Sunday, 1 December 2013

Christmas Gift Guide - Shopping For Women

We all know Christmas is stressful, the second it hits November everyone begins to get in a panic to get in that early Christmas shop for the best deals before everything goes out of stock, Christmas markets become a thing and every store's queue lines stretch further than grandma's tights. 

I personally find shopping for others incredibly stressful and end up leaving it to the last minute. I make it harder for myself by not even bothering asking because then it 'ruins the surprise' so then I have no idea anyway! I tend to shop by what I know about people which of course by Christmas time is nothing at all because you just have no idea. Plus finding something that will come in use is incredibly hard! 

I find women difficult to shop for and have come up with some of my favourite gift ideas and reasons behind them to help you for Christmas!

Christmas gifts for Women/Mum

  • Chocolates and chocolates with alcohol - "It's Christmas, you're more than allowed to get tipsy". Chocolates with alcohol flavours and truffle selections are a personal favourite of mine, they're inexpensive and its pretty typical but nevertheless perfectly acceptable for at least one gift to be edible. Thorntons usually has something exactly what you're looking for! 

  • Perfume - Given a good search around, there's actually a lot of perfume stores which do great deals for Christmas time, 2/3 perfumes for £30? Excellent! Saves spending £40 on a single bottle and gives them a selection to last for a few months. 

  • Make up sets - Guys this may be a little difficult because of not understanding the importance of 'brand' (I don't either, don't worry) but I suggest purchasing new make up brushes or a fancy make up box to help store all the make up that clutters up the bathroom windowsill or where there's no longer room along a dresser. 

  • Jewellery or jewellery stands/boxes - Women love a bit of jewellery, fancy bracelets or simple rings along with the thoughtful locket here and there but if that persons jewellery collection is becoming excessive? A new jewellery stand or box can also be incredibly thoughtful! Amazon does a fantastic variety of jewellery trees and items to place and keep that jewellery safe!

  • Note/diary/address books - If the woman you're shopping for is usually quite well organised then a new organising book for the new year may be a handy and well used gift! You can also personalise these yourself with a friendly note in the back and printed photo for the front!

  • DVD boxset / CD's - I don't know any woman over 30 that would rather download and have music, films and TV shows available on their computer/laptop than have them to hold in their hands and put amongst that bookshelf or CD stand along with the albums and DVD's they've accumulated over the years and love going back to re-watch whenever they fancy. Sometimes what they've already seen and heard can become nostalgic for them and they'll re-watch over and over because its theirs to enjoy. 

  • Canvas - From personal experience, we LOVE redecorating, simply because we get bored of old photos and colour schemes and want to update with new ones! A favourite photo printed onto a medium sized canvas or 2/4 smaller ones may be another perfect idea! Whether its a favourite landscape or family photo, canvas' are a go to for gifts!

  • Kindle - Women who travel a lot or those who find themselves constantly on the move will love a Kindle, being able to take around a 'fit in the bag' item to read the latest novel (or 10) that they want without carrying a heavy book that takes up 3 quarters of their handbag space will be really useful! 

  • Anything you make! - Me personally, I enjoy gifts that have been made handmade and are personal, something like a photo album with memories including quotes and things that happened written beside or underneath that I can look back on would mean 10x more than something overpriced! So maybe something similar will be perfect for the person you're looking for ideas for?

I hope some of these ideas helped for those who have no idea what to get when it comes down to wanting to purchase extra gifts to make Christmas that little bit more special & personal! I'd do a 'Christmas gift guide - shopping for men', but in all honestly I never know what men want! Best just to ask.

Happy shopping!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Manchester Christmas Markets

I've been known to visit Manchester quite often, its a beautiful place that I honestly feel like I can call a home despite not living there. Usually I do my best in avoiding busy towns with people speed walking towards you and having to make your way through a sea full of people, but Manchester is a place I can tolerate quite easily due to the bright and friendly atmosphere.

Fortunately I got to visit again this month and arriving I noticed the Christmas markets, which looked completely fantastic all lit up at 6pm in the now early darkness. I desperately wanted to stay and look around but I was at risk of missing my next train, I was coming back anyway so from how I saw it just walking past? It was beautiful.

I came back the next day, probably a stupid decision during the evening (7pm?) to see it jam packed with people. Obviously a big mistake due to the amount of people starting their nights out and families trying to tire out the kids before taking them home. It was filled with people, so I honestly didn't really get to see much, I was more focused on holding my friends hand to make sure I didn't lose him in the abyss of people and end up getting myself lost in Manchester. (Which would of lead to shouting down the phone from not knowing any street names and having to identify buildings to find each other again, chaos!) So my experience of the Manchester Christmas markets was basically walking past them to just get out of there, I'm quite impatient, so staying would of drove me crazy. 

I recommend, if anyone plans visiting to go during the week and through school/college hours to avoid the stampede of families and students, however an early evening start may be required if planning to try out the food and beer. However it was really nice hearing a lot of live music throughout. The markets certainly make a change from my own, which are a hill of stalls covered by waterproof plastic and a table with items on. (not very 'Christmassy' whatsoever) So to see cabins lit up with bright lights and friendly faces was a pleasant change and I did love the atmosphere. 

I feel very grateful to of experienced Manchester's Christmas markets and hopefully I'll get to visit them again next year with a better idea of when to go!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Kindle Fourth Gen - The Pro's & Con's.

2007 saw the release of the Amazon kindle, a product used to purchase books online and read them via the kindle product, helping those to purchase books quickly for cheaper than average book price, when they wanted them as well as saving space in bags and rooms for when people wanted a series of books to read.

I own a fourth gen Kindle, being able to take a slim line Kindle and put it in my bag rather than a bulk of books to read on many of train journeys has come in handy. It's just as easy as a reading a book and has become a popular device for people of this day and age to own one.

I wanted to do a pro and con of the Kindle, it seems like not many people understand the difference or whether its worth it, I'll be basing this off the 4th gen.

