So I’ve not been around much. 
It wasn’t a planned thing but it’s just sort of ‘happened’. After having blogged, almost daily, often more than once a day, I’ve only been posting sporadically this past couple of months. In all honesty it’s hard to explain why this has happened, without going in to a lot of other things but, essentially, my health has been rubbish, as has my mental health. 
I’m planning on doing a post about my mental health, soon, and I have a number of other posts that are waiting in the wings. So it’s not that I’m gone, it wasn’t a planned absence, it was just a random time away. I’ll be back as soon as I can. I’m still here. Just… well didn’t want it to go unsaid. 

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It’d be hard for you to have missed the excitement of the Cohorted Beauty box, I expect you’ve already seen lots of posts and know what was in the box. Have you seen any posts about people who got the special boxes though? I knew, when I ordered, that 5 out of the 100 boxes, would contain a very special extra product. Of course I never thought it’d be me…

It’s taken a little while for the box to get here but I was so excited when it arrived that I descended the stairs in my pyjs with a neon pink head band on so that I could see what was inside before I even finished washing my face and getting dressed – My husband and son have named me the Pink Teenage Mutant turtle, now, thank you very much!

It’s been a bit of a trial getting here, though, I have to admit. I’m going to explain what happened, if you’re not interested then scroll down to the next pic and see what I got in the box.

 The team over at Cohorted made a bit of a boo-boo when it came to the release of the box… They released the box, a new website and the weeks product all on the same day. Yes, kaboom. The box was launched at 6pm, I was refreshing from 5:55pm and was very confused when the box never appeared to go on sale, it still said out of stock – I considered that all 100 boxes had sold out during a refresh but that seemed mad considering the site was still live.

After some tweeting and some stressing, and taking the laptop in to the kitchen to I could keep on refreshing whilst preparing food (yes, that’s how much I wanted this box) it Finally showed up as in stock and instantly the site slowed… A number of my friends were unlucky and they reached the payment page but the boxes were out of stock by the time they got there. I was Very lucky, though, and got my box! Of course then there was some delays with the courier but Cohorted were fab, really communicative on twitter and they gave me some extra points on the site to say sorry for the delay.

Anyway… I think you’ve probably had enough of an opener… On to the box.

I’ve heard some mixed thoughts on this box – Some love it, some don’t. Ignoring the added extra that some boxes contain, I was quite happy with what came in my box (The extra item was hidden so I didn’t realise I had it for a while, and even before then I was happy) but I can see why not everyone would  be.

But I’ll let you know my thoughts and you can make up your own ideas based on that. I have already pre-ordered the March box and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in it.

The box is £22.49 (£2.49 of that is postage) so it’s a lot more than normal beauty boxes, but then Cohorted are known for their high end bargains so I think we all had high hopes. The box doesn’t have a rolling subscription, like other sites, so you buy each box one at a time which is good if you don’t want to be tied in to a subscription.

So this is how my box looked when I first got it – Benefit and Bobbi Brown jumped out at me straight away and I was intrigued by the other three products.
And, because I was so interested in seeing what was in the box, in the obvious items that were listed on the card, I genuinely didn’t realise there was something shining beneath the papery worms. I’m posting about this last because it’s the last item I saw, and also I want people to know what’s in the standard box before distracting with the special. But if you’re impatient, and don’t already know what the added item is, then you can just scroll on down and take a sneak peak.
The first item I picked up (and who wouldn’t be intrigued by a huge gold box, haha) was the Dolce & Gabbana ‘Clarifying Lotion’. 

My camera did Not want to focus on the whole box so I’ve taken two shots – The box is just beautiful, it shouts high quality and elegance. I was pleased to see, on the box, that the lotion is alcohol-free, I don’t like using too many products with alcohol in, on my face, as it dries out my skin. 

