide variety of blues, greens and purples. There are also a few lighter and very pigmented shades including Dusk; a pink shade and Twilight; a gorgeous khaki green shade. I don't own a palette that has almost all dark shades in it and the majority of these shades can be used to create so many different bold and smokey eye looks with different hues of colour. I have tried many Makeup Revolution palettes before and I do love their formula, I just can't believe that this product only retails at £6. Of course I am keeping it!
  • I Heart Makeup Lip Geek Lipstick in Dream about Success, £1.99 - I haven't tried a I Heart Makeup Lipstick before and I am completely sold on their packaging. You can tell that it isn't expensive but it is so bright and bold, very distinctive compared to many brands of lipstick. It is in the typical bullet style packaging with a metallic, bright pink shell and metallic purple on the inside. This lipstick is in a gorgeous light, nude orange with a slightly coral tint. I don't own a lipstick this shade and I think it'll be perfect for the summer months.
  • Makeup Revolution Salvation Velvet Lip Lacquer in Velvet Depravity, £3 - At a first glance, I didn't think anything of this lip product as I presumed that it was a gloss like the previous Salvation lip product. It wasn't until now that I realised that this product is in fact, a liquid lipstick. I have been eager to try these lipsticks for a while now but this is a shade that I am probably going to pass on considering that it is a bright lilac. Having said that, considering that they are only £3, I may have to pick one up to try next time I walk past as they do look very pigmented. 
  • The Colour Experts Nail Polish in Ablaze, £1 - I haven't ever heard of this brand before. After doing some research and not finding a whole lot of information I discovered that it is a brand usually found in B&M stores. I couldn't find the nail polishes online anywhere but I soon learned that some of their make-up products usually cost £1, so I think that that it quite a close estimate to how much the polishes would cost. This shade is a lovely coral orange and I would keep it but I honestly rarely reach for nail polish nowadays and I would only wear this shade in summer.
  • The Colour Experts Nail Polish in Pop, £1 - Another fuchsia product? As you are already aware, this isn't really my go to colour so I won't actually be keeping this product. 
Overall, this bag was so worth spending the extra £12 for considering how much I already love some of the products inside. In this bag, I had less of a variety of brands and in total I received six Makeup Revolution products, one I Heart Makeup Product and two The Colour Experts products. The total worth of this bag comes to £27.99 which is slightly less than the first bag but the contents is so much better. I feel that I was easily able to find the majority of these products on the Tam Beauty website whereas the previous bag products proved quite difficult. I am keeping four of these products that totals to £18.99, making it certainly worth it. It is just a shame that the brow products are all in dark shades, but that's the risk you take when ordering a mystery bag.

Isn't it crazy how two mystery bags from the same brand can contain completely different products? That's all for me today, which bag would you prefer to receive?

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Andrea Portes: Anatomy Of A Misfit | Book Review

Now, I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to actually write a review of this book because quite honestly, I didn't love it and if I was to sum this book up, I would probably just say 'meh'. This is your typical American High School romance about teenagers, something like a trashy Mean Girls. I think that the reason I decided to review this book was because I really wanted to like it, it portrays such important topics and messages, but in the wrong ways and I'm not sure if I managed to read this book within a day because I wanted it to get better or because I couldn't wait for it to be over. Before I start, I firstly want to say how this book is written in a format that I am not only new to, but also don't like. Words like "gonna", "kinda", "dunno" and "shoulda" can be quite hard to read when you're not used to slang being in a book or throughout the entire book. 

I also don't like how almost everything (quite literally) is over-exaggerated. Anika (explained below) talks about "THE Jared Kline" when the most popular boy in the school starts talking to her. By this point in the book, we have already heard about five times about Jared Kline and I just don't see the point in all of the tension which just makes the book seem trashy, what happened to characters explaining how they said a sentence or elaborating on how they're feeling? To make matters even worse, whilst flicking through the book to recap, I have found this exact sentence twice within two pages, we get it, seriously. 