  • Lightweight and easy to carry around, handy for travelling.
  • Gives the option to change text font and size, those who find it a struggle to read small writing will have this as an advantage.
  • Battery life of a month and fully charges in 3 hours using the USB.
  • No glare even when reading in sunlight.
  • Built in Wi-Fi.
  • Bookmarks and annotations option - perfect for students.
  • Percentage mark of how far you've got through the book including next chapter lines.

  • Difficult to read at night due to its screen having no light resembling a book meaning having to purchase the extra LED attachment.
  • 167 Pixels per inch compared to newer Kindle's 212.
  • Adapter sold separately, can only be charged using USB cable.
  • On screen keyboard - particularly a pain when searching for specific books, takes time and patience.
  • Doesn't feel the same as a book, gives you less motivation to read.

It may be just me, but I find it very difficult to read off the kindle some days, I feel I'm forcing myself into reading even the most gripping of books. It doesn't feel the same pressing a button to turn a page and I find myself pressing the previous page button rather than the next getting me lost in my own book. It doesn't have that particular 'new book smell' which every avid reader tends to love. Recently purchasing the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' books, I find myself much more motivated to read the books than I do reading the kindle. But I guess it depends on the person.

I cant deny that my Kindle doesn't help, it's a great product and I would recommend people take a look at other Kindle's that may be a little more expensive than the £70 fourth gen, books can be bought for a little cheaper than they can on hardback, but I personally prefer having the book in my hands being able to place a bookmark inside it before finally placing it against a library of finished books rather than an easily forgotten list. I'm all for the kindle, but I prefer books.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

American Horror Story Coven (Spoilers)

American Horror Story has to be one of the most interesting TV shows to be a fan of, because every season is its own, 12-13 hours for a season to once a week to make a story worth watching. Maintaining a usual gripping season start and finishing it in a way which will please its fans whilst using the same reoccurring actors to portray different people in each season. (SPOILERS)

So American Horror Story season 1 starts off with the murder house, a family move into their new home to try and improve a relationship bring along their daughter Violet who falls for one of her fathers patients and the next door neighbours dead son 'Tate' whom is dead from a SWAT team after killing fifteen high school students and setting fire to his mothers then boyfriend. Violets mother gets pregnant by Tate leaving the house of the dead from previous murders fighting over the unborn child and who gets to keep it.

Season 2 'Asylum' is based in the 1960's inside a mental asylum with incidents happening here there and everywhere; a doctor with an alter-ego trying to find a mother figure or rather the warmth of their skin, a journalist inside the asylum for all the wrong reasons who makes friends with a man being held for murders he didn't commit and a woman committed to Briarcliff for killing her stepmother and father, a nun guilty of running over a child trying to find forgiveness before ending up in the asylum herself, another doctor who experimented on the people inside the asylum for 'the greater good' ending up with people begging to escape or die due to their horrific state after experiments, creating monsters. It was all a bit gruesome and amazing at the same time! But left a few unanswered questions that we'll probably never find out.

Season 3 has been a long wait, and with a killer advertising and marketing team have made fans impatient and needy wanting nothing more than to see the first episode before anyone else laid eyes on it. Every other day, fans subscribed to American Horror Story's fan page on facebook were delighted with new teaser clips. Amazingly using short clips of things to do with the topic of the season rather than clips of what's going to happen throughout the season. Whether it be 3 mouths and a snake sliding through them or a simple 16 second clip of pins sliding out of a body, fans have been going crazy with these small teasers getting us pumped for the Coven season.

(Important - Heavy spoilers up until the last four paragraphs!)

Coven starts with an episode titled 'Bitchcraft' which is an excellent play on words for the seasons starter. Our first glimpse of Coven starts with a bit of history on Delphine LaLaurie set in 1834, I can only presume this seasons story will be based around her history as a serial killer, known for the torture and killing of slaves. LaLaurie, played by popular actress Kathy Bates is seen holding a party for her daughters suitors, however finds one of her them in bed with one of her slaves.

Bates has a fantastic scene where she's using the blood of her slaves on her skin, claiming it makes the skin tighter and keeps her looking young. Delphine beats her daughter and takes the slave to her attic, where she tells her husband how she's always been fond of the Minotaur, a creature from Greek mythology and makes a child slave place a bulls head upon the slave chained up as others surround her.

We then begin in a more modern day with season ones Violet, showing us how witches don't always get the best 'gifts' and abilities, but rather sometimes curses. Actress Taissa Farmiga is shown playing a roll quite like Violet Harmon, a girl moving from one place to another to solve a problem she can't control escorted by the fantastic Frances Conroy who seems to have been given a more fabulous and stylish role in the season, although she doesn't say much at all I'm hoping in future episodes she becomes that fantastic role model to others and gets to show us a more sassy side than her previous roles as the Angel of Death and Moira.

Taissas character (Zoe) walks into 'Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies' where she meets Madison Montgomery who she recognises being an actress, (played by Emma Roberts) Queenie, a smart and tough girl who has no care for the opinions of Madison or any others who try and ridicule her (Gabourey Sidibe), and Nan, a simple minded and quiet girl (portrayed by Jamie Brewer - Season ones Adelaide) all sent to the academy to learn to control their different witch powers.

Cordelia Foxx is the headmistress, (played by Sarah Paulson, Season Ones - Billie Dean Howard and Season Two's - Lana Winters) it seems as if this season she will be another main character. She explains to the four about the schools history and now its a somewhat safe house for young witches to control and learn. She also mentions a story about Misty Day (Lily Rabe) who used her powers of Necromancy in front of others and was burnt alive however is reported on the news as 'missing'. The witch bloodline means that some people chose not to reproduce, making the academys population dwindle over the years to just the four girls.

We're then introduced to Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange). Avoiding too many spoilers, goode is looking for a way to stay young and is funding a scientist on a project to help her do so, using the testing on a monkey. Fiona claims "I'll have what she's having" which doesn't necessarily go to plan before she turns up at the Academy, interrupting her daughter Cordelia and tells her how she will be staying at the Academy to 'teach' the girls.

