Tuesday, 29 September 2015

#reviewsdaytuesday: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

October hasn't even started yet but BookTober is up and running with full force! To kick the month of I thought I'd start with a review of one of the best books I've read this year.

The Shock of the Fall is told from the perspective of a nineteen year old, Matt, whose brother died ten years ago. It is written fragmentally, past and present co-existing as he writes sporadically in therapy sessions, on a typewriter in his flat, in a high security mental health facility. In this way we are tunnel visioned into Matt's life. We are completely restricted in his emotions (which are many and varied), in his memory (which is visited regularly) and his mental state (which he is aware is poor).

The structure of the novel often reflects the fluctuations in Matt's mental health - even by the end of the story I wasn't entirely sure where (in linear terms) we were. This works in the novel's failure, and for me helped me feel immersed in Matt's confused world.

The voice of the novel is simultaneously child-like and poetic. There is a beautiful simplicity about the prose, and were it not for the references to drink and drugs I would often forget I was reading from the point of view of a young adult. Matt is very childlike in a number of ways, and very old before his time in others. Racked with guilt about his brother's death, he is stuck aged nine, yet his complex thoughts about life and death reveal an un-tapped intellectual ability beyond his years. Often funny, deeply sarcastic, Matt is a likable character despite his many flaws (the way he treats those who care about him, for example).

I really enjoyed this book. It serves as a good discussion of mental health, grief, and the social care system. It is also excellent as a piece of literature, and the writing is perfectly balanced - providing stability in an otherwise unstable novel.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Introducing BookTober

Today's post was originally going to be my two current favourite Autumn make-up looks, but I'm currently on holiday and have found I've left some of my makeup at home! So I'm doing a swap around and that post will come next week, so I can introduce BookTober a week early!

I'm planning on reading a lot over the next few weeks, as I really need to kick me TBR pile. To help that, I've set myself some reading goals for the month. I've deliberately created them with certain books in mind, but I've allowed myself some overlap in case I find myself struggling for time.

1) A book written by a non-white author.
2) A book written by a woman.
3) A Man Booker book (past or present).
4) A play.
5) A book that's been on my TBR for over a year.
6) A non-fiction book.
7) A book I've been gifted.
8) The first in a series.

I'm also planning on reading a poem a day, with the view of maybe completing a small collection of poetry.

What does all of this mean for you? Well, over the next month I'm going to come good on all of my promised book reviews plus some extra, so there will be at least one book-review-style post a week. I also want to post at least one bookish discussion post, so you can look out for that! I've already said I'm going to post my Autumn make-up look next week, but I've also got an Autumn wardrobe edit lined up. This means that there's likely to be two posts a week! (I know, I'm as tentative as you are!)

I'm really looking forward to BookTober! Let me know if you decide to join me on my bookish quest! You can use the goals I've created, or create your own. The real goal is to kick my TBR pile down a few pegs!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cruelty Free Comparisons: Mascara

As you might have seen, last month I started off a new series 'Cruelty Free Comparisons', in which I review two beauty products, one high(ish) end, one budget(ish) and see if either of them are worth the money. If you missed it, here's The Conditioner Edition.

I don't have the budget to consistently buy high-end products to review each month, but I did splash out on a mascara for graduation, so... welcome to The Mascara Edition.


M&S All-In-One Limited Collection Mascara (£5)

High End:

Too-Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (£19)

First things first, the packaging. The M&S mascara has very simple, plain packaging which I actually quite like the appearance of, although as you can see time betrays how cheap it is. Too-Faced's mascara is much weightier, not because the product is any bigger but because the packaging is more expensive. I also really like the shutting system on the Too-Faced mascara. It clicks shut in such a way that it feels like you don't need to keep screwing round the lid to tighten it. The M&S (and most other drug-store mascara's) product just has a normal screw top, and the product definitely dried out quicker.

The brush. Probably one of the most important element to a mascara, second only to the formulation. Both products have a bristled brush, but you can see from the images that the Too-Faced brush is much longer and thicker (as well as having their iconic hourglass shape). The main problem for me with the hourglass brush is that a lot of product collects on the tip, so the finest lashes in the inner corner can sometimes end up looking clumpy. Other than that, the length of the brush really lets me get a good coat of product on. That being said, although the M&S brush is much smaller, the delicate corner application is much better. However, I do have to go in for a lot more coats with the smaller bristles (although that could just be because the product is a few months old, and I remember it applying quicker earlier). 

Better Than Sex on the left, No mascara on the right.
I curled my lashes before applying mascara but after taking the before image.

No mascara on the left, All-in-One on the right.
I curled my lashes before applying mascara but after taking the before image.

Better Than Sex left, All-in-One right.
If you ignore the lighting difference, you can see how much more clumping there is on the right picture than the left.
My eyelashes look much more even and separated in the left hand image, and the curl holds much better.

The formula. Both of these mascaras have the tendency to clump as they both have very thick formulas. This being said, now the M&S mascara has dried out, I actually prefer the application. The Too-Faced mascara applies like a wet version of the dried M&S one (if that makes sense?). In other words, it is much less clumpy and much more even from the off. I can also get muliple layers from the Too Faced product. In the pictures, I've only applied a couple of layers of each product, but if I needed to I could easily continue layering to create a much bolder look with Better than Sex. The M&S product dries very quickly on the lashes, making it very difficult to layer effectively without just creating more clumps. However, the M&S mascara is a lot longer lasting than the Too-Faced product. This was something I really did not expect and it's the main aspect that has really let down the Too-Faced product for me. With the M&S mascara very rarely did I get dark smudges under my eyes after a few hours wear - something I definitely experience with Better Than Sex. It's worth noting that neither products claim to be waterproof, and neither of them are very durable in heavy rain. 