Upon reading the first two chapters of this book, I felt that Anika Dragomir; the main character and narrator was quite immature for her age. She's a fifteen year old girl who is number three in the school's social hierarchy after number one; Becky Vilhauer and number two; Shelli Schroeder who is "my best friend even though she's kind of a slut", so there we have it, offensive words and shaming of her so called best friend on page four of the novel. This book is honestly so full of offensive lines and just implies that so many things are wrong, creating and feeding negative stereotypes for instance; "she makes out and even does the whole in-and-out with the high school rockers. Like a lot". The problem with this statement is that sex is an activities that almost everybody does throughout their life and enjoying sex and having a lot of sex, doesn't make you a slut in the slightest. In only the forth chapter of the book, Shelli tells Anika that there is a party happening on Friday that they should go to, to which Anika replies with "they're just going to try and stick their wieners in us", presuming that the only thing that teenage boys want to do is have sex or even worse, non-consented sex.

Anika talks through her family including her "stupid sisters" who she often makes harsh comments towards before wondering why they don't like her. Her brothers "are in the back, probably setting fire to themselves or killing something" which leaves her mother, who she describes as "the only decent one in the house" which was until she met her husband, Anika's stepdad who she calls 'the ogre'. As you can probably tell by this point, this book is full of stereotypes and each character portrays a different one. I'm not saying that it is bad to have stereotypes in books, but when every single stereotype gets taken to the extreme, you start to wonder how this novel has seriously made it to the bookshelf in W.H.Smith. 

Just as an over cap, so far we are convincing the audience that step-dads are evil, having sex makes someone a slut, that boys like to kill things and to make it even worse, I couldn't believe what I read next. Anika's father is Romanian, making her half American and half Romanian which in today's society, there is nothing wrong with yet she constantly refers to her father as a 'vampire', referring to herself as 'half vampire'. Anika then acts shocked when her brother "doesn't care about being a half breed", a half breed, are you for real? All because just like half of the national, she is from two different countries. Of course, Becky (the number one girl) calls Anika 'immigrant', just to top all these stereotypes off. When reading this book, I got confused what era this book was set in because although the majority of the story relates to modern day things, the stereotypes certainly don't, not for the majority anyway.

I hate to tell you, but these messages only get worse. We soon find out that Shelli's mother is a Christian, no big deal right? Anyway, Anika explains how Shelli's mother "makes her burn her hair after she gets a haircut, so no one tries to cast a spell on her" before saying the following about Shelli, "maybe she can't add. She is a Christian. I don't think they believe in math" as well as saying how when Shelli's mum found out that Anika was half Romanian, she tried to cut contact between the two. 

It really bothers me how easily some of the most offensive words and phrases are thrown around in this book, I have repeatedly heart the words nerd, slut, freaks, bitch, dick etc and these words can get away with being used every so often but they aren't the most pleasant of words to be reading on every other page.

One of the sentences that gets me the most is "the weird thing is.. It's not like you can point at anything that made her that way. It's not like her dad's a criminal or her moms a crack-addict or she was raised in an orphanage or something" when describing and trying to work out why Becky is as mean and harsh as she is. I really don't know what point was trying to be said here, was it that you're going to be a mean or bad person if any of those things have happened to you? 

Now, don't get me wrong. Anika does have a good heart and it seems that she is always trying to cheer up the people constantly bullied and belittled by Becky. She goes to apologise to a girl who Becky made rumors about being pregnant, she tried to talk to another boy Joel who has been constantly beat up and harassed for years after not giving Becky a piece of gum but when it comes to admitting what she has done to Becky, she lies and finds excuses of how her mum told her that if she didn't apologise she'd be grounded, just for an easy life.