Zoe is taken to a frat party by Madison, where she meets Kyle (Evan Peters) in a somewhat Romeo and Juliet style scene, seeing each other through an ice sculpture and they start talking but due to her black widow status, tells them it wont work out, Kyle helps Zoe find Madison who has gone missing to find her with drugged by his frat brothers. An angry Kyle chases after them and tells them to delete the videos from off their phone before getting knocked out and the bus leaves. A horrified Zoe looks on and Madison walks beside her using her telekinesis to flip the bus, killing all but two of those inside. 

The next day Fiona takes the girls to the historical and now tour of LaLauries house. We see a flashback of how Delphine died, how Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) gives her a 'love' potion, Delphine wakes later and walks outside to see her family hung from her mansion and Marie and the slaves stood before her, Marie is the slave with the Minotaur heads lover and punishes Delphine with the gift of life, before putting her underground wrapped in chains.

Zoe goes to the hospital to find out which of the frat boys are still alive, hoping its Kyle, only to find out its one of the main frat boys who drugged Madison, to get her revenge she uses her power to kill him. Nan tells Fiona she can sense Delphine in the garden under the stone. Later that night Fiona returns using her powers gets two men to dig up the box with Delphine inside opening it to find her very much alive still.

I have high hopes for this season, when hearing what it was going to be about I wasn't sure it was going to be any good at all, but I already think it might be the best season yet. Its very rare for me to find something to love about every character introduced and so far I love them all. Each character has their own individual personality that you get to enjoy and yet they're all so different with so many different backgrounds. Plus! After reading many of interviews with the writers and directors of American Horror Story, I found out that everyone who's part of the season had really researched about everything in the season, from voodoo to the history of Delphine and witches, it's truly going to be an incredibly thought out season full of simple things that are more true than we believe.

Not to mention the dynamics of the camera work is more incredible than ever, some TV shows really lack good shots, using close ups of people at the wrong times and being afraid to shoot from above or below eye line, American Horror Story really pushes themselves with set filming straight away. It must be an odd thing truly appreciating camera work, but American Horror Story deserves that pointed out. My favourite so far has been the angles used filming the first shots of the Academy, so plain and empty yet clean and white, which makes a change from the dark sets of the murder house and asylum, yet again the brighter sets are going to really switch up this season visually.

The one thing I am worried about for this season is their re-use of characters. I still find it difficult to separate Zoe from Violet as their characters are quite similar and I can see myself doing so with Nan too, hopefully as the season goes on and their characters start to develop and learn they will change making me not forget their previous characters, but remember that this is an entirely different season. Its a very difficult challenge getting a popular couple from the first season to re-connect as strangers for the third season, credit to the writers because they really do challenge themselves and fans expect a lot from them to make it so different compared to before. I can't wait for what the rest of this season has to offer as well as the introduction of many more incredible actors and actresses.

Coven is looking good and to those who are fans of the previous AHS seasons, I would definitely recommend keeping up to date with the Coven season, its going to be challenging and eventful, I'm looking forward to where the season goes and hopefully there's no stone unturned by the Finale.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Inside HBO's Game Of Thrones Book

Sometimes things I adore will leave me wanting to write pages about whatever it is I'm currently fond of, which actually then leads to me being unable to describe something so awesome. 
This is what this book is doing to me right now and I love it.

To start this, I didn't realise that this book actually was released in September 2012, I'd never heard of this book or seen it until yesterday when randomly coming across it in a store and I bought it. It cost me £10 and I will tell you it is without a single doubt in my mind, worth every penny (I'm not even half way in!). 

Although I'm not even halfway through this book, I can tell you from a fan to a fan (presuming so otherwise you probably wouldn't be interested in reading this post) that this has been my most favourite 'extra' book purchase. I've bought books that go alongside a book series or ones that explain the making of movies, music videos and autobiography's and this is easily my favourite purchase ever which I highly recommend...No, I DEMAND you read! 

Everything I've been curious about, the behind the scenes and the opinions from the actual actors as well as designs and thoughts that went into everything to make the TV series is in this book and I love it, the book comes with photo upon photo of high quality images of sets, drawings, sketch designs, planning as well as photo's from the show and each house name family tree, which make the book all the more desirable reading words on parchment like background rather than your standard 'Black on white' book, even the cover is amazingly detailed and has a soft sponge-like cover.

A short example of why I love this book so much that The Wall in Westeros is one of the most incredible bits of scenery and so beautiful, I've always wondered how it was made to look so, where they found it and what went in to making The Wall, to find out The Wall is actually an old limestone quarry about 20 miles north of Belfast, how the lift to the top of the Wall was actually constructed and made by the construction team and how with the help of special effects used on the quarry's texture gave it that ice and snow look and comes complete with a photo showing the construction site lift being built!

Plus the fact Bryan Cogman (the executive story editor who had written two of the shows episodes at the time) is the writer of the book, with a preface from George R. R. Martin, the writer of 'A Song Of Ice and Fire' and forwarded by authors and executive producers David Benioff & D. B. Weiss makes this book even better, it's from people who really know, have access to the thoughts and truth behind everything that was made possible for us the viewers and readers. What better than the words of the people who saw everything come to life.

This book is 192 pages long, and I'm so glad I found it. Its incredible and a dream for fans as adoring of the books and show such as myself. I hope they do more of these books for the next set of seasons that come out, more nerding out over a fantasy based book brought to life and is any Game Of Thrones fans dream to know more about the creation of everything that happens. 


Monday, 21 October 2013

Musician Recommendation - Sam Martin

It's not often I'd spontaneously write about a musician that I enjoyed simply because of how lovely they are in person, it would be biased if they was a friend so I tend to avoid things like this. However Sam Martin is more of an associate of mine and someone who's voice I instantaneously fell in love with.

I'd first heard Sam perform when he was in college, after going to support my best friend at 'The Venew' in Leamington I ended up staying after his bands performance to hear the rest of his friends from college perform. (It's polite!)