The box was Heavy, and that would be because the 150ml bottle is huge, it’s a beautiful frosted glass bottle that just screams luxury. The Clarifying lotion is supposed to remove makeup and dead skin; a cleansing and exfoliating product all in one – I have to say I am very interested in seeing how this works. 

In regards to price I’m wondering how available this normally is? I can mostly find it on eBay, Amazon and other sites that are selling in a third party sense rather than directly from any of the bigger stores. It seems to go for anything from £10-£20 but the card that comes with the Cohorted box says that it’s worth £20. Either way, I’m rather intrigued and am going to start using this from this evening.

Next up is a brand that I lust after, that I yearn for… Bobbi Brown is a brand that I love seeing in videos, reading on blog posts, looking at on websites… But do I own any Bobbi Brown? Well, no, even when we had more funds I used to mostly use it on high st items to make it last and now that our funds are much more limited. Well Bobbi Brown has remained a daydream until today! 

This is a 3ml tube of the ‘Smokey Eye Mascara’. The full size of this is 10ml so, considering this is a mini, is rather good. It’s supposed to give dark, long lashes as it builds volume and creates length ‘lash by lash’ I’ve not opened it, to see the brush, as I want to save it as I have a number of lovely mascaras open already so I can save this until I need something new and exciting. Bobbi Brown! (Yes, I know that most beauty addicts might find this more common-place but not me!)
Next up is the first, of two, products by Korres – Korres is a brand that I already love, I’ve tried their body care and I Love their lip balm products so to be able to try some of their skin care is a definite bonus for me. The ‘Milk Proteins Foaming Cleanser’ is a 50ml tube, which is a great size for a beauty box, and is rather intriguing. It’s a cleanser, put simply, but it’s meant to calm dry skin which is definitely something I could do with, and it’s got no parabens, sulfates or phthalates in it and I do like products that are free from nasties. The card that comes with the box lists this as having a £15 value but I’m not sure how that is worked out as a 150ml tube costs £18. Either way it works out as a good value and is a product I’m pleased to have.
The second Korres product is this ‘Quercetin & Oak Eye Primer’ which is rather nice. I’ve not tried any of their cosmetics, other than the lip balm pots, so this is definitely something new for me. From what I can see on the card it seems that this is supposed to be applied to the skin before concealer, to make the concealer last longer, and also to help minimise the appearance of fine lines and darkness – I’ve never even, really, heard of a primer specifically to go under concealer so this, definitely has me interested. I can’t find this, anywhere, in the UK, every shop I find it in seems to be US so I hope this doesn’t become holy grail, as I won’t be able to re-purchase! This is worth £10, according to the card.
Oh yes, I do love getting Benefit in a beauty box, but I’ve never had a full sized Benefit item in a box before! I really like the ‘Ultra Plush’ glosses, I have a mini in ‘Coralista’ and a full sized ‘Rockateur’ so I’m glad it wasn’t one of those in the box. I love the feel of this sheer glosses, they’re so light and soft on the skin, they’re almost moisturising and give a light wash of colour. 
‘Bella Bamba’ is meant to be watermelon scented as well as being a, sheer, watermelon shade – I think this bright, pinky-toned red will be the most pigmented of the Benefit glosses that I have and I think it’ll be beautiful for the warmer months. I’m very happy with this product and it’s worth £14.50 so is definitely a good addition to the box.

At this point, this is what the standard box contains – Two skin care items and three cosmetics, which I quite like the balance of (I’d always prefer more cosmetics) and all with impressive brands. Cohorted have said that this box is worth over £65 though, with the unsureness of a couple of prices, I make the  box as around £50. Obviously I could be wrong in my research and it could, well, be over £65 but even if it’s £50 then I’d be happy, it’s worth over double the cost and the sorts of brands as much more impressive than you expect from cheaper boxes, not to mention the fact that there’s three full sized items, plus two good sized samples.

Oh… yes, you wanted to know what that hidden, extra item was?

Oh alright then!

Oh it’s only the… HOURGLASS ‘Ambient Light’ palette!!! Yup, that’s right!