The claims. M&S claims to have produced an 'All-In-One' mascara. For the most part, I think they're bang on, especially for the price tag. It doesn't necessarily curl my lashes, but it definitely gives me volume and length. Too-Faced claims to have produced mascara that is 'Better Than Sex'. I wouldn't necessarily agree, but it is a bloody good mascara!

In conclusion: Better Than Sex wins, but (unless elf open up their uk store soon - their budget products can't be beaten for quality for money) I'd re-purchase All-in-One if I was short on cash. If I had the money, though, Too-Faced would have converted me, and I'd love to try out some of their other products!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Cruelty Free Everyday Skincare Routine August 2015

It feels like it's been donkey's years since I've written skin care routine post, so I thought it was only right to post an update! I'm actually not 100% happy with my routine at the moment, and I'm looking to switch it up, so any suggestions for fabulous, affordable, cruelty free products would be much appreciated.

Morning: I have a full time job, so I'm up at 7am every morning. Not wanting to lose out on anymore sleep, I try to combine as many steps as possible. So, whilst my conditioner is soaking in, I use Superdrug's Tea Tree Exfoliating Cream Wash. If you've read this blog for a while you'll know I love peppermint scents, and this product contains peppermint oil. It's perfect for first thing as it really wakes me up and I love the exfoliation as I feel like it scrubs away the night's grime.

I always moisturise, and at the moment I'm using Superdrug's B. Ready Day Cream. I have mixed feelings about this day cream, as it's a little heavy for my skin, particularly at this time of year. If you know a lightweight cruelty free moisturiser leave a comment below or tweet me @VickiMaitland!

Evening: A few months ago I began using Coconut Oil as a make-up remover and cleanser. It also doubles up as a moisturiser, and I try to let it really soak into my skin by placing a hot cloth over my face for a few moments before wiping it away.

It's the best make-up remover I've ever used as it's super delicate and always manages to pull off all my eye make-up.

Because coconut oil is sometimes accused of clogging pores, I finish off by wiping over my face with Superdrug's Tea Tree Cleanser and Toner on a cotton pad. I really like this product, and it's amazing how much gunk and excess oil comes off my face! Because it's a two-in-one product, it gives me a double cleanse too.

I moisturise before bed too. I recently ran out of my Superdrug B. Nourished Night Serum and I need to pick a new one up. I find it doesn't last me very long, however, so if you've got a recommendation for a great night serum let me know! 

I'm definitely going to re-purchase the two Tea Tree products, but if you have any suggestions for me to switch out my coconut oil (either for a better quality oil or an oil based cleanser) and my moisturiser (I'm still looking for a cruelty free lightweight moisturiser which matches up to my old favourite: Olay Daily Fluid).

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

August Haul and Wrap Up

This past month has been a pretty big one for book buying (and reading). Not only was it the booktubeathon, but I also got a couple of books as graduation gifts. So let's get started!

The Haul

The first books I got this month were gifts from my sister for graduation. 

Wonder by R J Palacio - I've heard some great things about this book, so I'll feed back once I've read it!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman - I've never heard of this book, so I'm excited to pick it up and see what's in store!

Armed with my gift card, I made a little trip into Waterstones and picked up a few books that I've been meaning to for the longest time.

How To Be Both by Ali Smith - I loved There But For The when I read it during my second year of uni and I've been desperate to get my hands on How To Be Both ever since it was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2014. 

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - I heard so many good things about this book (which won the Man Booker 2014) so I had to pick it up.

Bad Feminist, Essays by Roxane Gay - This is another book that I've heard a million and one amazing things about. At the time of writing this, I'm about 8 essays in and so far I'm pretty impressed.

The Age of Earthquakes: a guide to the extreme present by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Hans Ulrich Obrist - Bought on recommendation from Leena, couldn't put it down, review to follow.

My dad also made a Book People order this month and needed some help to get it up to the £25 free shipping limit. I was more than happy to lend a hand.

Maya Angelou Collection (including: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, And Still I Rise, and Gather Together In His Name) - I've always wanted to read some Angelou, so I'm really looking forward to these.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adchie Collection (including: Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun) - I loved Americanah, so when I saw Adichie's back catalogue I had to buy it.

The Bone Season  by Samantha Shannon - When I saw this hardback was only £2.50 I had to pick it up, especially after Reagan  (whose name I am definitely misspelling, sorry!) gushed about it on her channel.

The Wrap-Up

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton - I liked this book but didn't love it, so there probably won't be an indepth review coming. It's about a young girl in Holland who gets married to a much older man. Upon moving in with him and his family she feels out of place, and it soon becomes apparent that the house is full of secrets. The miniaturist who populates the cabinet given to her as a wedding present appears to have an inside knowledge into these secrets. The suspense in the novel didn't really capture me, but I enjoyed it anyway.

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer - I adored this book, and there will definitely be a review on the way soon! To wet your palette, it's told from the point of view of a boy whose brother died when he was a young child. The circumstances of the brother's death are revealed as the story unwinds. It is stunning.

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson - I loved this book too, and have already reviewed it here!

The Age of Earthquakes by Basar, Coupland and Obrist - Mostly pictorial, this book is an examination of modern society. It is expertly put together and I want to review it here soon.

How To Be Both by Ali Smith - Depending on which edition of the book you get depends which way round you read the two interchangeable stories, but I'm really happy with the way round I read it. This is another book I really want to review properly, so I won't say anymore.

Bad Feminist, Essays by Roxane Gay - As I've said, I'm part way through this book and really enjoying it. I've been trying to read one of the ten page (or so) essays each night before bed, but sometimes they get me thinking a little too much!

Wonder by R J Palacio -

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And which book from my haul should I pick up to read next? Let me know by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @VickiMaitland, and remember to look out for my September TBR on Instagram!