Although I don't remember much about this first gig because it was so long ago, I do remember the entire crowd was silent throughout Sams solo performance. He has such a captivating voice and I adored it instantly. Although his set was only short and I didn't get to speak to him (Clearly too popular!) I remember really appreciating his voice that night, it truly was unique.

It was back in May 2013 when I actually spoke to Sam, I bumped into him at LAMP in Leamington where two of my friends were performing that evening (It was my best friends first time performing a vocal piece and one of my favourite songs, he did amazing!) but I wasn't aware Sam was also, he performed his own music off his first EP - 'Waters' and once again complete silence from a one of a kind voice. 

My favourite part about Sams performance that evening? Was an incredible cover of a musician I thought no one else had heard of, Matt Corby. Matt Corbys voice can be both very soothing and powerful, with notes that many couldn't imagine reaching or even attempting, Sam however did it incredibly and with justice, good Corby covers are a rare find. It was truly spectacular.

I unfortunately know very little about Sam, but I'm aware he's dedicated to his music, and will clearly go very far if music is the path he chooses to take for his future career. Hopefully, being friends of friends I'll get to bump into him now and then when he isn't performing and appreciate the same kindness he showed me at gigs outside of them.

When speaking to him telling him I enjoyed his music and wanted to hear more, he gave potentially the sweetest and most genuinely thankful reply I'd ever heard and it amazed me, he's truly a gentleman and so polite to everyone he connects with, whether through social media or face to face. I've met musicians who know they're good and brush off compliments with a simple "Thanks!" yet I don't believe he appreciates himself as a musician quite yet, unaware of the impact his music may of had or will have on others. He truly appreciates the people who take the time out of their day to tell him and it's clear it means a lot to him. I feel like the best thing I could do is recommend his music to anyone who reads this!

Sam Martin - 'The Light Home':

I'd love to be able to describe his voice, but it ranges from acoustic to blues and I simply can't find a way to describe it in a way that would show his vocal ability. All I can recommend is to find out where he's performing next and to go see him perform live. A genuinely lovely guy who's so talented and is happy to be able to perform to people. I'm looking forward to hearing an album! 

If I could do one thing for him it would be to introduce others to his music, so it would be awesome if you could give his stuff a listen and keep up to date with him on his facebook fan page!

Sam Martin's Website - Click Here
Sam Martin's Youtube - Click here
Sam Martin's Facebook - Click here
Sam Martin's Soundcloud - Click here

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Aussie - Hair Products

Aussie is and has been my favourite product for about 2/3 months now.

About 3 months back I was living at my friends house and I'd ran out of my own shampoo and conditioner and used hers and oh man, my hair felt so good afterwards!

She owned 'Aussie' (specifically Miracle Moist) which is a product produced in the UK using Australian ingredients. I'd never heard of it before, but it said 'Shampoo' on it so therefore; it was going on my hair. 

My own hair is very fine and has been dyed a fair few times,. I cut it myself but rarely as I've been trying to grow it past collarbone length for years, I rarely straighten it and try let it dry naturally, only using heat on it when I curl it. My hair used to be left feeling dry and I would molt a lot even after deep conditioning my hair for hours.

Thus, I'm always looking for hair products that will keep me from having dry hair with split ends without me having to keep cutting it preventing me from having long hair like I used to many years ago.

This shampoo is my favourite product because it does exactly what I need, it keeps my hair looking and feeling healthy, makes it soft and gives it a small amount of volume preventing that dry feeling from using the conditioner on the ends of my hair, giving it a better chance to grow.

My hair is currently at the longest stage in the best condition it's been in years, simply down to using Aussie. I'm one for things that smell good too, and this product has such a divine almost bubblegum like smell that will leave you throwing your hair in peoples faces to make them smell how nice it is. (I really did this)

Aussie has a variety of different collections suited for all kinds of hair. For frizz, coloured hair, moisturising, volume, long hair, shine, plus more. Including not just shampoo and conditioner, but leave in creams, sprays, mousse, treatments and hairspray. 

Shampoo and conditioners come in 300ml bottles (unless you're buying the small 75ml travel ones!) and cost around £4.50 per bottle, this may seem a little more expensive compared to well known hair products recommended by hair salons such as Tresemme, Head & Shoulders or L'Oreal however I would pay the extra every time due to having to use so little of the product, lasting much longer than any other product I have owned.

I highly recommend investing in Aussie hair products - 5/5

Monday, 14 October 2013

Rimmel - Light Porcelain Match Perfection Liquid Foundation

As you may know from my previous post I purchased Maybelline's matte mousse foundation, alongside this I also bought Rimmel's Light Porcelain (010) match perfection liquid foundation. I thought I'd post about this separately (different brand and all) 

This was a last minute purchase alongside the mousse and out of the mousse and liquid foundation, this is easily my favourite of the two. The foundation matches my skin tone slightly better than the mousse as it's lighter than Maybellines Light Porcelain products but is still dark on my skin (yes, I'm that pale still) so yet again, for me the colour didn't match entirely but was lighter than the mousse.

However its really easily applied and blends well against the skin giving off a bright glow. the product isn't watery nor is it thick and again 'cakey' on the skin, in fact it was really light and smooth. The liquid comes out quite quickly which is always a little risky when it comes down to getting the foundation out when you only need a small amount applied. My favourite part about this foundation is that it has a pleasant scent to it. It covered a few blemishes and the product costs £6.99 which is a decent price for a liquid foundation. I'm no make-up pro, but I would give this foundation a 5/5. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Maybelline - Dream Matte Mousse (Light Porcelain) & Cover Stick (Ivory)

I'm someone who I guess you could say 'avoids' make-up. 
Reasons being:

  • My hands are shakey on a permanent basis resulting in poking myself in the eyes with everything I've ever owned. 
  • Not finding something which actually suits me and doesn't make me look like I'm going for the 'retro gothic smudge' look.
  • Being too lazy to put on make up every day when I could just say "This is my face accept it please and thankyou"

The other week I got a face ick which I got so frustrated with, I was going away and it just wasn't leaving, so I was desperate to cover it and look somewhat acceptable for when travelling to visit a friend. (Although he was very lovely and said my face ick didn't matter, the sweetheart!)