When I realised there was something brown, with a sheen, hidden at the bottom of my box I missed a breath, I dared to hope but was sure that I was wrong… And then I dug it out and made some rather unusual noises. I held it up to my husband, with my hand shaking. ‘This is a brand that I’ve never expected to be able to own’ I told him whilst just staring at how beautiful, even the box, was.

Sadly I couldn’t get a pic of the box, my camera just said no. I think it’s the, almost ethereal, shade and sheen of the cardboard – It is a rich, dark brown with a bronze/copper sheen and it’s one of the most beautiful outer pieces of packaging that I’ve ever seen.

The same goes for the palette itself, to the naked eye it’s that same dark brown shade but my camera picked up on the bronze/copper sheen instead. But you can still see how beautiful it is, yes? The shape, what it’s made from, everything.

And inside? Mhmm… Three, stunning highlighting powders. The subtle differences between the shades is hard to pick up on camera, but I think you can see. I’ve not swatched them, yet, I’m not feeling brave enough – I’ve never owned anything of such a high value, when it comes to cosmetics. I’m so scared of gouging one with a nail or something. I will play with these, though, and try to get a post up in the future. Needless to say I am over the moon and totally in shock – I’m not one of these people that gets such good luck, very often, so this took me totally by surprise. This palette is worth £56 so… yes. My box was, without a doubt, worth the money, and the time, and the stressing over stock etc.

I’m definitely looking forward to the March box (which I was going to link but, in the past few days, that seems to have sold out too!) – Knowing what the standard box contains I’m interested to see what choices they make for next month. I consider these boxes a Very good investment of some of my blog earnings – I’ve been trying to save what I’ve earned recently but I really wanted to try this box and I think the next box will be well worth discovering too.

I can see why some people weren’t so sure about the box – If the skincare wasn’t to their tastes, if the shade of the gloss wasn’t something that they’d enjoy… But for me, it was all perfect. And, yes, that’s way before I even discovered the palette, I promise.

Thank you, thank you Cohorted!

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Time for some chatter about a book, and a rather good book at that – I had an inkling when I was offered the chance to review it, and I’m glad I was right.

 It’s rather hard to explain, considering how much I enjoyed this book, why it’s taken me longer than I’d have liked to write this post – Books are among my favourite things to review but there’s something about putting the post together, I struggle to get all of those thoughts that live in my head, about these fantastic books, and bring them outside of my head. Yeah, I’m sounding a bit loopy, sorry for that.

I guess, what I mean is, I love reading a book when I know I’m going to review it because it means I pay even more attention and I think about how much other people may like it, as well as how much I do. But externalising those thoughts is harder. That said, this is one of the reasons why I want to review More books, because books are a massive part of my life (how else would I have read more than 25 in less than two months) and I want to share that on here even more, because of that.

I’m digressing, again, aren’t I? Ok… Ok… Deep breath, it’s review time.

I think you’ll be able to get an inkling of what sort of book this is based, entirely, upon the quotes on the cover and on the, additional, sleeve – This isn’t a hearts and puppies, walk in the park (though there is a walk in the park, but it’s not a very nice one), sort of book. Sorry, I know, very unfair of me when it’s valentines, I should be giving you romance but I’m, clearly, a rule breaker and this is what I’ve got to offer. 

‘The Book of You’ by Claire Kendal is a dark thriller. It alternates between telling the story of the main character, Clarissa, and sharing entries from her journal, one that she’s keeping in order to document the harassment that she’s living with from a man called Rafe – A man that she works with, who she shared one night with, after her marriage broke down, a night she hardly remembers due to drink, and a night which she regrets.

From the very outset this book is fantastic – The title works so well, it’s a title that tells you so little but also says so much. And look at the cover, of course you’re driven to the shadow on her face, and the reflection in her eye, both of which are very creepy, but then you notice that her lips are chapped and, I think, that tells a little bit more.