One of the main issues that came up throughout this novel is racism, which was portrayed and dealt with correctly to some extend, it would have worked if it wasn't completely and utterly exaggerated which is a shame because it could and would have made a really strong point. The opening line of the thirteenth chapter comes from Anika's boss, Mr. Baum at the Bunza Hut where she works and goes by these exact words; "I just want you to know, I hired a black girl. Don't be scared." Are you actually having a laugh? Did I seriously just read this line from a novel? Anika brushes it off and asks Mr. Baum why they would be scared before telling us that "Mr. Baum, and every other adult I know, seems to actually think this stuff makes some kind of difference" suggesting that although they have been brought up in what sounds like a racist community, they really couldn't care what colour her skin is. We don't hear anything more on this matter until we get to chapter fifteen where Mr. Baum wants Shelli and Anika to meet Tiffany which he then proceeds to whisper "the black girl". Mr. Baum doesn't seem to be happy about the situation which has left me confused due to the fact that if he was as much of a racist as he is made out to be, why would he bother to employ her in the first place? He asks Anika out back for a private word and his side of the conversation includes the following sentences; "Anika, I know you probably are not happy with this situation. For obvious reasons", Anika is confused and asks why to which he responds with "because she's a...negro. And I need you there to make sure she understands...the concepts." Anika explains how she thinks that Mr. Baum needs to give Tiffany a chance to which he tells her how he obviously has done by hiring her. 

Throughout the following chapters, there are continuous comments made about Tiffany and considering that this was meant to be the main purpose of the book, it just doesn't work and it doesn't work because so far throughout the novel people have constantly been put down for being nerds, sluts, religious, gay and the list just goes on. It just doesn't feel like there is any true meaning in this issue after all of that stereotypical comments are made. At one point, we have learnt that Anika and Shelli have been stealing money from work and Anika decides that she can't let Tiffany in on it because "Tiffany is black she's genetically predisposed to steal everything in sight. I mean, it's ludicrous" and goes on to explain how narrow minded many people in their town really are. At this point of the book, I was starting to be pleased that I actually didn't stop reading as I really did think that a positive message would come out of it. However, on the next page the assumptions start to appear. Anika explains how her mother often takes Tiffany home from work when her mom forgets to pick her up which is very out of their way, "I'd be annoyed except you can't help but feel guilty when you see where Tiffany lives. It ain't no country club, that's for sure". A little while later Anika explains how "there's almost a thousand different questions I want to ask Tiffany but every single one of them seems like the dumbest ever" before proceeding to wonder why Tiffany always chooses to eat the free food that they get at work and not before long, Anika is almost convinced that Tiffany isn't eating any food at home and decides that the best thing to do is to invite her over to dinner. Obviously, it is a concern if she wasn't able to eat at home but I don't think that it's right that these assumptions only came up because she's from a different culture. 

I don't want to ramble on anymore about the whole racism section of this book because I honestly think it is so disheartening that this issue had so much potential within this novel, if only it wasn't for the silly remarks at the beginning. There is one more issue though, one that I haven't address which is of course, love and romance and of course, despite being "hideous", Anika ends up with two boys in love with her at the same time. To be entirely honest, I found this quite a boring part of the book, it was constantly her just unsure of which one to go for which results in her staying with the 'popular' boy over the 'nerd' just so she doesn't get her life 'ruined' by her so called friend Becky. It is so clear that she so badly wants to be with the other guy but she is too scared to face the truth that this novel ends in such a horrible tragedy of the boy who Anika was madly in love with, being murdered. Their relationship ended on a bad note and argument and to make things even worse, Anika woke up in the middle of the night with the urge to call him and tell him how she feels about him. We tragically soon realise that this was around the exact time of when the murder happened.

To be entirely honest, the ending of the book was the best part, it felt like it had the most story line and emotions it is just such a shame that the first 85% of the novel was slow and boring and full of negative commends towards different people. I think there are probably more people who picked up this book before putting it down after twenty chapters than there are who actually finished it. On Goodreads, I rated this book two stars out of five because of its awful and slow story-line and it's appalling stereotypes. I honestly could probably write a whole book on the negatives to this novel but I have rambled enough. I feel that I have been a bit harsh to the writer of this novel but in all honesty, she is obviously very talented but a book like this was going to be very hit or miss and I am afraid that from me, it is a miss. If you don't believe how bad some of the comments in this novel are, then give it a look for yourself but prepare to be disappointed, please.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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