THUS, resulting in me purchasing Maybelline's (01) Ivory Cover stick for £4.09

The second I got home I tried to conceal my face ick. This was the lightest tone they had and I'm not someone who tests loads of products before I buy them, although I probably should? I thought Ivory would be fine considering its the lightest of Maybelline's cover sticks (If I'm correct there's 3, Ivory, Nude and Vanilla) but yet, being pale it turned out a little more Tan than I had expected despite looking my skin colour. 

The product actually felt slightly greasy when applied and I felt rather than blending or rather doing its job and concealing? It was just an extra layer on top and made me feel like I was shouting "Hey look at how noticeable this is!". Resulting in me wiping it off about 5 minutes after because it just wouldn't do and it felt tacky on my skin. 2/5

The day after, I bailed on trying to find concealer products and just looked for anything that vaguely matched my skin tone. Of course, there was no samplers to try see to match with the products this time, so I was judging by colour and name of the colour/product of what I could see in front of me. I ended up picking up 

Maybellines dream matte mousse (004) Light Porcelain foundation for £7.69 which is again the lightest of Maybellines mousse foundation products.
I really liked the mousse foundation, it literally does feel like mousse and has a really soft texture to blend into your skin nicely without having that greasy afterwards feel and doesn't leave you feeling like any heat your skin comes into contact with will melt the make-up off your face. It's not 'cakey' and thick but really light and fluffy and although this again is too dark for my skin and makes me look like I've got a tan on one area of my face, overall the mousse is definitely a product I would recommend to others that are looking for a good foundation who find they have similar skin tones to the product. 5/5

You can just about see on the photo to the left the difference between both, I used my arm to try show the difference. The left is the mousse foundation which blended into my skin much better than the cover stick on the right does and doesn't look as thick and obvious being there. 

Maybe one day I'll produce my own make-up line and call it 'Ghost Tan' for us chicks (Or/and guys) whos skin tone gets described as 'milk bottle' or 'new white bed sheets' so I mean, look out for that in the upcoming future or probably never because I hardly wear makeup anyway! But until then, I would definitely sway from Maybelline's cover stick and spend the extra on the mousse. Worth it.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Short chapter about 'Me' - by a friend

As it's the start of a new month and I just turned 19, I've been super distracted & busy so haven't been able to review much, I decided to put this amongst my reviews as a slight change.

  • I've always been curious as to how others see me, how they'd describe me if I was a character in a book and what they'd write about me. I asked a friend of mine (see right) who is excellent with words and knows me quite well if she would describe me like I was in a book, she wrote an almost 'chapter' of herself describing me as if I was a stranger on a train that she'd never met before. I liked it so much that I thought I'd share it. Enjoy!

I clasped my fingers tighter around my coffee cup as I stared blankly out of the window. It was raining again. The landscape was a mass of sleeping emerald as it rolled by, distorted by the silver streaks that clung to glass.  In my head I gave them voices, personalities, little stowaways trying to climb aboard the train to escape the rain, “save me” the called in their high pitched voices as the rapid breeze sent them flying off into the distance. It had been a long journey. I half laughed, half disapproved of myself as I reclined my head against the seat closing my eyes. This part of the journey was always the worst. Coming home. Outside the landscape was changing, the horizon became more jagged, more original, but they were only hills. The garish strip lights in the aisle flickered overhead, briefly adding some excitement into the otherwise pointless reflection. 

The train was always so quiet on this route, no screaming children, or arsehole businessmen…but no-one to talk to all the same. It wasn't until the ticket collector came huffing down the aisle to alert us a stop was coming up -coughing and spluttering as he passed – that I realised I wasn't completely alone in the carriage. An old lady slept with her head half leant against the glass opposite, half away somewhere in dream. Another, a young Asian guy, sat with his feet on the seat opposite, absent mindedly scrolling across his phone to catch a glimpse of the world outside – whilst he sat inside, dressed for snow in September. 

Aside from that there was me, and girl sat opposite headphones thrust far into her mind – apparently sat blocking out the world as she stared into the distance. She looked friendly enough. Although sat defensively, her pale speckled arms wrapped loosely around her own waist, there was something in the feint rosy hue in her cheeks that made her seem open to the world. A closed door perhaps, but it most definitely wasn’t locked. There was something blissfully childlike about her almost full cheeks, how – even at rest – they looked like they were waiting to be awoken, as if to awake excitedly from their slumber and run away from her face altogether. The image made me laugh once more as it replayed twice over in my head. I had to stop doing that, an internal monologue was one thing, but laughing at my own madness in public another.  It must have been loud enough as her eyes caught mine and she quickly turned away, locking the door as she tightened her arms around her waist. I wanted to jump up and apologise, but frankly I’d embarrassed myself enough for at least this leg of the journey.

 I dug my damp shoes deep under the table as I turned away, and returned to staring out of the window. It was only then that I realised my feet were aching, they had rubbed with the dampness. There’s a reason why vans were produced in America, if they had known English weather, they’d never even have bothered with the shipment. ‘I’d need to have them cleaned as soon as I reach home’ I thought as I gazed at the girl’s reflection in the glass, she was chewing faintly on her lower lip as if annoyed. For the second time that day I felt bad. I replayed the brief exchange of her wide chestnut brown eyes against mine again in my head. I chewed my bottom lip, as if the glass wall in which I watched her was in fact a mirror. The train began to stop, we were approaching a station.