The book is disturbing, I’m not going to mince my words with this, it’s unsettling and it makes your skin crawl. It’s not pleasant, but it’s utterly compelling. It’s not beautiful in plot but it’s beautifully written. You can loose yourself in this book without even realising it; I really did.

You can’t like this book because it’s not very nice, but you can love it because it’s an incredible read – And I’m not using that word flippantly, I thought that it was incredible.

The story? Well it follows Clarissa as she begins jury duty; something which may feel like a burden to some feels like a miracle to her as she’s assigned to a case that promises to be long which means that she can avoid work and, she hopes, avoid Rafe and his unwanted advances. Sadly her hopes are dashed rather quickly and it, soon, becomes clear that he doesn’t plan on leaving her alone at all.

As the story develops you really do feel her unease, you read his behaviours and shudder and you want to stop reading but you can’t and you don’t Really want to stop.

I’ve experienced harassment, stalking and even death threats. I’ve experienced these behaviours from more than one gentleman (I’m being kind by using that word) and in a variety of manners, None of my experiences come close to the chilling story that’s told in this book but it would have been impossible to read it without thinking about those experiences I’ve had – As such, if you’ve had harrowing experiences, and are still coming to terms with them, then maybe put this book back on the shelf until you’re in a better place.

Kendal is, clearly, a very talented author, as well as a talented writer. I use these terms separately as, more and more, I feel like these two things aren’t mutually exclusive. A lot of people have a good story, a lot of people learn how to write… not everyone has both and not everyone can use them in conjunction with each other – Kendal does. The format of the story is really well executed and her style of writing is fantastic for this genre (and I’m sure it would suit others too). The plot is, as I’ve said above, as chilling as it is compelling.

I know I’ve talked about how dark this book is, but if you’re a thriller fan then that’s what you’d be looking for. I highly recommend this book and I will, eagerly, be anticipating future works from Kendal – She shall sit among my, other, favourite thriller writers (One of which is Elizabeth Haynes whose quote is featured on the cover). Very impressed.

You can buy the book for anywhere between £2.99 and £4 (prices current to when this post was written) here from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Book-You-Claire-Kendal/dp/0007531648

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I was sent this book for my consideration for review purposes – All opinions are honest and are my own

It’s Glossybox time! Only this morning I was thinking, I hadn’t seen anything come up on Facebook about dispatch day so was wondering when the boxes were due and, lo and behold, my postie arrived a little while later with that all familiar box sporting the Glossbox logo!

As you’d, probably, expect this month’s box has the theme of ‘Love’ – The box is just so so cute, it’ll be a definite keeper for me. I’m not one for going crazy over things with Love on them but I just love the text and the colours, it’s a real winner of a box design.
This is the item that I was looking forward to, this month. I don’t like the fact that they give a spoiler, for the next month, in each month’s box but I was intrigued by this one and it really had me excited for the box. By Royal Apothic this is the ‘Tinties’ lip balm in the shade ‘Coral’ – I like lip balm, I like lip balm a lot, and I do get a little swayed by packaging so one that comes in packaging like this is likely to make me go ‘oooh’. Though it’s not all about the exterior, with this one, the balm contains shea butter, argan oil, grape seed oil and almond oil which come together to make a moisturising, faintly nutty smelling product which I expect I’m going to love. This is a full size and they are $14. I’d love one of these in a berry shade (hint hint, Glossybox, you could definitely put these in again!)
I thought the little added extra, of a teeny pack of Love Hearts, was quite sweet – I’m not a fan of them,  myself, but as a valentines related item you can’t get much better.
A rather practical item, next, the Wilkinson Sword ‘Hydro Silk’ is something that I expect a lot of people won’t be too thrilled by but, personally, I think it’s quite a cool thing to get in a box. That battle with body hair is one most of us will relate to – Of course, there are many who don’t shave, as their hair removal method of choice, but if you do then this could be really handy and a good money saver. The retail value of this is £9.99 so you’ve covered the cost of the box, with this one item, and got everything else too.
Next up we have a tiny little ‘Lip & Cheek Cream’ palette from So Susan – This isn’t listed, on the GB card, as a full sized item but the card says that full size is 4g and the box for this says it’s 4g soo…. not entirely sure if this is full or sample sized. The full size is worth £8 though.
The four shades are all very different which could make this a fab little addition to a travel makeup bag, especially as you’d need to apply it with your fingers as you’d not get a brush in there, thus taking away the need for a brush too. A gave all of these a couple of swipes to build them up, a bit, but they’re definitely a product that could go on subtly or be built up for a stronger hit of colour. You could make a huge amount of looks with these and their soft, almost matte effect, is rather beautiful.
B.Cosmetics show up in Glossybox boxes quite regularly so it was no big surprise to find an item in there this month. This ‘B. Defined’ eyebrow kit is a useful little item to have in there, and should be something that suits a  lot of people – I got the mine in the ‘dark’ colour set which is right for me, so hopefully others got theirs in whatever colour suits them. 

