Saturday, 30 June 2018

June Books



Again, a nice varied collection of books this month, going from recent fiction to a collection of journalism and back to short stories set in World War Two. Enjoyed, questioned and passed on to others for judgement, here's what I thought of this months reads.


Kill Your Friends by John Niven

Kill Your Friends was an angry book. But it was intriguing and it worked. I don't know how accurate Niven's representation of the music industry really is, but it was thoroughly convincing and certainly appeared authentic despite its extremities. I think none of us ever like the first person narrator as much as we're convinced we do. It's so easily to be led astray and made to believe that what they're doing is perfectly justified and valid simply because we're in their head. We're viewing the reality that they're creating for us and it's a complete trap. Ultimately Steven Stelfox is pretty much the devil incarnate. He's conniving and manipulative to the point that he'd kill to further his career, and yet is so drugged up you're made to consider whether he's wholly aware of what he's doing. He is. He obviously is - he makes plans requiring a lot of effort to execute and yet performs them seamlessly. It's a rather sickening novel, but nonetheless makes for a good, though slightly unpleasant read.


Lines in the Sand: Collected Journalism by A. A. Gill

As much as this collection is titled 'Collected Journalism', it does conclusively read as a memoir - a reflection of the author's life, particularly his final years. The collection focuses primarily on the theme and issue of migration. It moves from migration in Europe - looking at the Syrian crisis - to wider fields like Latin America. However there are a lot of other articles, which are often wholly unconnected that are also a part of this book. And it this sense it felt oddly fragmented, like the book didn't fit together very well as a whole. As much as I can appreciate that the migrate crisis is so poignant and of the moment, there were some really nice segments where Gill is talking about his children and taking them to different places or watching them learn; I feel like the book would have read better for me if parts like this weren't so out of the blue and essentially so few and far between. Individually the articles were all very intriguing and thought provoking, but ultimately I wasn't convinced by the way they have been formatted together.


Into the War by Italo Calvino

I also read a collection of three short stories by Italo Calvino this month. This is actually the first text I've read of his, despite If On a Winter's Night a Traveller having been sat on my bookshelf for upwards of three years. The stories are set in 1940 at the point of Italy joining World War Two. As much as we see the cusp of war in the stories, we also see the narrator - essentially Calvino, as the text is certainly autobiographical to a point - on the cusp of adulthood. I think it's certainly an interesting book to pick as a first Calvino text, as it's offered some biographical context in a way that I'm aware none of his other books do, and this could, perhaps, actually be beneficial in reading further works of his. Overall, the experience created in the stories feels very authentic and actually a bit emotional in the sense that you can see Calvino's character as someone with certain morals and ones which the other boys go against. It feels a lot like he's discovering the person he wants to grow into.


I'm also currently about two thirds of the way through the autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr, which I'm quickly devouring. I'll let you know what I thought of the whole thing this time next month.



Until next time.



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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Skincare 101



Trying to nail down a skincare routine is harder than organising a get together with my biggest group of friends.

I have been drafting and redrafting this post for, I kid you not, five months. Basically, since around the end of last year I started changing up single elements of my skincare routine one at a time. Certain things just weren't working for me anymore so it was time to introduce some new products. I'm a great advocate for slow progress and I think you should always only change one skincare product at a time, giving it a good month to check how it's working and see if you're happy with it before looking to change any other products. If you change everything at once you've got little hope in knowing, for example, which product is breaking you out or drying out your skin etc etc. So that's what I've been doing and I've finally gotten to a point where everything is working well and my skin is looking real nice.




First things first, Garnier Micellar Water is a staple in so many people's skincare routines and I am no different. It is my favourite formula for removing makeup and even just giving my face a quick refresh. There are obviously a few different versions of the micellar water and my personal favourite is the Pure Active formula. It makes my skin feels super clean and soft, and is a product that I feel contributes to decreasing spots and keeping them at bay. I love this stuff.




Next up is another Garnier product, again from the Pure Active range. Garnier Pure Active 3 in 1 Clay Face Wash is amazing for me. It purifies, unclogs pores and mattifies the skin - ideal if you're on the oilier side and your skin is prone to imperfections. I use this probably about three times a week as a more intensive facial wash than the micellar water. I'll usually just use it as a face wash - it works well to exfoliate whilst washing your face too, which is a bonus - but one every two weeks I'll put it on as a mask for five minutes. This just gives a slightly deeper clean.




One I've spoken about a few times now is the Glossier Solution. It's a game changer. It's essentially an exfoliator with three gentle acids which are intended to help reduce the appearance of pores, spots and redness. And I think it does this really well. It is a little drying, which is the only downside I've experienced, but it's worth needing to work a little harder to moisturise. I've been using this for almost six months now and I'm now at the point where I feel comfortable reducing my usage to every other night as opposed to using it every night, simply because I'm getting very few blemishes now and I'd like to avoid my skin getting any drier unnecessarily.




I've finally found an eye cream that seems to actually do something. Hallelujah. Origins Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream is the one. I feel that I'm not fully awake in the morning until I've used this product. It feels really hydrating and seems to reduce puffiness nicely. And I'm hoping it's working well below the skin as a preventative means to reduce wrinkly eyes as I get older.




The most difficult product to get right for me was definitely moisturiser. I've tried many a moisturiser in attempts to find one that really works for my skin, from various brands and various ranges within brands. In the end I settled upon the Garnier Skin Active Moisturiser with Aloe Extract. I wanted something light and refreshing that would hydrate my skin without needing an excessive amount of product - which was a problem I was having with other moisturisers: they just didn't hydrate my skin enough. This one is great. I use it morning and evening and my skin has never felt better. It doesn't break me out (another serious moisturiser struggle) and just helps my skin to look it's best.




Those are my main staple products, but in addition to these I will also use face masks twice a week. I will vary the mask I use in relation to what my skin seems to need. A few favourites include The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng and Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask - this one is great for a bit of extra exfoliation and also helps to brighten up and revitalise. For a mask more focused on hydration, my go to is the Garnier Moisture Bomb sheet masks. There are several different versions of this mask and my favourites include the Chamomile mask, the Lavender mask and the Green Tea mask. All great for hydration but they all also work in slightly different ways in addition to this. For example the Chamomile mask is very soothing and the Lavender mask helps relax the senses.


So that's my skincare routine in a nutshell. It's taken a great deal of time to formulate, but it truly works for me. I like that it's there's not a mass of products, and for the most part they're all really affordable, meaning I don't get a little sad every time I need to repurchase something. I think simple, minimalist skincare is definitely most effective for me.


Until next time.



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Email: abbielour18@gmail.com