Secretly I hoped it wasn't our stop…my stop. No, our stop, I decided right there that I would have to make it up to this random stranger that I had just openly laughed at for no apparent reason. This silent, serene stranger, who seemed to have the sight of galaxies in the far distance, for her line of vision seemed endless. As the station crawled into view, amidst of thick grey haze and condensation, she showed no signs of movement. She wriggled slightly, lighting up the screen of her well-loved Walkman to check the time briefly before returning to her reverie. We were a minute behind schedule according to the platform timetable, its lights blurred overhead, but otherwise on time. I could tell she loved that Walkman though, there was something in the way that she held it in her tiny slender hands, as if it were a precious metal, subconsciously caressing all the tiny battle scars it held. Then she smiled to herself. A subtle, half smile, the kind that would have gone unnoticed had a crazed stranger… sat opposite another unaware… stranger – the kind that would have gone unnoticed had the right eyes not been looking. The track must have changed, for her tightly closed lips betrayed her as they traced the lines of words they’d obviously sang a hundred times before. The train rumbled into motion again. I leaned back into my seat sheepishly when I realised that I’d been leaning forward, for no apparent reason again. Then she caught my reflection in her window, as I stared at her in mine, and we both smiled. I felt forgiven. And slightly awkward if I’m perfectly honest. But forgiven all the same. I turned to face forward feeling brave and then I decided to speak, not that I knew what I’d say, but I’d soon find out.

“Typical weather right?” I said, gesturing a little too animatedly as I held my hands up to a sky that wasn't exactly reachable indoors. She must have caught sight of me in the window as she turned round and took a headphone out of her ear. Of course she couldn't hear me, in the outside world, that was the point of headphones. I was such a dick. Her face opened up as she replied. “Sorry, were you talking to me?” she smiled politely, a hint of dubiousness in her voice. I smiled again, “the weather”, I repeated as if it wasn't stupid enough the first time, so this time I pointed out of the window this time to clarify that I was in fact, quite stupid. She smiled and nodded as she turned away, briefly, and then she turned back clearly debating whether to talk. She took the headphone from her other ear. “I like your accent” she said to me, her voice bright, British, she was clearly returning home; but not to the Midlands, further South perhaps. “Thankyou,” I replied, sounding perhaps more Scottish than my land of birth had intended, “Do you take this route often?” I replied, not really understanding it’s’ relevance but equally not willing to end the conversation either. “Not really” she replied, a hint of uncertainty in her voice – probably due to fact that the strange guy, sat in dirtied shoes with 3 days sleep missing from his face, was sparking up a random conversation with her. No, not me… A new passenger two rows forward tried to butt in, two rows further and maybe you’d not have been able to smell him, two miles back towards Edinburgh and you might not for sure. “Any idea what time we’re due at the next stop love?” he slurred in his thick northern accent. She shook her head nervously, but still smiling, and seemed to have forgotten about our conversation altogether. 

The drunk man carried on talking to her regardless, I could see that it didn’t faze her, but I decided to get up and walk over to her anyway. I sat down in the seat opposite her, gripping a cup of coffee that was no longer warm. Her hair which flicked out at her shoulders was a coppery brown, with the same undertones as her eyes, and from this distance I could see the small spiked metal stud protruding from her lip. It was if, by a freak accident, a streak of lightning had hit the metal and shocked her hair spiky, warmed a boring walnut into a fiery chestnut brown. She would make a fabulous cartoon character. I could have sat and drawn her right there and then; her animated features and her rounded face – yet to be coloured by an artist’s pencil, save a few feint freckles that danced here and there -, her warm smile that never stretched too far across her face, inoffensive, closed, and yet open simultaneously. “What are you listening to?” was all I managed to reignite the conversation. She didn't seem to mind, in fact she looked relieved now that the drunk had redirected his attention towards the young Asian lad who appeared highly bemused. “Ed Sheeran” she said quietly, although something in the way she said it made me think she had a lot of respect for the things she held dear. He must have been another ‘Walkman’ case I thought. “Which track?” I asked, out of genuine interest. After all, being from where I'm from, any pale ginger guy with a guitar was practically a relative. Even though I was over six foot, slim and dark haired, family was family. “You Need Me” she replied, knowing she need not say any more from fan to fan. Then I decided to rap as one can only do that song. I’m not sure why. I’m not even 100% sure I sang along to the right words, or if I knew the right words as I blurted them out into the sombre silence of the carriage. But she laughed anyway.

“Where are you from?” was all she could manage between laughter as the others in the carriage stared at me wide eyed and, thankfully, speechless. “I've just come back from Edinburgh” I replied, sinking slightly into my seat slightly as the burn of a thousand glares of disbelief burned into my seat, “I take it you’re not from Manchester then?” I added as I sipped my luke-warm coffee. “I'm from Warwickshire” she replied “it’s not far from Birmingham I guess” she added, answering my less than subtle confused expression. “Ah, I'm at the Uni down in Warwick, well I’m going to be”. Her face lit up when I said this, as if I were an alien who had just grasped the English language. “The Uni's right near me” she said, looking out the window and then at me, hoping I had not taken that quite literally, “Are you getting off at Coventry?” she added. I nodded. I wasn’t aware that anyone even knew where that was. “Same” she added, as she placed a headphone back in her ear. Her small, elf like ears concealed under her loose flowing hair that just brushed the shoulders of her black and red t-shirt. Supernatural. I remember the print on it, although I didn't recognise it at the time, I had to ask. It was the print I was interested in, I promise. When I saw her rubbing her arms, white as the snow that lay heavily on top of the clouds, I took off my zip up jacket. She refused, but I refused to accept, the texture of the goosebumps across her thin arms could have been mistaken for a mountain range. But then again, it was cold. The glass had began to fog by that point, trapping us inside that obscure little carriage. But we talked as if we were running free across the fields outside, even as they heaved under the weight of the heavy rainfall. We spoke until the train rolled into the dingy platform that read “Coventry”.

I loved new friends. A new friend. Kirstie. With an IE. Fan of cats – but not cat hair -, Ed Sheeran, and accents. A fan of my accent, my love of city and colour (who apparently also exists in the North) and my festival bracelets. Kirstie. Saviour of my first endless journey to the Midlands before I started Uni, a near train-riot starter, and person who I once offended with my awkward misplaced humour. Kirstie, see, her chestnut hair and Supernatural T-shirt, I didn't recognise the print either. In the background you can see the old lady, the Asian kid got off two stops before me, (we never did see if the old woman woke up and found her stop), ignore my gay hair. It was raining, not indoors but it still counts. We took this picture somewhere outside Birmingham, I think, we both agreed on that anyway. The shitty brick houses were a give away sign. Look, in the bottom right hand corner, you can just see the top of the Walkman I mentioned. My coffee, which I never did finish. Yeah. Kirstie, McArthur, my latest train friend. My first friend from the Midlands. She’s on my friends list actually, yeah, you should add her. “Kirstie.” I smile to myself as I tuck my iPhone back into my jeans pocket, the photographic reminder of that strange meeting fading to black as it slips further into the denim darkness.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Dexter Season 8 Finale.