The little quad contains a creamy highlighter, a brow gel and then a dark brown and a medium cool brown brow powder. The medium shade, on the right, is pretty much the perfect shade for me but the recommendation is to mix the two powders, on the back of your hand, to get the perfect mix.

Again this isn’t listed, on the GB card, as a full sized item but it clearly is and it retails at £9.99. I have a lot of brow products but little palettes like this can be really handy – I may keep this or I may pass it on to my sister who’s begun wearing glasses and discovered the need to do more with her brows, now.

The last item in this box is the Marsk mineral eyeshadow in the shade ‘Fifty Shades’ – Yes, that’s a deliberate name, haha. When I saw a Marsk shadow in the box I was excited and hoped for something that I’d wear a lot so was a little disappointed with this shade – Greys, smoky or not, aren’t something I wear very often. That said… so, So pretty. 
It’s a beautiful slate grey shade with a crazy level of shimmer to it. In the pics above I’ve swiped it on to the skin without blending too much, but when I blended it it transformed, even further, in to something even more beautiful. If someone was in to shimmery smoky eye looks then this shadow would be perfect and, I think, I’ll probably keep it for if I do want to make that look… honestly, beautiful. This tub is 1.2g, which is full sized, and is worth a rather hefty £14.49. 
All in all, a pretty good value box with a nice mix of high end and high st items in it. I do like that Glossybox include high st items, as well as the higher end, because it’s nice to try that out too, and to love something that’s affordable to re-purchase. It’s an impressive amount of full sized items and I do think they’re rather valentines appropriate, you could make most of a look with what’s in the box. Nicely done Glossybox, brought back from being a bit meh for a few months. 

I was rather pleased that my Birchbox came through my door quite early, this month, as all of the beauty boxes have seemed to be getting later and later recently. I’d managed to avoid all spoilers, yay, and couldn’t wait to see what the February box had to offer.

I like my box, I’m not crazy about it, but it’s got some great items in it, and some great brands. If you love the box (or other combinations you’ve seen) then you can sign up with my referral link and you’ll get £5 worth of points to spend in the Birhcbox shop, and I’ll get the same, the link is: http://birchbox.co.uk/?raf=19096 

The theme, this month, is ‘Birchbox Loves’ which is, of course, rather fitting for a February box – I think the design on the cards, for this month, is really cute too which is always a bonus.
First up we have the London Butterflies ‘Whipped body cream’ with ‘Winter Jasmine, Starflower and Sweet Almond Oil’ which come together to make a delightfully light, sweet, floral scent which isn’t at all overpowering. The formula of this really suits the name ‘whipped’ as it’s really light and sinks in to the skin very quickly, leaving it silky smooth. The 30ml sample comes in a heavy, glass jar which screams high quality (and I’m already trying to think of uses for it once it’s used up) and the full size of this costs £37 so it’s a real taste of luxury.
This is the only disappointment in the box, for me, because it’s something I’ve already got two tubes of (not sure if it was from Birchbox or another box company) so I really have no use for it as a little goes a long way. Also, this isn’t really the sort of product I use very much – That said, it is samples of The Balm who are one of my favourite beauty brands so I can’t complain totally. If I’d  not known that some people got a sample of the ‘Cindy-Lou Manizer’ power than I may not have minded so much, haha (yes. that’s right, some of you will get that!)

That said, the ‘Staniac’ lip and cheek tint in ‘Beauty Queen’ is a good example of this type of product and is much more usable than its liquid counterparts – Rather than a thin formula, this is more of a jelly/gel and, so, it applies much more easily. I do like this, product, I just don’t need it and… highlighting power!! But, regardless, it’s nice that you get two vials rather than just the one – Each one of these is 1.2ml and the full size costs £10.

The lifestyle item is one that I’m, actually, really pleased with this month (and you can have a sneak peak at one of my favourite items at the top right too, hehe) – The Vita Coco cold pressed coconut oil is a very useful product. I’ve had a tub of coconut oil before but it wasn’t the raw, organic, cold pressed oil that this one is, and you can really tell the difference, even the smell is worlds apart – The scent of this is coconuts, pure and simple, not a coconut based product which my binned tub was.

Coconut oil is all the rage at the moment – Many use it for beauty and many use it for food/nutrition/health reasons. In fact if you pop over to google you’ll be able to find countless uses for this stuff and I’m looking forward to trying some of them. For now I’ll just enjoy smelling it… mmmmm. There’s not an amount on the jar but it’s a really good size and, depending what you use it for, could last a while.

Definitely never going to complain about getting Liz Earle from a beauty box, I do love Liz Earle products. If I had a choice I wouldn’t pick a shampoo but, regardless, I am definitely interested in trying this out. This is the ‘Botanical Shine Shampoo’ and, as you can see from the picture above, it has some really interesting ingredients in it – This is, definitely, reflected in the beautiful scent which is fruity/citrus with a hint of that shea butter underneath. I may not have gone for a shampoo, but I’m rather looking forward to trying this one out and the 50ml tube will last me quite well (especially if I save it until I get my hair cut… whenever that is). The full size of this is £10.
Alright, alright, my favourite product next! Yes, that’s right, it’s a Cynthia Rowley product! I’ve read/watched so much about Cynthia Rowley that I was so so pleased to get this in my box. It’s a 0.6g pencil, which looks about half the size of a normal eyeliner pencil as long as it sharpens all the way, and even the design on the packaging looks great. I have a lot of black eyeliners… but in this instance I just don’t mind getting another. It glides on smoothly and it doesn’t want to budge once it’s dried, very very impressed. The full size of this is £11. 
The last item in the box is a 10ml sample of the Caudalie ‘Vinoperfect – Radiance Serum’ – It’s not a massive sample but, then, serums tend to go a long way. I am interested to try this out as I really like Caudalie products and have a few other samples that I’ve been saving too. I’m always going to be pleased to find Caudalie in a box, especially if it’s not Divine Oil because I love Divine Oil but have 3 or 4 bottles that I’ve not fully used, yet, haha. The full size of this serum is £45.

I think you can see why I like the box but am not crazy for it – For the most part it’s full of amazing brands, but it’s just that the products from the brands aren’t ones I’d have gone for. There’s a lot of variety in this month’s boxes, though, and I think there’s some even better boxes out there than mine. I Am happy with the box, though, the brands are great, the sample sizes are great and, due to the coconut oil being such a good lifestyle sample, it feels like there’s actually 6 items in the box rather than the standard 4-5.

Again if you love the look of the box, or if you think some of the other options are worth trying for, you can subscribe via my link to get, both you and I, £5 worth of points in the Birchbox shop with my link: http://birchbox.co.uk/?raf=19096

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