After 8 long seasons Dexter has finally finished. It's been a bumpy journey with season highs and season lows, some having people wanting more and sending imaginations wild whilst other leaving viewers thinking "well, that season was a bit awful wasn't it?" (Spoilers)
This season has been one of Dexter's better seasons for me, but not its best. I found the return of Hannah McKay really annoying, after not being able to get rid of his dark passenger when around her in the previous season that she was in, it seemed ridiculous to me that McKay suddenly stopped him wanting to be that person any more. 

The season finale showed after deb getting shot, her going into hospital with Quinn, having an emotional talk about how she's done bad things and would have to save "a bus full of nuns" to make up for it, for him to reassure her that she's a good person. After this we see Harrison and Dexter looking for McKay at the airport, who has hid in the bathroom due to Elway looking for her, to help her escape, Dexter plants a bag and tells airport staff he just saw Elway walk away from it suspiciously, thus making people leave the airport. (Do airport security not have camera's?) but also delaying their own flight.

Dexter tells Hannah to get on the bus with Harrison, catch the flight to Argentina and he'll meet them out there after finding out Saxon has hurt Deb he wants nothing more than a final kill. (FINALLY) Seeing a blood covered Saxon walking towards Debs room (who just before had cut out the tongue of the man that stitched up his arm as a distraction to get into the hospital) Dexter grabs a hospital fork as a weapon and walks towards Saxon before he is caught by Lt. Batista holding a gun to his head, arresting him and taking him off. Dexter walks into Debs room to find it empty. 

Debs condition has worsened as he finds out from Quinn and going to her room they found out she suffered a blood clot, meaning that she will no longer be able to do anything but breathe on her own. This, hurting Dexter seeing his sister that's life has been ruined by him goes to the cell in which Saxon is staying and provokes him to stab Dexter with a pen knowing there's a camera in the room. After Saxon stabs him, he pulls the pen out and stabs Saxon in the neck, killing him before pressing the emergency button and quivering because Saxon tried to kill him. Batista and Quinn interview Dexter as to why he went into the room. Dexter says because of the state Deb was in he wanted to make sure everything was done properly. Quinn says "I only wish I could of done it myself" after Batista agree's he killed Saxon in self defence. 

I did enjoy the scene where Saxon got caught, I really wanted to see him get shot but I hated that Deb was suffering in a vegetated state. I wanted her to get better and to cuddle Harrison and to give her many Fucks and Shits at the fact Saxon came back. 

But this part annoyed me, the way Dexter was on security camera yet no one came to the room when he was stabbed until he pressed a button? Plus the footage of him reaching over to stab Saxon, watching him fall to the floor and standing there in glory over seeing him dead for everything he's done, he slowly pushes the button in a completely straight posture before he quivers in fear. That was frustrating, surely they should force someone into being in the room with someone who's been filmed enjoying murdering a bunch of people, left a mental hospital and had just tried to kill again. I would expect full security.

Then the scene in which Hannah and Harrison are on the bus ready to catch a flight before revealing Elway is sat next to them and that he's getting off on their stop, taking Hannah with him and giving Harrison across to child protection services. Hannah near a stop takes out a flask and offers Elway tea, to which he looks at her as if to say he's stupid. She's hiding one of Dexter's needles behind this small flask cup and stabs Elway in the leg, telling him he's going to sleep for around 8 hours. Hannah wakes Harrison and flees the bus.

But seriously? No one else on the bus overheard Hannah saying she just gave him a shot of tranquillizer and that he's going to be unconscious? Or the fact that Elway was about to arrest her? Plus the fact no one saw this huge needle including Elway that was hidden behind a flask? Not suspicious at all. 

Dexter takes his boat to the hospital which is evacuating getting ready for the storm, dressed in his green shirt and gloves, he visits Deb and rings Harrison, telling him he loves him and to remember that every day until he next sees him. He takes Deb off the life support, not shedding a tear and takes her out the hospital, once outside, he lifts Debra's body through a crowd of people with nothing but a sheet over her and takes her to his boat placing her along the seat and drives off.

By now I was exhausted with the gaps and getaways Dexter was publicly making. I know there was an evacuation going on? But did him switching off everything that was helping Deb live not alert one member of staff? Not one person saw him wheel out a woman fully covered with a sheet over her head, pick up this body and walk off? No one saw or was alarmed/alerted? WHAT?

Dexter drives off into the sea picking Deb up and dumps her body in the sea. I thought this was the most awful part about it, despite loving the ocean, this is the place he comes to dumb bodies that he considers bad people, I was actually expecting and sort of hoping Dexter would jump into the sea holding Deb, die with her in his arms. But he dumps her and drives into the eye of Hurricane Laura. We then see Hannah and Harrison, Hannah finds out about Dexter not coming by seeing online that the remains of his boat were found, but he was gone, concluding that he had been killed, walking off hand in hand with Harrison to get ice cream. 

The series ends with a bearded Dexter getting out of a truck carrying lumber, he then walks into a building sits and stares directly into the Camera, so us the viewer. Now alone, protecting the people he loves from himself.

This was the most annoying ending possible for me, there was things that could of turned out much better and the fact that Dexter drives his boat into the eye of hurricane Laura (Notice the name of his mother?) and manages to somehow survive? Debra dying in the most horrible way possible. No final views from Quinn after Debs body disappearing, or Batista? No finding out about LaGuerta? Or any other kills? No views from Jamie about who took Harrison and was looking after him? Plus the fact Vince Masuka and his daughters storyline seemed a bit pointless and didn't feel like it progressed much at all. 

The one thing that made this season finale even slightly watchable for me, was the flashback of Deb and Dexter seeing Harrison for the first time. Discussing how they was a dad or an aunt, and Debra telling Dexter how he could look after Harrison easily, because he looked after her, staying with her as a child when the lights went off and she thought there was monsters in the room. I enjoyed that the final episode was named after this scene 'Remember the Monsters?'

Overall a poor season ending. I wish it would of been different and Dexter has certainly had better days. Although a really good show when it wants to be, I was thoroughly disappointed.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Grand Theft Auto 5

As a kid I was a huge fan of GTA Vice City and San Andreas. I played countless hours on those games as a kid. Since its PS2 days I haven't played any other GTA game so this overall review is jumping everything in between. (Spoilers)

The general advertisement for this game was incredible, I haven't heard so much about a new game coming out since Black Ops. I'm not someone who buys a lot of games, but I knew so many people who were pre ordering and despite not seeing any previews I got it the day of its release, 17th September 2013.

I must admit, I'm one of those people who is such a fidget during games, it takes a lot for me to sit still for countless hours fixated on one thing, however this game had me staring at my screen for around 32 hours to complete it. I also must admit my first mission fail wasn't even 20 seconds into playing, I wanted to find out the buttons straight away, I hate tutorials I just like reminders, so pointing a gun at a hostage before shooting him in the head was possibly the funniest "Oh" when playing a game I've had in a long while.

The game is based around the beginning tutorial level, focusing on the plot line of a heist that went wrong when character Trevor escaped leaving his partners Brad and Michael who had been shot. We then see it forwarded 10 years to character Franklin, who works as a repo man with his friend Lamar. Franklin meets Michael (living with a new identity, his wife and two kids) by repossessing his sons car and smashing it into the dealership they end up friends after 'sorting it out'. After Michael catches his wife in bed with someone, out of anger he pulls down the house of a Mexican drug lord and has to find the money to pay for its rebuild with the help of Franklin.

Michael and Franklin take on their first heist together, Trevor (believing Michael to be dead and Brad in prison) hear's about the heist and knows its Michael, and sets off to find his friend who he grieved for believing him to be dead for the past 10 years and after finding him is without a doubt, a little bit pissed off at him. (Naturally) Before they end up pulling off a few heists together themselves. 

The game in general took me a while to get into in terms of its controls, playing it on the xbox I found it difficult getting a grasp of the different controls depending on whereabouts whichever character you was playing was, whether driving, in combat or flying. Flying was the worst for me, especially when after a mission it required you to land a plane in a certain spot and if you was right next to it you had to fly off and do it all over again which got me heavily frustrated at times!

I loved that the characters had a phone each, being able to be updated with what new weapons you'd unlocked was really helpful, plus the storyline was always ongoing in between missions when people would ring you mid drive or text and you'd get to reply. I also enjoyed the fact the characters were able to take selfies. The general change in characters was really good too, you'd switch between characters if they were a fair distance away from each other by zooming out overlooking the map and zooming back into the next characters location where a cinematic clip would potentially play just before you got to move about which I really enjoyed.

Faults? Although I liked the large map, there was so many roads which didn't always make it easy getting around places quickly. A 20 minute drive from the bottom of the map to the top seemed a bit ridiculous and I couldn't do it considering mission areas were in such different places so I ended up getting a cab pretty much everywhere unless it was part of a heist or it was a short journey. Also I'm a pretty crappy driver, ended up flying through my car window and doing accidental stunt flips on more than one occasion. I get a temper when I crash into other cars from reckless driving in games, this was a major pain in the arse for me. Although I loved being able to get a taxi because if I didn't mind the wait I could go make a cup of tea on a taxi journey time. Excellent!

The game features one scene or rather mission however which made me feel slightly uncomfortable as well as other players in which you have to torture someone, pick what to torture them with and proceed with doing it. Its a bit of a shock and made me feel really on edge proceeding with the mission and I know its sparked a lot of hate from game reviewers. I think the only way this mission or rather scene is redeemed is after torturer Trevor gets ordered to kill off the guy he's been finding out information from (even when willing to give information continuing with the torture) he in fact lets him live, giving a speech about how when torturing people they can get information easily, just from a few simple threats, however "Torture's for the torturer, or the guy giving the orders to the torturer. You torture for the good times! We should all admit that. It's useless as a means of getting information".

My favourite part about this game was its detail. I was playing as Franklin and had to do a triathlon against some crazy angry woman and I walked into the water, seems simple? but the detail of the fact the characters shorts changed colour from the water gradually depending on how far I went in really amazed me, or how after getting out of the water the characters clothes would still look wet rather than instantly looking dry is such a simple yet really amazing detail and I loved that the creators really thought about the detail.

This game comes with many easy side quest missions too, which actually help you with building the skills of each character specifically shown depending on colours on the map. 

The voices of each character was great and fitted their characters perfectly, although seemingly stereotypical, they suited them so well although I can't recall a single cinematic scene, or any game play in fact which didn't involve at least one throw of cuss words and racial slur or the odd talk about incest and seeing a fair share of very detailed boobs so, that was certainly...interesting.

Overall I did really enjoy this game. I'm obviously gutted it only took me four days to complete, unlike San Andreas I can't see me playing it in general just to mess about considering its done although the ending (depending on which option you pick) didn't feel like it was over for me. 

Online game play doesn't start until October 1st though, I have no idea why? But I have a feeling it might be to do with wanting to get a lot of sales in its first week (which it did, 1 billion in the first three days if I'm right?) and ensuring people play the game before jumping straight online, which will make that interesting considering people who have got it before the online opening will have a fair bit of experience, so I guess that's an advantage?

I highly recommend buying this game! It was a lot of fun and the storyline was gripping and exciting, it does make you want to play continuously and I think that's the best part about a game, no matter how long it takes you to finish. Really enjoyable, plenty to do and a variety of missions. Brilliant.

GTAV - 5/5